A comfortable reading chair could be plush or just firm enough to support your upper and lower back. A reading chair isn’t just for reading, however, and can also be decorative for almost any room in your home. They come in a range of styles — modern, retro and traditional — and can be outrageously expensive for a single piece of furniture. We’ve selected the most comfortable chairs for reading that are reasonably priced for under $500 and attractive as well.
What is the best reading chair for you?
Although we’re partial to propping ourselves up in an oversized sit-up pillow on the couch to read, even the best sit-up pillow can be terrible for posture and lead to an aching back or neck.
If you enjoy reading the latest bestseller or literature classic late into the night with a book light clipped to your book, you’ll want a chair that prevents you from slouching by supporting your lower back and keeps your arms high enough to hold a book comfortably.
Reading chairs come in different sizes, so before buying one, check its measurements. Many modern and retro reading chairs are low to the ground with legs only about five or six inches tall. This style allows you to keep your feet planted firmly and your back erect. You’ll want a seat cushion that gives a little but not so much that you’ll sink into it.
Traditional wingback chairs have slightly angled cushions that force you to sit into their higher backs. Although most wingback chairs are high enough to lean your head back, sometimes you might need a cushion to support your neck.
Most people consider a recliner to be the most comfortable chair for reading and relaxing. If you have the room in your home, a recliner could be a good option and may provide relief from lower back ache. However, your body needs to fit properly into the recliner and keep your feet elevated above your heart to have any benefit.
West Elm - Book Nook Chair
The Book Nook Chair is one of West Elm’s most popular furniture products. It has a slimline profile with mid-century flair that makes it perfect for a home study, den or living room reading corner. The Book Nook Chair’s sloping arms keep your elbows raised so you hold your book erect, and although it’s smaller than other reading chairs, it has a wide and deep seat cushion that you can nestle into.
The Book Nook Chair currently comes in ink blue and wheat-colored fabric that’s smooth and velvety to touch. It’s a bit more expensive than other reading chairs, but this attractive chair is designed to fit in smaller spaces, which is rare for a reading chair.
Christopher Knight Home - Macedonia Recliner
If you go for the Mad Men mid-century-modern style, the affordable Christopher Knight Home – Macedonia will fit right in your home. The chair’s slightly tufted back has extra padding that gives support to the upper back and a double-thickness seat cushion for extra plushness.
What we love particularly about the Macedonia’s design is that its clean lines cleverly disguise that the chair is a recliner. The Macedonia is smaller than most recliners, so it will fit in a smaller space, like a den or bedroom. The chair’s material is easy-to-clean polyester and comes in a variety of vibrant colors.
This beautiful and richly colored wingback chair is one of those great IKEA products that combines functionality with Scandanavian elegance and would look beautiful in a home library or living room. Its velvet cover is made of viscose and polyester and has a dense pile that feels soft to the skin.
The Strandmon’s slightly sloping seat cushion naturally forces you to settle into the chair’s curved, high back that begs a reading lamp hovering over it. The Strandmon is available in three other colors and patterns, but they aren’t as attractive as the dark green.
Christopher Knight Home - "Alfred" Club Chair
The Christopher Knight club chairs come in neutral- and pastel-hued upholstery, but the Alfred bonded leather club chair really stands out as exquisite. Under $300, the Alfred combines a bold, modern look with a traditional style you might find in a British lord’s library.
It’s low to the ground but has a broad back (33-inches wide) that lets you easily switch positions. The Alfred is a larger chair than other reading chairs we’ve reviewed here — the company’s website claims it can support 300 pounds — so it’s better suited for a large living room, bedroom or dedicated reading area.
Coaster Home Furnishings - Dilleston Lounger
If you prefer to recline while reading, this contemporary chaise lounge is designed to naturally accommodate the curve of your body. Its back is angled to decrease stress along the spine and legs, similar to what an electric leg massager might do.
