The Best Reading Chairs for Every Nook Inside Your Home
Including a chic outdoor egg seat.
Updated Mar 27, 2023 1:28 PM
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A good reading chair has a way of letting you step out of the chaos and sink into your own little world, even for a few minutes. While the sofa is an innately social piece of furniture (so you have to consider the preferences of cohabitants in picking one out), a chair can be just for you. Play with shape, color, and pattern, and let the seat you choose express your personal style, whether you opt for a bold statement or a serene retreat. And since you’ll probably spend hours in this spot, you don’t want to skimp on quality and comfort. That’s why we’ve consulted experts, reviewers, and our own accent chair–obsessed editors to bring you the best reading chair selections on the market, so you can cozy up in your personal reading nook with that novel everyone’s been talking about. Or just stream the Reese Witherspoon TV adaptation. We won’t judge.
- Best tub: Crate & Barrel Nora Tub Chair
- Best iconic: Knoll Womb Chair
- Best swivel: Serena & Lily Parkwood Swivel Chair
- Best high-back: Hem Hai Lounge Chair + Ottoman
- Best value: Lohoms Upholstered Armchair
- Best armless: West Elm Mara Hoffman Chair
- Best recliner: Macedonia Mid-Century Modern Tufted Back Fabric Recliner
- Best leather: Hay Bernard Lounge Chair
- Best egg: Better Homes & Gardens Willow Sage Steel Wicker Outdoor Egg Chair
- Best club: Maiden Home The Perry Chair
- Best traditional: Pottery Barn Carlisle Upholstered Tightback Armchair
Best Tub: Crate & Barrel Nora Tub Chair
The tub chair is believed to have originated in Europe more than 250 years ago, taking its name from Americans who thought the sloping, semicircular design of its continuous arms and back resembled a bathtub. This version has all the rounded elegance of the traditional design but with oversize, marshmallow-like proportions. The ultra-cozy shape is contrasted by dark solid wood legs that hint at the sturdy hardwood frame underneath.
Best Iconic: Knoll Womb Chair
Eero Saarinen’s classic Womb chair was the Finnish designer’s take on the ultimate place to curl up. As the name suggests, the mid-century organic design is meant to soothingly envelop the sitter no matter which way they’re lounging. The sturdy fiberglass frame is cushioned with high-quality foam and finished in a wide array of upholstery options, from bouclé to velvet to leather. As relevant today as it was in 1946, this is an iconic piece that will never go out of style.
Best Swivel: Serena & Lily Parkwood Swivel Chair
If you want a change of scenery without standing up or need your chair to double as a spot for socializing, a swivel adds versatility and a dash of fun. Crafted from high-end, sustainable materials, this piece offers luxe comfort thanks to generous cushions made with a soy-based foam core, recycled fiber batting, and hand-tied coil springs. Choose from dozens of patterns and colors to customize the elegantly curved design.
Best High-Back: Hem Hai Lounge Chair + Ottoman
This lounge chair takes the high-back support of a traditional wing-back and thoroughly updates it for the modern home. The industrial metal frame is paired with a swooping upholstered silhouette that’s somewhere between mid-century and futuristic in style. With wide, sloping arms; a back that’s high enough to fully rest your head; and a cushioned ottoman to put your feet up on, this embodies relaxation in its sleekest form.
Best Value: Lohoms Upholstered Armchair
With a durable solid-wood frame and linen upholstery in a warm mustard hue, this piece checks all the boxes for quality and versatile style—which you might not expect given its accessible price point. More than 600 shoppers give this armchair top marks for its ease of assembly, sturdiness, and support. If you’re looking for a charming chair that takes its cues from high design for under $200, this is your best bet.
Best Armless: West Elm Mara Hoffman Chair
While an armless reading chair might not sound sufficiently cozy, this sloped silhouette curves at all the right angles for a cradling effect. And paired with the fiber-wrapped (of your choosing!), high-resiliency polyurethane foam cores of both the top and bottom cushion, the experience can best be described as cocoon-like. For an optimum lounge, however, consider kicking your feet up on the matching ottoman.
