Trying to enjoy a book, a magazine, or an e-reader when propped up on standard sleeping or throw pillows can cause neck strain, backaches, and poor posture. The solution might be a cozy, comfortable reading pillow. Unlike your favorite reading chair, these soft yet supportive cushions are as portable as they are plump, so you can use them in bed, on the sofa, or even on the floor. These pillows are also great to use for studying, watching TV, and gaming. If a reading pillow sounds like just the ticket, use this guide to learn which type will suit your style and why these are among the best reading pillow options on the market.
- BEST OVERALL: Husband Pillow – Dark Grey, Backrest Reading Pillow
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Ziraki Large Plush Shredded Foam Reading Pillow
- BEST FOR NECK SUPPORT: Linenspa Shredded Foam Reading Pillow, Neck Support
- BEST FOR BACK SUPPORT: Milliard Reading Pillow with Shredded Memory Foam
- BEST WEDGE SHAPE: Xtra-Comfort Bed Wedge Pillow – Folding Memory Foam
- BEST REMOVABLE NECK ROLL: ZOEMO Bed Rest Reading Pillow
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Reading Pillow
As long as it’s the ideal size, shape, material, and firmness level, a reading pillow can make sitting or reclining more comfortable. Keep these factors and features in mind when shopping for the best reading pillow.
Consumers don’t normally buy bookshelves that are poorly made or don’t suit their decor, and these same standards apply when shopping for reading pillows. The material—for both the filling and the outer cover—matters in the comfort, durability, and appearance of reading pillows.
- Memory foam filling, a viscoelastic foam, molds to the body for softness and support but returns to its original shape after use.
- Shredded memory foam is viscoelastic foam torn into small pieces for pillow filling.
- Microfiber and polyester fiber fillings contain synthetic or polymer fibers that don’t usually hold up as well as memory foam.
- Faux suede covers mimic the look and feel of soft animal skins yet are typically woven from fairly durable polyester microfiber.
- Velvet, a soft, densely piled fabric, is luxurious but must be cared for appropriately. Most manufacturers recommend dry cleaning and/or hand-washing in cold water.
- Velour, which resembles velvet in softness and visual appeal, is typically woven from cotton or polyester and is machine washable.
- Corduroy is woven from cotton with evenly spaced rows of raised pile. It’s durable and machine washable.
Traditional vs. Wedge
The traditional shape for a reading pillow mimics that of a cozy armchair, with a backrest plus two armrests that extend forward to surround the sitter in comfort on three sides. Since this design evokes the image of a loving, supportive partner, these products were originally dubbed “husband pillows” when they first hit the market.
Many modern reading pillows feature the traditional design, though some add a rounded bolster for additional neck support. For optimal versatility, look for a reading pillow with a detachable neck roll.
Wedge-shape reading pillows that eschew the traditional design offer several advantages. They may be placed for reclining along a gentle slope or for sitting in a more upright position. Alternatively, they can be used to elevate the legs and feet.
Several factors influence reading pillows’ comfort levels, including size, armrests, material, and neck rolls.
- Ideally, a backrest is tall enough to support the user’s back along the length of the spine.
- Traditional pillows should provide ample armrests, extending forward to give the user comfortable forearm support.
- Soft, plush covers in fabrics such as velour and corduroy provide a warm, luxurious feeling.
- Neck rolls enhance the comfort factor for some folks, and they may even reduce neck tension and pain.
To avoid backaches and neck pain caused by prolonged sitting in a less-than-ideal position, a reading pillow should offer optimal support for the user’s body. The best reading pillow balances softness and support for a premium experience.
Shredded memory foam filling offers top-notch support in many reading pillows. Similar to the memory foam used in mattresses, shredded memory foam offers the same advantages in a form frequently employed as pillow stuffing.
Several manufacturers provide zippered openings in the inner shells of their reading pillows, facilitating access to the shredded-foam filling. By removing or adding filling, users can customize the loft (thickness) of the reading pillow to modify its level of support.
Ease of Cleaning
Spills and messes are almost inevitable while using a reading pillow, making ease of cleaning a prime consideration. The easiest cleaning method is to zip off the cover and toss it in the washer. The pillow itself also may also be removed via a zippered opening for laundering. For best results, follow the manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning the cover and the pillow.
