The Best Reading Lights of 2021

Give your eyes some love with one of these bright, stylish, and affordable solutions.

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The Best Reading Light Option

Photo: amazon.com

Your mom was right: Insufficient reading light can cause problems, from fatigue to headaches, and, over time, even eye damage. Fortunately, the solution has never been easier or more streamlined. Thanks to well-designed reading lights, from tiny book buddies to substantial floor lamps, your dark days are over. Continue on for all the details on our top favorites among some of the best reading lights available.

  1. BEST BOOK LIGHT: Vekkia Book Light Set with Charger
  2. BEDSIDE FAVORITE: acegoo Dimmable Reading Light
  3. ALSO CONSIDER: Hooga Book Light
The Best Reading Light Option

Photo: amazon.com

What to Consider When Choosing the Best Reading Light

Stop squinting. Instead, get a sturdy, affordable reading light, which is useful for a host of other tasks too. If you travel a lot, go for a portable, lightweight model that easily slips into a bag or suitcase. For home use, choose a desk, bedside, or floor lamp designed for reading and boosting focus.

Purpose and Design

Whether you’re at home or on the go, reading lights and lamps can save your eyes from strain and illuminate both work and relaxation time. These are the four main types of reading lights:

  • Book lights are small, lightweight, and portable. Ideal for travel and made of sturdy materials like plastic and metal, they fit into the palm of the hand and attach to a book or magazine via a sturdy clamp. The best book lights are also good for nighttime reading in bed if bedside lighting is insufficient.
  • Bedside reading lamps can be either freestanding or wall-mounted. They come in a range of styles, from traditional shaded lamps to minimalist models with adjustable goosenecks (long, thin, flexible necks). The base and body of these lamps should be durable metal construction, and the head should produce a steady, focused beam of light.
  • Desk lamps or task lamps are at least a foot high, with an adjustable neck or swivel arm to position the light in exactly the right spot. The body of a desk lamp may be plastic or metal, typically in neutral colors like black, brushed nickel, and white. The head should create a bright, focused light beam, which can be aimed at a book or workspace.
  • Floor lamps designed for reading are different from those intended for ambient lighting. Like desk lamps, these standing lamps should create a brightly focused beam of light that can be adjusted to the desired height and angle. Some floor lamps are two-in-one models that can double as desk lamps thanks to their adjustable stands.

Corded vs. Cordless

Portable reading lights and full-sized lamps come in either corded or cordless styles. The former are highly useful in home settings, when a plug outlet is easily accessible. They don’t require recharging and can simply be plugged in and switched on or off any time (or programmed with a timer).

Cordless lamps, in contrast, contain rechargeable batteries, typically with a lithium ion core for long-lasting charges. All types of reading lamps, including travel-size book lights, come in cordless styles. Desk, bedside, and floor lamps usually have a cord, but many brands have begun to move into cordless territory, offering a sleeker look and allowing the lamp to be moved anywhere, even when no plugs are in sight. After 30 to 60 hours of use, fast-charging USB ports recharge them. Expect your reading lamp to be back to full power after one to two hours of charging.

Bulb Type

In the past, incandescent bulbs, which conduct electricity across a metal filament, were commonly used for reading lights. However, they are not energy efficient and burn out relatively quickly. In contrast, LEDs (light-emitting diodes) are swiftly becoming the reading bulbs of choice in lamps of all types and sizes. The recommendations here contain LED bulbs because they are affordable, safe, energy efficient, long-lasting, and user-friendly. CLFs (compact fluorescent lights) are another option for highly efficient and cost-reducing bulbs. But LEDs are even brighter, and they offer more versatile size options, including travel light bulbs.

Features

Any good reading lamp or portable book light should come with certain key features. Look for lamps that allow you to adjust the brightness level at least three ways (low, medium, and high). Some LED reading lamps also can be adjusted to different color temperatures, from bright white to warmer, softer tones. The head or neck of the lamp also should be adjustable. For example, gooseneck lamps, which have long, thin necks attached to a solid base, can be positioned to almost any angle, allowing you to focus or diffuse the light as needed. Finally, for a good nighttime reading light, look for amber-colored bulbs that block blue wavelengths. Blue light, which are emitted by screens and artificial lights, is a growing health concern, as it suppresses the body’s production of melatonin, which disrupts circadian rhythms and generally leads to more restless, uneven sleep.

