Austin, Texas is a book-reader’s paradise. Around every corner some funky coffee-shop, patio, or breezy nook is waiting to be discovered and vivified with hours of page-turning. When it comes to reading in Austin, the options are endless. – Abbi Gamm
Read all about the Hothouse staff’s favorite reading spots in ATX!
Coffee Shops and Cafes
If you like reading in a cozy corner with a delicious, warm coffee in your hand—which of course you do—then Epoch Coffee is the place for you. It has the kind of charm only a local coffee shop in Austin could have. Tucked away on the corner of North Loop Blvd. and Leralynn St., it’s a bit of a drive from campus but well worth the trouble. The outdoor patio is decked out with warm lighting and adorable plants to make for the perfect late-night escape into a book. And if you get too chilly, you can always find a home in one of the many armchairs or bar stools inside. Epoch Coffee, open 24 hours, is perfect for any reader craving the perfect balance of whimsical charm and mid-century modern aesthetics.
~Brandi Carnes, Poetry Board
Mozart’s Coffee Roasters
Fall and spring in the city call for leisure outdoor activity. Mozart’s Coffee Roasters on Lake Austin is such a refreshing combination of open-air and air conditioning. Out on the deck, the trees shade you and the wind sweeps over the water. It’s such a calming and restful place when trying to dig into that novel or power through the last 100 pages of your textbook. Inside the building, hardwood floors and ceiling-high windows translate to an open yet comforting, homey feel. Reading is both an intangible yet physical experience, and when I can read in natural outdoor light in a scenic place, I know that I’m going to enjoy myself and feel refreshed. So, grab yourself a cup of coffee and find a picnic table.
~Abbi Gamm, Poetry Board
One of my favorite places to read in Austin is Quack’s Bakery on 43rd St. There are plenty of tables (and electric outlets – good for studying!) inside as well as outside. I like to order a cup of coffee or a slice of their amazing carrot cake to keep me company while I read. Whether it be for school-assigned texts or just pleasure reading, Quack’s offers a quiet, cozy environment to curl up in and focus. When my eyes begin to tire, or I need a quick mental break, I examine the quirky, locally produced art that adorns the walls, most of which is available for purchase. Another plus: it smells wonderfully like fresh baked cookies inside!
~Ashten Luna, Poetry Board
Nestled into a misleadingly unappealing strip mall along Manchaca is Strange Brew. While it’s not the closest to campus, the little coffee shop makes up for the distance with its eclectic charm and casual ambience. While the lounge area with live music is a draw for some, I prefer the rooms adjacent to the coffee shop. Whether you sit in one of the black leather arm chairs and look out onto the street pondering the human condition, or at a table in a corner with some friends in an espresso-induced haze while trying to crank out some poetry – Strange Brew’s got you. If you need inspiration? Look no further than the local artwork displayed on the walls. However, should you actually need to get work done, there is a silent study room that is perfect for reading those seven books of The Odyssey you were supposed to have read three weeks ago. Regardless of your needs or your beverage preferences (coffee versus tea is quite the divisive debate), Strange Brew has it all. Personally, I am biased towards the $2.50 large coffee with a free refill (what more could you want?), but to each their own. (Their iced tea is pretty good as well.) Bottom line is: Strange Brew is the perfect place to read, write or unwind.
~Julia Schoos, Poetry Board
The blinds are now closed and electric light bathes the mismatched couches and the bright purple walls. The tan couch, my favorite, is worn from many encounters spent on it and always looks so inviting, its indents clearly defined and ready to mold against my preferred reading position. I grab a glass of red wine, adjust the pillows, and sink into those indents. Night is a special time, where the hustle and bustle of the city quiets and the dark envelops you in a protective layer. The wine relaxes you, lets you forget the stress of daily life, forget your own world and focus on a new one embellished on pages.
~Lauren Ponce, Fiction Board
“Next to My Puppy on My Bed”
I’m sure many avid readers can relate to this, but I’m super picky when it comes to good places to read. I need to find a spot that is both quiet and comfortable – not just any chair will do. For me, my perfect spot just happens to be the right side of my bed with my puppy situated on my lap. Although the need is definitely there to get out and explore new reading nooks around Austin, it never hurts to stick with what you’re comfortable with (in this case, you get a bed and guilt-free comfy clothes). Never be ashamed to stay in with your newest read! I’m sure your bed will thank you for the additional quality time.
~Sara Leonard, Nonfiction Board
When the weather seems to be hugging you – lifting the burden of all those stressful 3 a.m. papers, all those endless deadlines piling on your desk – imprint your body on the grass on the South Mall Lawn. Lay down, get comfortable – make sure to get well acquainted with the soft earth, the small insects that don’t seem bothered by your existence. Look around a bit, notice the trees around you, the rustle of their hair as the winds blows. Bless the small green acorns that miss your head by inches. Bless the students filing out of the buildings, running off to their next engagement, the next item on their to-do list. Then, when your mind has quieted down and your body has become accustomed to the feel of grass, get out a good book from that withered bag of yours. Open it, read…and breathe.
~Bianca Perez, Marketing Board
Mueller Park is a great outdoor spot for reading. It’s next to a lake with some small wooded islands a little way off. At the bottom of the hill leading to the lake is a low ledge, suitable for sitting and reading while enjoying a great view of the lake. Right underneath the ledge is a walking trail bordering the lake. Nearby is a lighted amphitheater next to a picnic area – another place where you can read and eat.
~Jeremy Huang, Poetry Board
Pace Bend State Park
Get out of town. More specifically—go to Pace Bend State Park, located just 20 miles outside of Austin’s city limits, where all the perks of those inner-city watering holes exist without any of the people. Less than an hour drive from Austin proper, Pace Bend State Park is a destination which affords seclusion and relaxation for its visitors. The park’s bowing oaks overlooking Lake Travis make for the most tranquil set-up for your hammock, especially if you can find a spot on the western side of the park where you can catch the sunset. And don’t make the rookie mistake of not bringing enough reading material, because here time has a way of getting away from you.
~Jeffrey Svajda, Fiction Board
Outside the Long Center
The Long Center for the Performing Arts caps the top of a small hill just across the river from downtown. You can sit in the shade under its monolithic legs and hear the muffled rush of traffic below. The grass on the hill is conveniently green and well-maintained, but you don’t notice this at all as you lie back on the lawn and begin re-reading your Saturday book, Lolita, or maybe the poems of Anne Sexton, if today it strikes you so. The faint drone of cars and the breeze reaches you better up here. Across the river and above the downtown towers a long, pink cloud rises and hovers like a fish, and you think how lovely it is to be up this high where you see such things before everyone else sees them, before the people down below on the streets.
~John Calvin Pierce, Poetry Board