The lounger is covered in a soft, leather-like polyurethane (available in gray, ivory, black and brown) that’s easy to clean. Its back and head pillows can be repositioned vertically and horizontally for people of different heights. The Dilleston is about 5.5 feet in length so it doesn’t take up much space and could work in almost any room where you like to read and lounge in style.
Homelegance - Barrel Chair
The Homelegance barrel chair is a sturdily made, wood-framed chair with a low profile and deep seat. Although it’s not a chair to snuggle into, it does provide support to your lower back because of the firm foam cushion. Its retro curved back is not only handsome but functional as well, since it allows you to place the chair in a corner and doesn’t hog up precious floor space in a small living area. The reasonably priced Homelegance barrel chair is available in four chic colors that will match most decor in any room of your house or apartment.
Rimdoc - Black Palisander
This lounge chair is the most expensive reading chair on our list, but we couldn’t exclude it because of its gorgeous esthetic. It’s a replica of a famous mid-century Charles Eames chair and ottoman, manufactured by the Herman Miller company, that brand-new run for more than $5,000. Made of leather, aluminum and seven layers of high-density laminate, the frame tilts back and swivels, allowing longer-legged people to stretch out.
This isn’t a La-Z-Boy lounger: it’s very firm, low to the ground and some might find its fixed angle uncomfortable. Also, be aware that when you order it from Amazon, assembly is required. That said, for the price, this is one of the most beautiful reading chairs you could buy.
Boss Office Products - Wingback Guest Chair
This Victorian-era-style wingback chair is perfect for cozying up to a fire and losing yourself in the foggy, mysterious world of Sherlock Holmes. It’s a solidly made wood frame chair with mahogany finishes, brass nailhead trim and oxblood-colored vinyl.
It’s also available in black, but the oxblood is both traditional and dramatic. It has a high slightly convex back with firm cushioning and low armrests, which prevent you from slouching and gives good lower-back support. Like most wingback chairs, it has a wide seat, so it requires a larger space than other reading chairs.
Lumaland - Luxury Bean Bag Chair
Bean bag chairs aren’t just for kids and teenagers. Lumaland makes them extra-large for adults. There are no beans in the Lumaland – Luxury bean bag chair; instead, it’s filled with shredded memory foam, making it incredibly comfy for reading or just relaxing.
Like the best pillow for side sleepers, the memory foam is encased in a covering, so the microsuede cover can be easily removed for machine washing. The Lumaland is available in sizes three to seven feet in a variety of bright and muted colors.
Your Zone Bed - Flip Chair
A flip chair is a convertible bed mattress that can be adjusted in several positions for reading anywhere in your home. The Your Zone Bed flip chair has a sturdy aluminum frame sandwiched between extra-thick foam that makes it more comfortable than other flip chairs. Its ultra-suede cover is smooth to the touch and easy to clean.
When the Your Zone Bed is in the third or fourth position — it clicks into place like a garden lounger — it keeps your back straight and your head supported with a built-in cushion. It’s priced comparable with other flip chairs, but it’s been constructed for comfort and versatility, especially for a small living space.
Timber Ridge - Zero Gravity Chair
A beautiful, sunny day beckons you outside to catch up on some reading, the Timber Ridge – Zero Gravity Chair is not only comfortable but it’s therapeutic too. It’s pricier than other zero gravity chairs, but it’s better made with quality materials.
The Timber Ridge chair reclines farther back, so without a pillow, your head is just below the level of your knees, thus keeping your body in a neutral position without stressing your neck or back. The Timber Ridge comes in bold patterns and colors, so it probably won’t coordinate with your home decor. But you’ll be reading out on your lawn and patio in comfort and style.
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Gene has written about a wide variety of topics for too many years to count. He's been a professional chef, cooking-appliance demonstrator, playwright, director, editor of accountancy and bank-rating books, Houdini expert and dog lover (still is). When he's not writing for Your Best Digs, he's performing as a magician at the Magic Castle in Hollywood.