Coffee Shops vs. Libraries

If you’re like me, occasionally you like to escape from the house and sit somewhere else so you can pretend that you have some semblance of a social life.

The first place I ever visited on a regular basis was a lovely place known as the Tea Spot.  They almost always had room for me to sit for several hours, drinking copious amounts of tea and eating chocolate and scones.  (They had the best scones.  No unnecessary fruit.)

From there, I moved on to coffee shops.  I don’t actually like coffee, but I have made do.  There’s something very hipster about sitting in a coffee shop, tiny computer out, drinking your peppermint mocha, headphones in but not necessarily listening to anything.

I like coffee shops, I really do.  But they have their drawbacks.  The main one being that you have to buy something.  I mean, no one’s going to hunt you down and make you have a latte or whatever, but basic courtesy says if you’re going to take up main table space for a few hours, you should give them something in return.  Also, they may give you the evil eye and set your car on fire.

Secondly, they tend to be noisy.  Writers love coffee shops.  Unfortunately, so do book clubs, study groups, teenagers, and noodle-eating smokers.  Sometimes it’s fine.  Sometimes you want to stab people in the eye with a pen.

They also tend to be crowded.  You walk in wondering if there’s any good tables left – or any tables at all – or if you’re going to have to stuff yourself into some odd corner.  And if you have a group of people coming…well.

As an alternative, I’ve started going to my local library to get some work done.  It’s quiet, there are plenty of places to work, the wifi works great, and if you need to do research, you are surrounded by books.  No baristas staring at you willing you to buy caffeine.  One could argue that it is, perhaps, too quiet, but that is a silly concern. (Besides, you can still bring headphones and listen to music.)

Where’s your favorite place to write?  Any preference on the type of venue?

6 responses to this post.

  1. Now that I’ve started using voice recognition software, I’m screwed in both places. Libraries because I need to be quiet, and coffee shops because they are too noisy.

    That said, I prefer coffee shops. Yes, sometimes you have to deal with smokers or some talentless local band that couldn’t book anyplace but the coffee shop where their bud works, or a bunch of tweener girls going on about Justin Bieber. But there is a vitality, a life to a coffee shop that libraries seem to actively suppress.

    I find that energy very helpful.


  2. Posted by AG on 2011/08/10 at 10:43 PM

    I like coffee shops better too. I enjoy a ready source of caffeine and I like the free entertainment. Creepy guys with liquor bottles in their back pockets hitting on annoyed nerds – sign me up. What is going to inspire me at the library? Plus, I would be way too distracted. At the library, there are mountains of books to delve into (and most of them are probably better than mine anyways)…and it’s way too quiet.


  3. I go a third route-Paneras/Cosi’s. They have food, caffeine, tea, pastries, seats, tables, outlets, Wi-Fi, and a never-ending stream of plot fodder in the form of their customers.

    Just have to time it so you don’t go at the same time as the fifty bajillion littluns all demanding sugary goodness.


  4. I’ve actually never written anywhere except at home. *shifty look* That’s mainly because I don’t drive and hate inconveniencing people (and no writer friends nearby) but if I were to go somewhere, I’d have to say a coffee shop. I could get a hot chocolate — not a coffee person — and hang out and write for a few hours. Panera sounds good, too (but alas, I’m on a diet and it would kill me dead). My 3 cents. 😉



  5. Coffee shops. Libraries close at 9PM during the week and even earlier on Sundays. I’m a night-owl, so anything that closes that early is a no-go for me.

    Plus, you have to be quiet in libraries. Quiet was never my forte.


  6. Posted by shannon on 2011/08/29 at 5:40 PM

    I’ve been loving our new house. Its people quiet, but there’s lots of cricket and cicada noise. I haven’t been writing but its perfect for reading.


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