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Reading pillows are designed to make sitting upright in bed more comfortable by supporting the upper body and aligning the spine. They come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and materials to accommodate different body types and preferences. Your sitting style and support needs can help you choose the best design for you.

Many people like to read, journal, or stream their favorite show while lounging in bed. However, sitting upright can be uncomfortable without a buffer between you and your headboard. Most standard pillows don’t make supportive backrests, and leaning on a pillow that is too soft can lead to aches and pains over time. 

Unlike conventional pillows, a reading pillow is designed to align the spine when you are sitting upright. Many are also sloped so that the lumbar region receives extra support, and some have extra comfort features like headrests and armrests. 

Based on our in-house testing, we’ll discuss our picks for the best reading pillows. We’ll also provide some tips on how to choose a reading pillow based on your personal needs and preferences.

In-Depth Reviews

The Sleep Number Rest & Read Pillow has two sections that balance pressure relief and stability. The softer top section cushions the neck and shoulders, while the firmer lower section supports the lower back. This allows the pillow to remain supportive even over longer periods of use.

  • Pros

    1. Machine-washable cover

    2. A soft upper section and firm lower section blend cushioning with support

    3. Compatible with Euro pillow covers

  • Cons

    1. Foam may emit some off-gassing odors at first

    2. Not compatible with standard pillowcase size




Down alternative, memory foam, polyester fiber



Sleep Number’s Rest & Read Pillow functions primarily as a backrest. The top chamber consists of soft polyester to relieve neck tension. The firmer bottom section uses shredded memory foam to bolster the lower back. The pillow includes a removable, machine-washable cover.

How It Performed

We found that the softer top section allowed the head and neck to comfortably sink without sacrificing support, while the memory foam section provided good cushioning with only minimal compressing.

Memory foam is known to trap heat, but we didn’t find this to be an issue with the Rest & Read Pillow. This is likely because shredded memory foam and polyester are more ventilated than a solid piece of conventional memory foam.

While the Read & Rest Pillow excels as a reading pillow, it is not as well-suited to sleeping as some of our other picks. That said, the pillow’s medium firmness level did appeal to our back sleepers. Its moderate loft also promoted good spine alignment for side sleepers under 230 pounds.

What It’s Made Of

The upper chamber of the Rest & Read Pillow consists of 100% polyester fiber fill. The lower chamber blends 75% shredded memory foam with 25% polyester down alternative. The removable knit cover is 100% polyester. It can be washed by machine in cold water and tumble dried on a low setting. The insert is spot-clean only.

The pillow’s OEKO-TEX Standard 100 certification means that it has been tested and found free of hundreds of potentially harmful substances. The foam is also CertiPUR-US certified to meet high standards for content and VOCs emissions.

The pillow is 22 inches wide by 22 inches tall, and it fits a Euro pillow cover. Sleep Number offers free UPS ground shipping to the contiguous U.S. The pillow is backed by a 100-night sleep trial and a one-year warranty.

Available in three profiles, Brentwood Home’s Zuma Foam Wedge Pillow contains dense memory foam that contours gently while forming a stable base for your head, neck, and shoulders. Another notable feature is the cooling cover, which reduces heat retention to help maintain a comfortable temperature.

  • Pros

    1. Dense, solid foam provides ample cushioning without hugging you too closely

    2. Cover composed of breathable, moisture-wicking fabric

    3. Available in three loft levels

  • Cons

    1. Foam is prone to heat retention

    2. Sleepers sensitive to smell may notice some off-gassing odors at first

Price Range

$54 – $69


Solid memory foam



The oversized Zuma Foam Wedge Pillow from Brentwood Home allows you to sit up and read comfortably anywhere in your home. Measuring 24 inches by 24 inches, the pillow is available in lofts of 7, 10, and 12 inches to suit your ideal padding level. All models contain dense memory foam that adapts to your shoulders and back without hugging closely or losing shape.

How It Performed

Our testers enjoyed the Zuma’s deep cushioning and gently sloping design. The firm feels dense enough to keep your head and neck properly elevated, but also plush and adaptive to alleviate pain and soreness in these areas. If you sit up while reading, you should also notice less discomfort in your lower back. Temperature control is another major strength of the pillow — we’ve attributed this to the breathable cover.

What It’s Made of

The cover is made of viscose derived from bamboo, a breathable fabric that excels at moisture control and offsets heat retention from the foam. This addition makes the pillow ideal for people who tend to feel excessively warm when lying on solid foam. You may remove and machine-wash the cover whenever a cleaning is needed. If the cover becomes damaged, you can order a replacement for a small fee.

The Zuma Foam Wedge Pillow carries an approachable sticker price, and Brentwood Home offers free ground shipping within the contiguous U.S. The company’s sleep trial runs for 30 nights. If you choose to return the pillow during this time frame, you’ll receive a full refund and won’t pay for any associated shipping costs or processing fees.

If you’re looking for an affordable, versatile pillow that’s more than just a backrest, you might consider the Contour Living Flip. The two-piece pillow has a number of support options for both sitting and lying down.

  • Pros

    1. Breathable 100% cotton cover

    2. Accommodates ten support positions

    3. Available in standard and king sizes

  • Cons

    1. May feel too soft for those who prefer firm pillows

    2. Specialized pillowcase is sold separately

Price Range

$60 – $80


Fiber Fill



The Contour Living Flip Pillow features a wedge pillow connected to a rectangular bolster. Both elements have a moldable fiber fill encased in breathable cotton. The flippable design allows for ten support positions.

