The best reading lights are a must-have accessory for any bookwork. Whether it’s in a small nook in your living room where you like to spend an hour with the Sunday paper and a cup of coffee or the bedroom where you try to spend 20 minutes reading at the end of each night (when your eyelids are not too heavy to cooperate), reading lights are one of the best things you can do for your eyes.
Investing in good reading lights will not only make it more enjoyable for you to curl up with a good book, but it will also save you unnecessary strain on your eyes, which can cause headaches and damage over time. As we age, we need more and more light to read, especially those with glaucoma or macular degeneration.
Fortunately, there are a wide variety of choices when it comes to reading lights, with options to suit every style of home décor and every budget. We will walk you through some of our top picks for the best reading light to brighten your spaces as you read your favorite books.
Buyer’s Guide: The Best Reading Lights for 2021
As you set out to shop for the best reading light, you can easily narrow down your choices by focusing on the criteria below.
Lamp Type Is Dictated by Location
The kind of reading light you need will vary from room to room. Whereas a living room might need a large floor lamp with an arm that extends over a favorite recliner, a bedroom will call for a bedside lamp or even a headboard light for reading.
A desk lamp is often made with an adjustable or swiveling arm so that you can focus the light on the exact spot where you are working. There are also portable reading lights you can carry with you wherever you go, helping you read with proper lighting on a plane, in a car, or even in a hammock on vacation.
Bulbs Make a Difference
The type of light fixture or lamp you are using to read will come with a specific wattage requirement, and in years past, this would typically relate to an incandescent bulb. Today many of our reading lights and lamps are illuminated by LED lights instead, which is short for “light-emitting diodes.” These long-lasting and affordable lights are much more energy-efficient than incandescent bulbs, and they produce a bright light perfect for reading.
Do You Need a Cordless Option?
While most reading lights will require proximity to an electrical outlet (such as large floor lamps or bedside table lamps), there are also some cordless options if you want a light that can move with you throughout the house.
For people who like to switch up reading spots, moving from a favorite recliner to an outdoor rocker and then sometimes curling up in bed, a small cordless light may be the best bet.
Today even some of the larger lamps are cordless, with rechargeable USB ports. This is a great option for those who want to cut down on electricity costs and use long-lasting battery power instead.
Ideally, the reading light source you choose will include adjustable levels, especially if it will be used by different family members who have individual preferences when it comes to lighting (and some may have much better eyesight than others!)
A good reading light will at least offer low, high, and medium settings to adjust brightness, and some of the better lights will also allow you to adjust what is known as the “color temperature.” This means you can change from an extremely bright white light to a softer, warmer shade if preferred.
Another issue when it comes to light and color involves reading on screens. Blue light or blue wavelengths emitted from personal devices has been shown to cause a wide variety of problems after prolonged exposure. The primary issue affecting many people with screens is a lack of quality sleep, as the blue light affects the body’s melatonin production. A reading light with an amber-colored bulb can help block this damaging blue light (and you can also opt to wear blue light blocking glasses while reading, too).
Finally, an adjustable head or neck on a reading lamp makes it easier to increase the light’s functionality in any space where you want to read. For desk lamps and floor lamps, it is always best to purchase one that can be adjusted, so they can be used in different spaces throughout your home.
Next, we will take a look at our top choices for reading lamps to get your favorite reading nooks illuminated by the perfect light.
Our Top Four Reading Lights and Lamps for 2021
1. Best Floor Lamp: Miroco LED Floor Lamp
The Miroco LED floor lamp packs an impressive amount of features into a slim profile (and a great price!) Users can choose five different brightness levels (in increments of 20%) as well as adjust between three colors (warm white, natural white, and cool white). These options allow anyone to find their perfect lighting for reading (or other tasks like knitting, which require plenty of light).
Removable aluminum roads also allow you to adjust the height of the lamp, and the adjustable gooseneck gives you even more flexibility in terms of how you angle the lamp. The user-friendly controls in the middle of the lamp base have buttons to adjust color and brightness and even a handy one-hour timer button to save energy. Additionally, the lamp’s cord stretches for five feet to allow you to move it next to different seating and reading areas in your space.
No tools are needed to set up and install the lamp, which can be done in minutes. The only minor drawback with the Miroco LED floor lamp is that it does not come in different colors or finishes beyond basic black. Overall, we love the functionality of this lightweight yet sturdy and energy-efficient lamp.
