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12 best reading lamps for cosying up with a good book

From the student-friendly to the stylish, we’ve found the best lights to read, sketch, revise and more with

Tamara Hinson
Wednesday 24 March 2021 16:43
<p>We used them in dimly-lit corners as well as areas benefitting from a certain amount of natural light</p>

We used them in dimly-lit corners as well as areas benefitting from a certain amount of natural light

Calling all bookworms! Sales of books have apparently rocketed since the first lockdown, with many of us rediscovering the simple joy of cosying up with a good tome. However, you shouldn’t underestimate the importance of good lighting.

We’ve decided to take a look at the best reading lamps, ranging from kid-friendly lights for bedtime storytelling sessions, to stylish student-friendly lamps for late night cramming.

Read more: 10 best lampshades that will inject personality into your living space

We tested our lamps in a myriad of ways – by using them in dimly-lit corners as well as areas benefitting from a certain amount of natural light. We also paid close attention to how they performed when stationed on a wide range of surfaces, ranging from slippery glass bedside tables to cramped office desks.

The ease with which the shade could be angled was a major focus of our attention, as was the power source. Given that most people own plugs with USB ports, a reliance on USB power wasn’t a problem, although as with mains-powered lamps, the critical factor was that the cable was of a sufficient length.

We haven’t included the lumen count simply because some of the lamps didn’t come with bulbs, or could be used with a wide range of bulbs, and because our testing showed that the best lamps allowed the brightness to be altered in other ways – with touch-sensitive buttons for example, or with the help of an ultra-flexible neck.

You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps to fund journalism across The Independent.

La Redoute moricio brass and smoky glass table lamp

Power source: Mains

We suggest splashing out on two of these beautiful lights – they look great on their own, but even better together, especially when placed on bedside tables either side of a bed. The star of the show is the oversized, sandblasted glass globe which encases the bulb (not included), which reduces the bulb’s glare to a soft, diffused light, which means you can have this lamp close by without needing to reach for the sunglasses.

Anglepoise original 1227 mini desk lamp

Power source: Mains

The Dyson of lights, Anglepoise dates back to 1932, when automotive engineer George Carwardine developed a new type of spring – one which became a trademark of his legendary lamps. Today, the original 1227 mini desk lamp is one of Anglepoise’s bestsellers.

Everything, from the satisfyingly chunky switch, to the pebble-smooth chrome fittings, screams luxury, and the light’s arm flexes and stretches with unbeatable ease. We loved the fact that the switch is within easy reach on the padded base, which had a reassuring weightiness – this isn’t the lightest of lamps, but it’s one which will certainly stay put.

Batwing posable desk light

Power source: USB

This spectacular lamp is perfect for illuminating bat caves and bedrooms on dark knights (get it?). It’s got a gobsmacking level of detail, and has been made from a type of plastic which can be broken down by microbes, minimising its time in landfill. Given its unusual shape, we appreciated the presence of a heavyweight base, and the spring-loaded main arm means it’s wonderfully easy to direct the LED light. We also liked the extra-long USB cord – all too often these are ridiculously short.

Koble pixie phone charging lamp

Power source: Mains

The statuesque lamp, which comes with a bulb, will instantly upgrade the drabbest of desks, thanks to a glossy grey paint job and retro-inspired styling. Despite its minimalistic appearance, it’s packed with features, including a wireless charging station and the option to scroll through three lighting options (two shades of white and a warm yellow), simply by tapping the touch-sensitive controls. You can also programme the lamp to turn off after 40 minutes. We’d have perhaps preferred to see a slightly heavier base, but we appreciated the addition of protective rubber pads.

Piranha plant posable lamp

Power source: USB

Who said lights had to be boring? Lighten up your desk or bedside table with this brilliant Super Mario Bros-inspired piranha lamp, complete with a flexible stalk and ultra-bright LED bulb. It’s incredibly tactile, with soft rubbery leaves and teeth (although we’re the first to admit we never expected to be referencing a lamp’s teeth) and the powerful LED light can be easily directed.