Best Recliner: Macedonia Mid-Century Modern Tufted Back Fabric Recliner
Gone are the days of your dad’s bulky basement recliner. With a slim profile and tufted upholstery, this chair barely registers as a recliner at first glance. There’s no unsightly external handle; when you want to lounge, just lean back and the chair reclines with you. More than 2,000 reviewers praise this chair for its quick and painless assembly and great value for the price point.
Best Leather: Hay Bernard Lounge Chair
While some leather chairs can get swallowed up by too much material, our pick for best leather design masters the balance between sumptuous and clean-lined. The handsomely tailored seat and back are set into a visible solid oak frame, and the blanket-style arms add unique visual interest and extra comfort. The top-grain leather is available in an inviting cognac brown as well as moodier stone and charcoal shades.
Best Egg: Better Homes & Gardens Willow Sage Steel Wicker Outdoor Egg Chair
Reading nooks are not indoor exclusive—although this chic seat is reviewer-approved for functioning both indoors and out. Whether you’re working with a small-space patio, full-blown backyard, or covered porch setup, our top reading chair for cozying up with your favorite book is this well-priced and top-rated Walmart gem. The cocoon-like style is crafted from a weather-resistant blend of wicker and steel materials that reviewers can’t stop raving about: “I waited all summer, and the second it was restocked I bought it. Hands down the best decision I could have made—it is the most beautiful piece of furniture I have ever owned. It was the easiest assembly; took me about five minutes. It’s sturdy, gorgeous, and so comfortable. You can fit two people easily, and it is such a high-quality piece of furniture!”
Best Club: Maiden Home The Perry Chair
A joy to look at and sit in, this piece takes the classic club chair and remixes it into a charming new silhouette that would be at home anywhere from a traditional cottage to an ultramodern loft. Each custom chair is handcrafted in the U.S., with a choice of four wood finishes for the chunky, rounded legs and more than 60 upholstery options. You can order free swatches to help make up your mind, but we recommend the ivory shearling for a luxuriously comforting finish.
Best Traditional: Pottery Barn Carlisle Upholstered Tightback Armchair
Not only does this chair incorporate some of our favorite timeless details—trimly tailored upholstery, rolled English arms, turned wood legs—it’s built to last, so it’s sure to become an heirloom piece. Handcrafted in the U.S. with traditional furniture-making techniques, the design is upgraded with modern amenities like steel springs for continuous support and adjustable levelers for uneven surfaces. Customize your comfort even further by choosing between polyester-wrapped cushions for a firmer feel or a down-blend wrap for a softer feel.
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When deciding between the many upholstery options out there, we recommend a clear-eyed approach that’s focused on function in addition to looks. To ensure your chosen piece will last for years to come, consider your current lifestyle. If you have kids or pets, for example, it’s probably in your best interest to avoid fussier fabrics like silk, shearling, and mohair. Performance upholstery, on the other hand, will be more resistant to stains and wear. Our favorites are blends, which offer the best of both worlds when it comes to natural fibers (like cotton or wool) and synthetic fibers (like polyester) designed with cleanability and durability in mind.
With a chair, a solid foundation is essential. Look for frames and legs that are made from either solid wood, metal, or a combination of the two. These materials set the standard for long-term stability and beat out lower-cost options like manufactured wood (also known as MDF).
When it comes to style, it seems as if there are as many types of reading chairs as there are genres of books—from more traditional styles like wing-backs and club chairs, to the sleek lines and iconic shapes of mid-century modern designs, to brand-new silhouettes that remix the past or leave it behind altogether. As with choosing a book, you’ll need to find a chair that fits your particular style and mood. That said, comfort should always be built into the design. Look for arms that are cushioned (instead of bare wood or metal), a back that’s high enough for you to lean into (go for a back height of around 30 inches or above), and extra support from springs or webbing to really let you sink in.
Q: What can I do to ensure my chair is as low-maintenance as possible?
If you prefer to balance an open book in one hand and a cup of coffee or snack in the other, spills and crumbs are likely inevitable. Luckily there are ways to take durability to the next level. There are always trusted indoor-outdoor fabrics, such as those by Sunbrella. Or pretreat the fabric with a stain protector like Scotchguard or Fiber-Seal.