Some reading pillow covers are not removable, but the fabric may be spot-cleaned. A quick wipe with a damp cloth and mild detergent removes most messes.
A few additional features include a detachable neck roll that lets users modify the pillow’s shape. Carrying handles at the top of the backrest enable users to transport the pillow. Fabric pockets on the outer sides of armrests as well as the back of the backrest offer convenient places to stash glasses, TV remotes, magazines, notebooks, and pens.
Our Top Picks
The selections here represent reading pillows made from soft and durable materials that offer comfort and support for users’ backs and necks.
This Husband Pillow reading pillow provides back support even for tall adults. The armrests measure 7 inches in height and extend 15 inches from the backrest. A zippered inner shell allows users to add, remove, or shift the foam for customized comfort, while a removable neck roll attaches to the top of the backrest via bungee cords.
The luxurious velour cover for the pillow and the neck roll, available in 16 colors, is removable and machine washable. A roomy back pocket and a side pocket offer convenient storage for the TV remote or a book. Weighing around 9.1 pounds, the reading pillow has a built-in handle on the top for easy transport.
With a backrest 18 inches high and 15 inches wide, this budget-friendly reading pillow from Ziraki provides ample support. Shredded polyurethane-foam filling lets users customize the pillow’s shape for individual comfort.
The velvety-soft, 100 percent polyester cover is not removable, but the cover can be spot-cleaned with a damp cloth and mild detergent. A convenient handle attached to the top of the backrest invites users to carry this almost 6-pound reading pillow from room to room.
This reading pillow from Linenspa features a neck bolster that’s removable to adjust for individualized support. A shredded memory foam filling and support foam yields long-lasting loft. Linenspa is registered with the CertiPUR-US program, certifying that their shredded memory foam is safe, nontoxic, and pure.
Available in either navy blue or a neutral “stone” hue, the velour cover complements most interior decor colors. Spot-cleaning is recommended, because the cover is not machine washable. This reading pillow weighs around 15 pounds and includes a handle for portability.
The Milliard reading pillow comes in three sizes: 14-inch petite, 18-inch standard, and 24-inch extra large. The extra-large size boasts a removable neck bolster, adding an additional 6 inches to the overall height. It weighs 11 pounds and has a handle for portability.
The memory foam filling is accessible, allowing users to add or remove a portion of the foam filling to customize the loft. Milliard is registered with CertiPUR-US, which certifies that the memory foam is safe and nontoxic. The zippered velour cover comes in a light gray shade and is removable for machine washing and tumble drying on low heat.
The Xtra-Comfort wedge-shaped reading pillow offers three configurations for individualized comfort. Adjust the wedge pillow from a gentle slope to a more upright position, and enjoy how the memory foam filling contours to support the body. The Xtra-Comfort reading pillow can be used to support the back for sitting and reclining or to elevate the legs and feet.
The neutral caramel-colored cover is made of a soft, breathable polyester that’s easy to remove for machine washing. A convenient handle facilitates moving this almost 5-pound reading pillow from room to room.
A rounded bolster for neck support is a plus on this ZOEMO reading pillow. The reinforced, removable, memory foam-filled neck roll helps users avoid the neck pain that can occur from extended periods of reading, gaming, and watching TV. This model features 100 percent cotton filling, which can be customized by adding or removing a portion of the filling through a zippered opening.
The soft velour cover is available in five colors. The pillow weighs almost 6 pounds and has a convenient handle for portability.
FAQs About Reading Pillows
Reading pillows allow users to enjoy their favorite relaxing activities in comfort. If you want further information about these plush products, check out the answers to some frequently asked questions.
Q. What is a reading pillow?
Shaped like the back and arms of an upholstered armchair, a traditional reading pillow lets the user sit in a semi-reclining position on a bed, floor, or sofa.
Q. How do you use a reading pillow?
Simply place the reading pillow on a bed, floor, or sofa and lean back to experience cushiony support and softness. This semi-reclining position is ideal for watching TV, gaming, and, of course, reading.
Q. How do I clean a reading pillow?
If the cover is removable via a zippered opening, slip it off and follow the manufacturer’s laundering instructions. If the cover is not removable, spot-cleaning with a damp cloth and mild detergent should eliminate most spills and messes.