Next Paris table lamp

Power source: Mains

Yes, this lamp’s bowl-like shade brings to mind the enormous satellite dishes used to detect far-flung UFOs, but that’s exactly why we love it. The anodised look and feel of the metal give it a strangely beautiful industrial look, while the stripped-back arm, handle and base offer a nod to mid-century modern styling.

Given the oversized shade and ultra-thin base, we assumed stability would take a back seat, but we were wrong – this lamp wasn’t going anywhere. You’ll need a screwdriver to attach the base to the rest of the lamp, which gets additional bonus points for the fact that it comes with a bulb.

Harry Potter golden snitch light clip

Power source: Batteries

This lamp’s flexible arm is ultra-slim, and when turned on, the illuminated part of the light looks as though it’s floating through the air. You’ll need three AAA batteries (annoyingly not included) for this surprisingly bright light, which has several brightness settings and is small enough to be clipped onto the edge of a book. However, it works equally well as a bedside light, and its long flexible neck allows enough control over the direction of the beam to ensure that it won’t disturb room-mates.

The Range grey retro desk lamp

Power source: Mains

This is another light which looks as though it costs much, much more than it does. The extra-deep shade allows it to provide a bright, powerful light without a hint of harsh glare, and the sleek, high gloss finish – offset with splashes of gleaming metal – offers an instant upgrade to the plainest of offices, bedrooms and reading rooms. The shade has plenty of flex, and the weighty padded base keeps it in place.

FatBoy Edison the petit

Power source: USB/battery

A modern take on the classic reading lamp, this smooth-sided, sculpture-like lamp produces a wonderfully cosy glow which can be adjusted using the plastic pull dangling from the lamp’s underside. What we loved most about this lamp was the versatility – at best, lamps typically offer two or three shades of brightness, but Edison the Petit’s brightness can be tweaked in tiny increments, simply by pulling the plastic tab for more or less time. When fully charged (using the cable provided) you’ll get up to 24 hours of light.

Habitat Lizzie desk lamp

Power source: Mains

Our first thoughts when we saw this lamp – more reading lights need to come in colours other than grey, black and white. This welcome burst of burnt orange will instantly liven up the plainest of rooms, and its pared-back styling adds a touch of glam.

Its clever design provides brilliant stability while taking up minimum space – we freed up room by placing our book on the part which doubles as a base. We also appreciated the safety-conscious addition of a separate metal stalk which can be screwed into the shade to prevent contact with other surfaces.

Iconic Lights Angus copper adjustable table lamp

Power source: Mains

This lamp is absolutely stunning – something which seems to be more suited to the Victoria and Albert Museum than a desk or side table. Combining two of the hottest home decor trends – rose gold and geometry – it’s a brilliant, statuesque light which somehow has the ability to both stand out from the crowd, and look fantastic against any backdrop.

The lack of a traditional shade inevitably means more glare, although when purchasing the lamp customers can choose between two bulbs – one which will cast a bright white, and another which provides a softer amber glow.

Light and Lamps lever 1 light matt black task table lamp

Power source: Mains

This takes the phrase “stripped back” to a whole new level. A monochrome masterpiece with an oversized bulb, it’s a light with an edgy appeal drawn solely from its stark minimalism. There’s no shade, but the bulbs you’ll be able to purchase when buying the light come in a clear or soft finish, allowing you to dial down the glare. Our one complaint relates to the slight stiffness – we’d have loved to see more fluid movement of the shade.

The verdict: Reading lamps

Our best buy goes to La Redoute’s moricio brass & smoky glass table lamp, which proves that reading lamps can be fabulous, as well as functional. The sandblasted globe prevented any excess glare, and its ultra-sturdy base kept it fixed to the spot.

Anglepoise’s original 1227 mini desk lamp nabs second place, simply because it’s a top-quality light which hasn’t just been built to last, but which looks gorgeous, and can be adjusted in the blink of an eye.

Finally, you don’t have to be a kid – or even a Batman fan – to appreciate the fantastic Batwing Posable Desk Light, which has a mind-boggling level of detail and a well-considered design, whether it’s the extra-long USB cord or the use of degradable plastic.

We’ve also found the best bedside lamps to brighten up your bedroom

IndyBest product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing.

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