A group of published UK-based authors and illustrators of picture books, children's and YA.

The best place I’d rather not be

Hot tub reading

This is me last summer in the Forest of Dean. Perfect, huh? Well, nearly, though it does get a bit hot in a hot tub (I suppose the clue was in the name). But it’s not my favourite place to get lost in a book.

No, I think the best place to read is somewhere horrible. Let me explain.

When my children were small we used to pass a man each morning on the way to school. From his suit I would guess he was an accountant, and he would be beetling along the road with his eyes down, totally engrossed in a book. I haven’t seen him for a few years now, I expect he got run over.

And then there was the man who I used to see at bejaysus-o’clock in the morning at my local park with his little girl. We both had children with too much energy. His was always right up on top of the climbing frames, dangling off the wrong bits. But he didn’t notice because he was reading poetry.

A busy road, or a soggy park at a time when you should still be in bed, aren’t the world’s nicest places, but on another level they’re perfect. The besuited man was escaping from the inevitable day ahead of him. And the exhausted dad, well, it was too early for a drink.

My version of this takes me back to my 13-year-old self. I had gone on a three-week French exchange. They used to be hardcore in those days; no contact with anyone who spoke English, and a five-minute phone call once a week. The French family were lovely, as far as I could tell, but I was horribly homesick.

The one thing I did have though was reading matter. I wish I could remember the books, but I know there were a few Jackie magazines in the pile. The point is that they absorbed me, and gave me time out, so that when I looked up and saw I was still in France, I could cope with it better, and drag myself out to jouer au ping pong without dissolving into tears.

So where’s my favourite place to read? Well, hot tubs are nice, I would love a hammock, and I could do a Caribbean beach if forced, but overall I’d say the best place to read is anyplace I’d rather not be.


Nikki Sheehan

Nikki Sheehan is the youngest daughter of a rocket scientist and went to a convent school in Cambridge where she was taught by real nuns in habits. Her writing was first published when she was seven and her teacher sent a poem she had written into a magazine. She always knew she wanted to be a writer, but, for some reason she can’t remember she did a degree in linguistics followed by psychology. Nikki’s first job was subtitling the Simpsons. She then retrained as a journalist and wrote features about child psychology for parenting magazines and the national press. She is married and lives in Brighton with her husband, three children, two dogs and a cat.


One comment on “The best place I’d rather not be

  1. Carol
    October 28, 2014

    You are so right! The doctor’s office is a good one! LOL

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This entry was posted on October 24, 2014 by .

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