2. Best Reading Lamp for Your Desk: Gladle LED Lamp
This cordless desk lamp is our favorite when it comes to studying, and its compact size makes it a perfect choice for students in dormitories or people living in smaller apartments with limited space. Because it is cordless, it can also be moved from a desk with ease and placed in another spot in your home where you need a dedicated reading light.
The 3500mAh built-in battery will provide up to six hours of light when used on the lamp’s brightest setting, and it will provide up to 100 hours when used on the lowest setting. A convenient USB charging port allows you to recharge the lamp attached to your computer or a wall function, and the built-in smart memory system remembers your last setting when you turn the lamp on again.
The lamp’s neck offers 360-degree flexibility, so you can focus it where it is most needed. Best of all, the LED light bulb does not put out the unwanted heat you would experience with an incandescent bulb, which would be most unwelcome in a long study session.
Two-color choices (black and white) ensure a fit for any décor in this compact, affordable, and easy-to-use desk lamp. Three brightness levels and dimmable color temperature are also available in the lamp controls.
3. Best Light for a Headboard: acegooo Dimmable Reading Light
If you have ever found yourself staying in a hotel where a reading light was conveniently attached to the headboard, and you thought, “wouldn’t it be great to have this at home?” You are in luck! Many reading lamps are available that attach directly to your headboard or a wall mount just above it.
The real beauty of these kinds of lights is that they provide dedicated lighting for one reader but do not illuminate the room as a traditional lamp or overhead light would if another person is sleeping in the bed.
The acegoo light comes with a flexible gooseneck, a dimmer switch, a UL cord (79 inches) and an adaptor cord (50 inches), and easy mounting hardware. The inbuilt LED bulb provides the bright light you need for reading but without unnecessary heat, and the easy touch control button makes it a breeze to turn off the light when you are ready for sleep.
4. Best Book Light for Portable Use: Vekkia Amber Clip on Book Light
The amber glow from the Vekkia book light is not just about aesthetics (though it is certainly pleasing); this light is built to keep your eyes healthy and strong by eliminating the blue light that can put a strain on them and also affect your sleep. This is especially important with a reading light since so many people make it a habit to read just before going to bed. You want to avoid any eye strain.
By eliminating 99.95% of the blue light, the Vekkia ensures you will not disrupt melatonin production, and you will enjoy a better night’s sleep.
The clips on this lamp are covered in foam cushioning to protect your furniture or headboard from damage, and a smart memory system will always recall your previous settings.
Three color temperatures and three brightness level options are available, and an 18-inch flexible gooseneck means you can adjust this to any angle that suits your position, whether you are relaxing on the sofa, enjoying a breeze in a rocker on your front porch, or nestled snuggly into bed.
A handy 59-inch USB cord is included with the lamp for easy charging. One-touch operation means you can change the brightness with a single click, change the color temperature with a long press of the button, or turn the lamp off with two quick clicks.
Reading Light FAQs
Why are LED Lights Better for Reading than Incandescent Bulbs?
LED lights are energy-efficient, produce an incredibly bright light, and do not put off the unwanted heat of incandescent bulbs, making them the best choice for reading lamps.
What are Lumens and How Many Do I Need in a Reading Lamp?
Lumens are used to describe the total visible light emitted from your reading lamp. A good reading light will produce between 3,000 and 6,000 lumens.
What Color Temperature Should I Use When Reading?
The best color temperature for reading will depend on the time of day. During daylight hours, it is best to set your reading lamp to its cooler, whiter settings. If you are reading at night, you will want to switch to the amber-hued, warmer settings on your light.
How Long Do LED Bulbs Last?
An LED bulb can last for up to 10 years, but several factors affect its lifespan, such as electrical stress or material defects. In general, you will always benefit from choosing LED over incandescent, with LED bulbs outlasting incandescent by up to 50 times the lifespan.
Because they last so long, you should be aware that in most cases, the bulbs cannot be replaced in the types of lamps described above. Check each manufacturer’s specifications regarding the LED bulb used in the lamp you are purchasing.
Do I Need to Wear Blue Light Blocking Glasses as Well?
If you do most of your reading on devices such as laptops, tablets, or phones, it is also a good idea to invest in some blue-light-blocking glasses to ensure your sleep is not disrupted.