The 10 Best Reading Lights

Updated March 09, 2018 by Melissa Harr

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We spent 41 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top picks for this wiki. Perfect for allowing you to read comfortably in bed without disturbing your partner, these reading lights come in highly portable designs that clip either onto your book or your furniture. Available in a range of power options, including battery and USB, they’re also wonderful for illuminating craft areas or campgrounds. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best reading light on Amazon.

10. WalterDrake Headboard

If you’re looking for a dedicated reading lamp for nighttimes only, then you might want the WalterDrake Headboard. The bendable metal hooks open up to 1.5 inches wide, so it fits many beds, and its pull chain makes for effortless operation.
  • also great for nighttime knitters
  • provides useful illumination angle
  • doesn't include bulb
Brand WalterDrake
Model COMINHKPR25752
Weight 1.3 pounds
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

9. Mighty Bright Recharge

For travel, check out the Mighty Bright Recharge, which is constructed of tough and flexible silicone. The two LEDs shine through a precisely engineered lens that spreads the light evenly, illuminating a greater area while using less energy.
  • recharges fully in one hour
  • low battery indicator
  • slim clip may not fit all e-readers
Brand Mighty Bright
Model 47012
Weight 3.2 ounces
Rating 3.8 / 5.0

8. Ikea Jansjo

Although it tends toward being floppy, the Ikea Jansjo is useful thanks to a 1.25-inch clamp that’ll go almost anywhere you need it to, from counters to tables. Its body is powder-coated for durability, so it’ll last as long as its 20,000-hour LED.
  • comes in white or black
  • slim enough for the smallest places
  • a little harsh for extended reading
Brand Ikea
Model 801.696.36
Weight 11.2 ounces
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

7. Lumiens L9

Okay, technically, the Lumiens L9 was created for musicians and not readers. However, it’s got a wide grip, nine lights, and a no-flicker design, so it’s just as useful for book lovers. You can use the AC adapter or switch to batteries when you’re on the go.
  • strong and secure gooseneck
  • silicone pad in clip for protection
  • pricier than many options
Brand Lumiens
Model L9
Weight 14.4 ounces
Rating 3.6 / 5.0

6. Newhouse Lighting 3W

The energy-saving Newhouse Lighting 3W offers a nonflickering, soft warm glow that’s got a color temperature of 3000K, so it’s not as bright or harsh as other models. This sleek, modern design is available in black, blue, or purple.
  • perfect for dorm rooms
  • polished chrome gooseneck
  • suction cup grips for stability
Brand Newhouse Lighting
Weight 1.1 pounds
Rating 4.5 / 5.0

5. Kedsum 7 Watt Black

The Kedsum 7 Watt Black features a touch-sensitive control panel with five brightness levels. It has an extra-strong clip that grips almost anything, but it’s also balanced so that it can stand on its own, or it can be attached to a wall.
  • neck rotates completely
  • zero-radiation beam is easy on eyes
  • not as long-lasting as other models
Model pending
Weight 1.1 pounds
Rating 4.5 / 5.0

4. LuminoLite Rechargeable

When you think of a book light, it’s probably something like the classic design of the LuminoLite Rechargeable that you picture. With its built-in, lithium-ion battery, six powerful LEDs, and two brightness settings, you’ll be reading long into the night.
  • helps reduce eyestrain
  • runs up to 20 hours between charges
  • plastic is a bit flimsy
Brand LuminoLite
Model pending
Weight 4.8 ounces
Rating 4.8 / 5.0

3. Trond Halo

The Trond Halo gives you the ability to choose from among five lighting temperatures, from 3000K to 6200K, and five dimming levels, so you can set the perfect illumination for any activity. This eye-protective model is flicker-free and anti-glare with no ghosting.
  • built-in memory function
  • handy usb charging port
  • 30-minute timer mode
Model Halo 11W-C
Weight 1.7 pounds
Rating 4.7 / 5.0

2. Raniaco Clip

The Raniaco Clip charges via USB, taking about 4 hours to power up completely and letting you know it’s finished when the red indicator light goes off. When full, it should run for about 24 hours in its dim mode, 12 hours in medium, and 6 in high.
  • can stand on its base
  • lightweight and portable
  • excellent bendability
Brand Raniaco
Model JRRL001
Weight 5 ounces
Rating 4.6 / 5.0

1. Mighty Bright XtraFlex2

Offered in several colors so you can accessorize easily, the Mighty Bright XtraFlex2 runs on AAA batteries or an optional AC adapter. Although it doesn’t have tons of bells and whistles, its gooseneck and clamp are both sturdy, so you’ll get plenty of use from it.
  • even light spread
  • cradle base also available
  • good for crafts such as needlework
Brand Mighty Bright
Model 40511
Weight 5 ounces
Rating 4.7 / 5.0

Is Reading In The Dark Really Bad For Your Eyes?