Our Top Picks

These lamps highlighted below provide user-friendly features and eye-friendly light. The recommendations in this list cover the many styles of reading light available: book, bedside, table, and floor. Affordable without sacrificing style or quality, they will save energy and money in the long run.

Best Book Light

The Best Reading Light Option: Vekkia Book Light Set with Charger
Photo: amazon.com

From Vekkia, this lightweight and adjustable book light offers three levels of brightness. Even at the brightest setting, the Vekkia provides soft—not glaring—light. That makes it great for the bedroom, or even an airplane—any situation where you don’t want your reading to disturb others.

The rechargeable battery provides up to 60 hours of continuous illumination. A charger is included. Also included is a handy travel case.

Pros

  • Offers three brightness levels
  • Includes rechargeable battery and charger
  • Holds charge up to 60 hours
  • Easy transportation for travel

Cons

  • Clip must be adjusted when turning pages


Bedside Favorite

The Best Reading Light Option: acegoo Dimmable Reading Light
Photo: amazon.com

Minimalist and finished in pretty matte black, acegoo’s reading light is designed to mount directly to the wall of your bedroom or to the headboard of your bed. Installation is easy, and the lamp provides a narrow, directed beam of soft, warm lighting. The flexible gooseneck is easily adjustable by hand, and a touch dimmer switch at the base of the lamp enables you to modulate the light’s intensity.

Pros

  • Flexible gooseneck for direct lighting
  • Provides soft light
  • Offers a touch dimmer to adjust brightness
  • Minimalist design

Cons

  • Must be mounted
  • Cannot be used on the go


Also Consider

The Best Reading Light Option: Hooga Book Light
Photo: amazon.com

From Hooga, this 2.5-ounce reading light boasts a fully adjustable, 7-inch gooseneck, with a lamp head that’s studded by four amber-colored LED bulbs. These bulbs output light at three different brightness levels and can provide up to 30 hours of continuous, gentle lighting. A charging cable is included.

Pros

  • Flexible gooseneck for direct lighting
  • Offers three brightness levels
  • Includes batteries and charging cable
  • Amber light is good for the eyes

Cons

  • Doesn’t hold a charge as long as others
  • Clip must be adjusted when turning pages


Our Verdict

Reading lights make convenient accessories for bookworms who want to read late into the night or in dark places without disturbing others with a bright light. The Vekkia Book Light Set is the best choice for readers who want an affordable reading light that offers various brightness levels and can be easily used on the go.

How We Chose the Best Reading Lights

Reading lights are great gift ideas and helpful tools for book lovers, allowing them to read late into the night, while traveling, or in darker rooms/environments. When we chose our best picks for reading lights, we considered features like price, soft light, brightness adjustability, flexible goosenecks versus mounting tools, battery life, and overall aesthetics.

Our top recommendations are easy to use, provide soft light of various brightness levels, and include all necessary accessories for assembly. Depending on the type of reading light preferred, as well as how it will be used (e.g., for travel versus at home), different reading lights may be used for different circumstances, like reading on a dark airplane without disturbing those around you or at home late at night without disturbing a partner or roommate. We narrowed down our choices to three models that are functional, affordable, and easy on the eyes.

FAQ About Your New Reading Light

All the essentials about these powerful little lamps are contained right here. From lumens to light color, make sure to choose the reading light that meets your needs and lifestyle.

Q. How many lumens does a good reading light need? 

Look for lamps that provide between 3,000 and 6,000 lumens. Lumens are a measurement of the total visible light emitted.

Q. Are LED lights good for reading? 

Yes! LEDs are very bright, and they can adjust to the brightness level and hue that work for each person.

Q. What’s the best light color for reading? 

It depends. Warmer, amber-coloured lights are best for reading at night. Cooler, whiter lights are good to use in the daytime and -stay focused.

Q. Which color light is easiest on the eyes at night?

Red- and yellow-spectrum lights are best for nighttime, not white or blue-tinted light.

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​​Andréana Lefton is a writer and educator, focusing on human rights and creating spaces of refuge—in our homes and communities. As a documentary researcher, she has freelanced with The Guardian as well as NPR- and BBC-affiliates. She’s written for On Being, the United Nations, and many non-profit clients in the US, UK, Europe, and Middle East. All that she knows of garden care and interior design she learned from her artistic mother, Jacqueline. She now applies these skills to her life in Chattanooga, TN, where home is an urban art studio with books piled everywhere.