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Here are 10 of the best spots to read a book around Boston, according to readers

The Boston Common is one popular place to read a book around Boston.Tlumacki, John Globe Staff

With summer in full swing, we asked readers to tell us their favorite spots around Boston to sit down and read a book. Be it a New England beach read or a hair-raising thriller, here’s where Bostonians like to do their summer reading.

1. The Boston Public Library

Grand and picturesque, the Central branch of the Boston Public Library in Copley Square is central to our readers’ hearts. Featuring numerous cafes and tea rooms, a grand reading room, art galleries, and a sun-soaked courtyard, there’s sure to be a spot to read that will suit everyone’s taste.


700 Boylston St., Boston. Open Mon.-Thu. 9 a.m.-8 p.m., Fri.-Sat. 9 a.m.-5 p.m. and Sun. 11 a.m.-5 p.m. bpl.org.

2. Boston College Campus

Spanning roughly 375 acres, this sprawling campus has countless nooks and crannies to curl up in, both indoors and outside. Readers specifically mention the nearby Chestnut Hill Reservoir, with benches scattered along a footpath circling the water.

Boston College: 140 Commonwealth Ave., Chestnut Hill. Hours vary. bc.edu

Chestnut Hill Reservoir: 355 Chestnut Hill Ave., Brighton. Open 6 a.m.-7 p.m. mass.gov

3. Charles River Esplanade

A classic Bostonian picnic spot, the esplanade is a great place to stop and blow through a few books on the Goodreads queue. Bring a blanket to settle on the grass, or snag a bench facing out toward the Charles River. In the summertime, you can also sample some IPAs from the Night Shift Owl’s Nest pop-up beer garden.

Charles River, Esplanade, Boston. Open 6 a.m.-8 p.m. esplanade.org

4. The Brookline Reservoir

Lush and tree-filled, this park in the heart of Brookline offers a wide selection of reading spots, and spectacular views no matter the season. “You can see traffic but it feels a million miles away,” one reader reported. Come by yourself for a serene afternoon under a row of Sargent Cherry trees, or pack a picnic and bring some friends along. Don’t be afraid to bring a bottle of water or some lemonade — the park is newly equipped with restrooms for visitors.


674 Boylston St., Brookline. Open 6 a.m.-7 p.m. brooklinema.gov

5. The Rose Kennedy Greenway

Winding through downtown Boston, the Rose Kennedy Greenway comes equipped with countless options for seating: benches, swings, and wide stretches of grass that are perfectly suited to some literary leisure. Adorned with a variety of sculptures, murals, and occasional cultural events and activities, this series of parks delights.

Atlantic Avenue, Boston. Open 7 a.m.-11 p.m. rosekennedygreenway.org

6. Institute of Contemporary Art

While the inside of the ICA is nothing to sneeze at, the museum’s picturesque surroundings are also worth exploring. Perched right on one of the Seaport’s many shorelines, it’s the perfect place to get some sun on your face and feel the wind in your hair. Readers specifically recommend the shaded steps behind the museum that overlook the ocean, but there’s no shortage of perches to choose from.

25 Harbor Shore Drive, Boston. Open Tue.-Wed. and Sat.-Sun. 10 a.m.-5 p.m., and Thu.-Fri. 10 a.m.-9 p.m. icaboston.org

7. Boston Athenaeum

Located at the mysterious locale 10½ Beacon St. in downtown, this curated library specializing in local history, fine arts, and literature also offers numerous art galleries and ornate architectural views. Arches, floor-to-ceiling windows, and balconies abound, complete with a terrace on the 5th floor that looks out over Granary Burying Ground.


10½ Beacon St., Boston. Open Mon.-Thu. 9 a.m.-8 p.m., and Fri.-Sat. 9 a.m.-5 p.m. bostonathenaeum.org

8. Boston University Beach

Though lacking in sand, this grassy knoll overlooking Storrow Drive nevertheless provides the perfect place for a beach read, with the sound of cars rushing past easily mistaken for waves crashing onto the shore. With a smattering of benches and a view of the Charles River, the green space, once a parking lot, has provided generations of BU students with a spot to kick back and relax while reading for school or for leisure.

270 Bay State Road, Boston. Open 24/7. bu.edu

9. Custom House Block

This building on Long Wharf dates back to 1848, and stands as a relic of Boston’s heyday as a leading spot for national and international maritime trade. These days, the wharf offers some quiet benches and scenic views of Boston’s ferries and the Seaport district in the distance. Visitors can grab a pastry and read with the wind in their hair. Just make sure to keep your snacks safe from stealthy seagulls.

66 Long Wharf, Boston.

10. Norman B. Leventhal Park

Tucked in the heart of the Financial District, this little square provides a welcome splash of greenery among the towering glass buildings that surround it. Benches border curving brick-lined paths with both sun and shade, and a nearby fountain provides some soothing white noise. Grab a coffee and a pastry from nearby Sip Cafe and sit under the vine-covered trellis to read in true tranquility.


130 Congress St., Boston. Open 6 a.m.-11:30 p.m. normanbleventhalpark.org

Here’s the full list of the best places to read in Greater Boston:

  1. Boston Public Library
  2. Boston College Campus
  3. Chestnut Hill Reservoir
  4. Charles River Esplanade
  5. The Brookline Reservoir
  6. The Rose Kennedy Greenway
  7. By a window in the most comfortable seat in the house
  8. Nantasket Beach
  9. At home.
  10. The Institute of Contemporary Art
  11. The Boston Athenaeum
  12. Custom House Wharf
  13. Norman B. Leventhal Park
  14. The Emerald Necklace
  15. Fort Independence at Castle Island
  16. My bathtub
  17. The Boston Common
  18. North Point Park
  19. Prospect Hill Park
  20. BU Beach
  21. The Public Garden

Maya Homan can be reached at maya.homan@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @MayaHoman.