According to most modern research, it seems as though the negative visual effects of reading in the dark are largely grounded in myth, at least for adults. However, there is some science behind the idea that dim light may detrimentally affect a child's vision. Let's take a moment to look at how our eyes adjust to different lighting conditions. When you are in a dim environment, your pupils dilate in an attempt to take in the most light possible. Light is what the cells in your retina use to provide information to your brain about what you see. As your pupil dilates, the light begins to hit your retina in different spots, slightly blurring the image.

When reading in dim light, the contrast between the white pages and black words decreases, prompting many people to pull a book closer to better see the text. As you vary the distance between your eyes and the book, the ciliary muscle contracts and expands, slightly reshaping the eye. This is another method by which your eyes work to bring the light to a focal point towards the back of retina.

In adults, the eyes are no longer in the developmental stages, so when the light once again increases, the pupils quickly shrink and the ciliary muscle relaxes. In children, though, constant reading in low light conditions may have the potential to cause the vitreous chamber in the eye to grow abnormally long. Because their eyes are still developing, it is possible this could result in myopia as they age.

Even if reading in dim light most likely isn't going to cause permanent eye damage to adults, there is no doubt that it causes the eyes to strain. Overworking the eyes results in a number of symptoms, such as soreness, burning, itching, dryness, headaches, blurred vision, difficulty focusing, and more.

Choosing The Right Style Of Reading Light

Generally, you will have three kinds of reading lights to choose from: freestanding, mountable, and clip-on. Freestanding lights can be a smart choice if you don't have anywhere convenient to clip a light onto, and don't want to deal with the hassle of mounting one. There are two drawbacks with freestanding lights, however. First, they are easy to accidentally knock over. Second, when in bed, it is often difficult to find a suitable place to set a freestanding reading light where it will fully illuminate the pages without casting a shadow on them. If using the reading light in an office setting, though, where the book will be laid flat on the desk, this often isn't an issue.

Mountable lights avoid some of the drawbacks of freestanding lights, but come with their own pros and cons. The major benefit of this style is their stability. Once installed, you won't have to worry about knocking it over, and since it is attached to the wall, it will rarely get in the way. Many people find it a hassle to mount a light into their headboard or wall, though, especially those who don't have an electric screwdriver. Another issue is that, once mounted, they are pretty well permanent. If you change reading positions or move to a different spot in the room, you won't be able to take your reading light along with you.

Clip-on lights offer the perfect compromise between convenience, stability, and versatility. Because of the way they clip onto furniture, you will have a range of placement options. They can affix to a headboard, the edge of a table, or the stem of a large floor lamp. You can even find clip-on reading lights that also function as freestanding models or ones that are lightweight and compact enough to clip directly onto to the book itself. Clipping onto furniture makes them very stable and less likely to get knocked over, as well. If you want to change positions or move to another place in the room, it is easy to simply unclip the light and bring it along with you. All of these factors often make clip-on models the best style of reading light for most people.

Tips To Prevent Eye Strain While Reading

There are a number of things you can do to make reading less straining on the eyes. Ideally you should have multiple sources of illumination when reading. The best atmosphere for reading is a well-lit room with a focused pool of light on the reading material, and comfortable ambient lighting around the rest of the room. The goal is to avoid high light contrast between the area you are reading and the far ends of the room. It is natural for the eye to periodically wander away from the page while reading. This means that in a room with a high lighting contrast, the eyes are drifting between brightly lit areas and dark areas, causing the pupils to constantly dilate and shrink, and the ciliary muscle to constantly contract and expand. The result is a lot of eye strain and fatigue. If the reading light is the sole source of illumination, choose a model that has a wide throw so it creates more ambient light instead of just a focused beam.

You should also keep in mind your personal lighting needs. Younger people don't need as much light to read as older people. At age of 10, the eyes only need about 500 lumens to read without causing strain. By the age of 30, that number increases to about 1,000 lumens, and by the age of 60, the eyes require closer to 2,000 lumens.

It also helps to take regularly breaks. Try and follow the 20-20-20 rule. After every 20 minutes of reading, take 20 seconds to look at an object at least 20 feet away. This gives the eyes a moment to rest. Many people tend to stare at the page while reading. This can cause the eyes to dry out and become irritated. Make a conscious effort to remind yourself to blink or consider using artificial tears to periodically moisten the eyes.

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Last updated on March 09, 2018 by Melissa Harr

Melissa is a writer, editor, and EFL educator from the U.S. She's worked in the field since earning her B.A. in 2012, during which time she's judged fiction contests, taught English in Asia, and authored e-courses about arts and crafts. In her free time, she likes to make stuff out of sticks and string.

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