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Picture this: You’re tucked in bed reading when, suddenly, the plot thickens. Voldemort appears, Pi traps himself in a boat with a tiger, Christian Grey reaches for the — annnnnd you get a kink in your neck.
Don’t sweat, it’s a textbook problem easily solved with a reading pillow. If you were a Scholastic Book Fair kind of kid, you already know what these bad boys are: pillows designed to support your shoulders, neck, and back so you’re not slouched over while devouring Moby Dick, Crime and Punishment or — admit it — Twilight. And the best part? Reading pillows can also be used for rehabilitation, gaming, or WFB (working from bed).
For working night owls, bookworms, and comfort-seekers alike, reading pillows will up your relaxation game by helping you stay tension-free. Read on to find our faves and some tips for shopping.
We try to weigh all options when we review products — but this time, we specifically prioritized comfort and functionality. Whether you’re resting or creating, you deserve physical support.
- Types and functionality. We searched beyond the classic reading pillow for products that suit more needs — i.e. lying in bed, sitting on the couch, or stretching out on the floor. Many of our picks also double as vehicles for recovery, especially if you need a little extra cushion or elevation to relieve pain or after surgery.
- Angle, support and comfort. While some dreamers prefer to feel like they’re sinking into a cloud when they rest on a pillow, others need something to hold their spines upright. Often dictated by filling, our selection offers firm and plush choices for every preference.
- Extras. OK, who doesn’t love pockets? Many of these pillows are designed to simply make your life easier, featuring mini compartments, extra head support, handles, and removable cases for an easy wash.
- Style. If your mom bought you a bright pink and polka-dotted reading pillow in middle school, no shame. Our grabs won’t bring up any scarring memories as we tapped products that blend in with any aesthetic.
- $ = under $51
- $$ = $51–$80
- $$$ = $81–$110
- $$$$ = over $110
Best basic reading pillow
- Price: $
- Materials: 100% polyester cover, 100% polyester fill
UGG’s Clifton Backrest Pillow sports the classic reading pillow shape from your younger years. The basic shape provides a supportive back cushion and the trendy AF faux Sherpa cover gives it a cozy feel. It’s also pretty enough to live on practically any bed or sofa — without stretching your wallet. It receives high marks from its satisfied customers, even those who are recovering from shoulder surgery.
You can read, work, or chill on this classic reading pillow, but there’s a catch — the outer, mostly white cover can’t be removed. So if you’re stain-prone, you’ll have to spot clean instead of tossing it in the wash.
Best untraditional reading pillow
- Price: $$
- Materials: 100% polyester knit cover, polyester and foam fill
While Sleep Number’s reading pillow does have a different look than most other reading pillows out there, it doesn’t inflate like the brand’s signature beds (sad). BUT we love it for its unique shape — it has two separate chambers of material designed to provide comfort and support. The top portion is made from polyester for a plush pillowy feel and the bottom is constructed with memory foam and down alternative to help support your back.
It also fits into a classic Euro-sized square sham, so you might already own the perfect pillowcase for it (woot!).
Best wedge-shaped reading pillow
- Price: $$
- Materials: Plant-based Tencel cover, gel memory foam and foam fill
This firm wedge pillow from Brentwood Home was designed with this versatility in mind: For reading and working, prop the long side against your headboard so it supports your neck and upper back. To nap, just flip the pillow so your head rests on the long incline. You can also slide it under your knees for a little bit of elevation.
It has a super soft, durable, and removable knit cover and contains CertiPUR-US foam designed to help keep you cool. It’s also 100 percent Certified Vegan, Climate Neutral, and Greenguard Gold certified (aka it’s good for you and the planet).
Reviewers? They love it, too, but some mention their heads slide down the cushion’s slant when they snooze longer than a catnap.
Most versatile reading pillow
- Price: $
- Materials: 100% polyester cover, 100% polyester fill
10-in-1 means there’s fun for everyone (#SorryNotSorry for the lame rhyme 🤷). But seriously, this two-piece set is a legit people pleaser. It can act as a unit to support your back, or you can separate it and use either part as an individual pillow or wedge. It’s also the perfect solution for reading on your stomach because the larger portion supports your chest while the smaller section creates a little nook to hold and cushion your elbows.
Because it’s made from polyester inside and out, it def has a softer feel than foam pillows like Brentwood Home’s. Post-op reviewers can’t get enough, so long as they don’t need the support of something firmer. But that shouldn’t deter you from the near perfect rating from reviewers that say they’d snag another set for a pal.
Most stylish reading pillow
- Price: $$–$$$$
- Materials: Corduroy cover, polyester and polyurethane foam fill
With a variety of sizes and lengths, you don’t have to compromise when selecting a style of this reading pillow. Obvi, the long wedge-shaped pillow is intended to cushion your headboard, but it’s also the perfect way to accessorize your bed (byeee uncomfy throw pillows!). It has a washable cover and reviewers say it manages to feel firm while maintaining bounce. Keep in mind that the corduroy material might feel a little hotter than a polyester or cotton cover.
Oh, and as promised, it has pockets for any and all WFH utensils.
Most supportive reading pillow
- Price: $$$$
- Materials: Organic bamboo cover, memory foam fill
If your goal is support, this set has (literally) got your back. It contains four pieces — a back rest, back support, headrest, and wedge — to prop your entire body into a pressure-relieving position similar to the “zero gravity” modes found on adjustable beds. You can configure the four pieces however you want to find the most comfortable set up for you.
RE: customer satisfaction: Reviewers post-childbirth, amid cancer treatments, and with scoliosis recommend the set because it optimizes a variety of rest positions without too much fuss. So if you’re looking for an ultra-supportive pillow to get your read on, this is the one.
Your needs come first and foremost. Here’s how you should break down and rank your priorities when shopping for your reading pillow:
Type and shape
There are a bunch of different types and shapes of reading pillows out there. Here are some quick pros and cons of the most common types:
- The more basic armchair shaped pillow is usually cheap, easy to maneuver, and comfy, but they usually don’t make for an amazing pillow to sleep on all night long.
- Longer, larger cushions provide solid lumbar support and add a decorative touch, but they work best if you have a headboard or are using them on the couch.
- Wedge pillows and multi-sectioned pillows like Sharper Image’s and Sleep Number’s can be flipped and turned to serve different purposes, so they’re a great pick for all-night use, too.
- Multi-piece sets like Lunix’s are typically designed for post-op recovery and chronic pain, so they’re really supportive — but they take a little more effort to set up and put away. They’re typically also the priciest $$$$.
Outer shells can range from polyester blends to bamboo velvet. While fun, fuzzy, and stylish fabrics have a cozy factor, they might also feel a little hot and be harder to wash. Polyester and cotton covers are less likely to leave you feeling too hot — and they’re also super easy to care for.
If we’re looking beyond the surface, polyester and memory foam are the two most common filling materials. Memory foam is firmer and ideal for providing support and reducing pressure. Polyester fillings make for a plusher feel that might not provide a ton of support for all-night comfort, but they’re often perfect your late-night TV or reading sesh.
Most of the products come with a removable cover — and that’s for your benefit. Your washing machine prob won’t be able to fit an entire reading pillow in it to keep it clean, and most aren’t designed to get thrown in the wash anyways. So stick to lower maintenance products that are built for easy care.
Reading pillows are multi-talented. They’re comfy, add a decorative touch to your space, and can even help alleviate snoring, acid reflux, and pain caused by poor posture. So if you’re tired AF of your sore neck distracting you from turning those pages, it might be time to get shoppin’. Our list above has a solid range of shapes, sizes, firmness levels, and materials to help you find the perfect pillow for you.