Updated October 2021
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Buying guide for Best reading chairs

Love the idea of curling up with a good book? You can turn your favorite reading nook into a cozy spot with a reading chair.

Any chair can be a reading chair, but most readers agree that comfort and coziness are key considerations. More than anything, a reading chair should be conducive to prolonged reading sessions. Most chairs are outfitted with soft, supportive cushions, and some have reclining features. If you’d literally like to kick back and relax, there are many reading chairs that come with ottomans or footrests as well.

Besides comfort and coziness, it’s important to invest in a reading chair that ticks other boxes. Style, footprint, and quality are essential. Of course, with so many features to think about, it’s easy to feel spoiled for choice.

If your reading chair is a plain or solid color, add a throw or decorative pillow with bold colors or patterns to bring it to life.

Key considerations


Comfort is of the utmost importance when it comes to reading chairs. After all, if you’re going to spend several hours at a time on a piece of furniture, you might as well be comfortable — and cushions are at the forefront of that discussion.

While it’s easy to gravitate to reading chairs with soft cushions, some people feel that soft cushions are not the most prudent option. The reason: cushions compress over time. As a result, support and comfort may decrease. Indeed, some soft cushions compress and even flatten over the life of the chair. For that reason, you may wish to consider investing in a reading chair with medium to firm cushions.


If you’re limited on space, it’s essential to consider the footprint of a reading chair. For this reason, we recommend that you measure the intended area before you shop. Record the height, width, and depth of space available. Not only should there be ample space around the chair area, there should be room for other essential furniture around the chair. If the area isn’t well-lit, for example, you’ll need room for a lamp. Floor lamps are ideal for tight spaces, though if there is room to spare, a small table and lamp are suitable. If you’re partial to having a bookshelf or footrest, make sure there is enough space for those pieces as well.


No hard and fast rule exists when it comes to what constitutes reading chair “style.” In other words, you have a wealth of styles to consider. To help narrow your options, here are a few of the most popular styles of reading chairs.

Wingback chairs: These chairs feature tall seatbacks and side panels, often with cushioned armrests. They have a regal, upscale appearance while remaining incredibly cozy and inviting.

Club chairs: Club chairs have soft, rounded edges and curves. The design is spacious and typically features an oversized seat, so you can feel free to sit cross-legged in these.

Armchairs: Armchairs have well-defined panels that emphasize the arms. Some styles have plush, padded arms with supportive cushioning, whereas others have moderate cushioning.

Rocking chair: There are countless styles of rocking chairs, from classic wood and wicker designs to contemporary designs with metal and plastic components.

Office chair: Office chairs are popular reading chairs due to their adjustability. Depending on the design, they may offer multiple reclining positions, heights, support, or arm positions.

Recliner: Classic recliners tilt backward and offer full-length leg support. Other recliners have cranking or lever mechanisms you must operate yourself. Electric models adjust via remote.

Did You Know?
Some reclining chairs have a forward-tilting mechanism to help occupants to their feet. They’re especially popular for those who deal with mobility issues.



It’s common for consumers to gravitate toward reading chairs with arms. Not only do arms add to the overall coziness, but they provide a surface to rest the elbows while holding a book or e-reader.

When it comes to arm styles, there are plenty. Some reading chairs have plush, padded arms with firm cushioning. Others are rigid without much support. Certain arm styles dip downward to provide more than one height for occupants to rest their elbows. It’s also important to note that some reading chairs lack arms altogether. However, they’re considered somewhat of an acquired taste and aren’t as popular.

Seatback height

While there is no standard seatback height for reading chairs, most range from mid- to high-rise.

Mid-rise seatbacks, as the name implies, peak at the middle of the back for most occupants. Many armchairs and club chairs fall in this category. High-rise styles have seatbacks that are taller than that. This includes office chairs, recliners, and most rocking chairs. Some seatbacks are extraordinarily high, such as those seen in wingback chairs, rising over the heads of occupants.

Reclining vs. stationary

Reading chairs can be separated into two categories: reclining and stationary. It can be difficult to choose between them, which is why it’s a good idea to consider your preferred sitting styles.

Reclining reading chairs are ideal for those who like to lie back when they read. Many of these chairs offer extended leg support as well — a feature that appeals to those who like to put their feet up. Notably, reclining reading chairs tend to have a larger footprint than their non-reclining counterparts.

Stationary reading chairs are preferred by individuals who like to read in a traditional seated position. They have smaller footprints than reclining styles, which makes them conducive to small spaces and reading nooks. However, stationary reading chairs only allow for a single position, and they often lack leg and feet support.

Designs with ottomans

Some reading chairs come with a matching ottoman or footrest. An ottoman provides fashionable and color-coordinated support to the legs and feet, eliminating the need to go out and find a matching footstool. Some ottomans have hidden storage space where you can stow books, throw blankets, or other items. Some have wheels for easy portability. In a pinch, an ottoman can also function as makeshift seating for extra guests.

Spray your reading chair with water-repellent treatment to protect it from spills and stains. This is especially important if you enjoy drinking a beverage like wine or tea while reading.


Reading chair prices

Inexpensive: Entry-level reading chairs cost between $50 and $150. These include basic office chairs and a few accent chairs, usually made of synthetic materials like plastic or faux leather. Quality is hit-and-miss in this bracket.

Mid-range: Mid-range reading chairs run from $200 to $600. Construction quality is generally solid, affording you several years of use. Most designs feature high-quality materials and fine details, such as pin-tuck seatbacks or exquisite stitching.

Expensive: The priciest reading chairs cost between $700 and $1,500. More often than not, these chairs are manufactured by high-end furniture designers and are made of materials like leather or suede. Electric recliners exist in this range, too.

Did You Know?
If you’re looking for matching furniture pieces to go with a reading chair, such as side tables, look to the feet of the chair for inspiration.


  • Be prepared to schedule delivery. Because retailers and manufacturers usually schedule deliveries, you may need to wait a few days or even a few weeks for your new reading chair to arrive.
  • Choose a bold design. Because reading chairs often double as accent chairs, consider choosing one in a bold color or pattern to add a touch of style to your space.
  • Think about nearby outlets. If you plan to place a lamp next to your reading chair, consider how far it will be from an outlet. In the event there isn’t one nearby, you may need to invest in an extension cord.
To turn a nook into a relaxation space for immersive reading, consider adding an aromatherapy device, sound machine, or candles.


Q. What is the best material for a reading chair?

A. Leather is preferred by many for its durability, though the material requires special care and cleaning products to keep it looking its best. Some people prefer a high-quality textile, like canvas, cotton, or upholstered material. These materials are impressively durable and fairly easy to keep clean.

Q. What are some other reading chair styles?

A. If you’re looking for something unconventional, consider floor-based seating. This includes bean bag chairs and some gaming chairs. Another fun choice is a chair-and-a-half, which is significantly more spacious than a regular chair but notably smaller than a loveseat. A chaise lounge chair is yet another option. These pieces offer the support of a chair and the comfort of a bed.

Q. What is the best place for a reading chair?

A. Avid readers often recommend placing a reading chair by a window to enjoy natural light while reading. If that isn’t possible, it’s a good idea to place a reading chair somewhere calm or private for undisturbed reading where it’s easy to set up a lamp.

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