How It Performed

When used as a backrest, the pillow’s large size gave our testers considerable lumbar support. Despite being soft and pliable, the pillow retains its shape for long periods of time. We also liked how easy it was to mold into different shapes and lofts for a variety of uses, including sitting upright, lying back on a sofa, and supporting the knees.

With its substantial loft, the pillow does a good job of supporting side and back sleeping. It was especially popular among our back sleepers, who found that it provided solid support while still feeling plush. Our hot sleepers also reported that the cotton cover was quite breathable.

What It’s Made Of

The Contour Living Flip Pillow has a soft fiber fill interior and a 100% cotton shell. The pillow is available in standard or king sizes. The king size is 30 inches wide compared to the standard’s 20-inch width, so the king can accommodate people with broader shoulders and torsos. Both sizes have an 8-inch loft.

A pillowcase is sold separately and comes in white, tan, and blue. The tan and blue cases are 100% cotton, while the white is microfiber.

The Contour Living Flip Pillow ships compressed, so the manufacturer recommends fluffing it in the dryer before use. You can buy the pillow from Contour Living’s website, Amazon, and various retailers. It comes with free shipping and a 45-day return policy when purchased directly from Contour Living. A one-year warranty is also included.

It’s rare for a pillow to function equally well as a backrest and sleeping pillow, which is why we were impressed with the Sharper Image 10-in-1 Flip Pillow. It’s a good fit for a wide variety of sleepers, thanks to its flexible design and medium firmness.

  • Pros

    1. Multipurpose design

    2. Soft and malleable polyester fill

    3. Available in two sizes

  • Cons

    1. Pillow insert may only be spot cleaned

    2. Sleepers who require strong support may find the pillow too soft

Price Range

$50 – $80





The Sharper Image 10-in-1 Flip Pillow features a two-piece flippable design with a range of functions. It can be used as a backrest, leg bolster, or standard sleeping pillow. The pillow comes in both standard and queen/king sizes.

How It Performed

This was one of the few reading pillows we tested that also accommodated stomach, back, and side sleeping. The soft polyester fill eased head and shoulder tension when used as a backrest, and the lower section kept its shape even when used for extended periods.

The pillow can be used in ten different positions by flipping, molding, and placing it in different areas. This feature may be particularly helpful for sleepers with back pain, who can benefit from putting the pillow beneath their knees.

We also found that the pillow stays fairly cool, which will likely appeal to hot sleepers.

What It’s Made Of

The 10-in-1 Flip Pillow consists of two connected wedge pillows, both with a polyester fill. The cover is also polyester. The pillow is spot-clean only, but the pillowcases are machine-washable. Fitted pillowcases are sold separately.

Both pillow sizes have an 8-inch loft and medium firmness. Shoppers can buy the pillow from Sharper Image’s website or one of their physical stores. Unopened and unused pillows are returnable within 60 days of purchase. The pillow includes a one-year limited warranty.

The Moon Pod Crescent elevates the comfort of your bed, sofa, and any other furnishing where you frequently read. Thanks to adaptive bead fill, the ergonomic horseshoe design cushions the lower back without hugging too closely.

  • Pros

    1. Plush, U-shaped design provides excellent lower back support

    2. Bead fill adapts to your body for a personalized fit

    3. Armrests on each side let you read comfortably

  • Cons

    1. 14-day return policy is shorter than average

    2. Returns incur a 20% restocking fee







Moon Pod’s take on the reading pillow is both ergonomic and adaptive. Thousands of high-density beads create a feel akin to a luxury bean bag, so you’ll notice some contouring without the close “hugging” effect of memory foam. The horseshoe shape provides excellent cushioning for the lower back, and armrests to help you read comfortably for hours on end.

How It Performed

We were impressed with the Crescent’s versatility. You can use the pillow on your bed, couch, bean bag, or any other reading surface in your home. Our team also enjoyed how the beads gently conform and mold to your body’s unique curves. This helps alleviate stiffness, soreness, and pressure points in the lower back and hips. The armrests are another nice touch. You can rest your elbows at a comfortable height, allowing you to read for as long as you wish.

What It’s Made of

High-density beads make up the fill, and the cover is composed of soft polyester. Five cover colors are available. A small handle at the top also makes the pillow portable and easy to carry around the house. You can use the Crescent with the flagship Moon Pod. If you enjoy sharing a reading surface with another person, you may also upgrade to the Super Moon Pod made for two.

Moon Pod offers free ground delivery to customers in the contiguous U.S., and reasonable flat-rate shipping for orders to Alaska and Hawaii. Returns are honored within 14 days of receipt. If needed, you can purchase a replacement cover on Moon Pod’s website.

Why You Should Trust Us

We researched and tested dozens of reading pillows before coming up with our top picks. We mainly focused on how they performed as a back support, but we also evaluated their use as knee bolsters and sleeping pillows. Our tests focus on a variety of elements that are relevant for making a purchase, including a pillow’s performance in areas like support, firmness, and breathability.

What Is a Reading Pillow?

A reading pillow is a pillow designed to comfortably support the upper body and back when you are sitting upright. They vary in material and design to suit a range of body types and preferences. 


Reading pillows come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Wedge pillows are popular, as their sloped design reinforces good sitting posture. Some reading pillows feature two distinct but connected components. The upper section is often softer to cushion the neck and shoulders, while a firmer bottom section stabilizes the back. Some models also include head and armrests. 


Like standard sleep pillows, reading pillows can be made from any number of natural or synthetic materials. Each has its pros and cons.

  • Memory Foam: Also known as viscoelastic polyurethane foam, memory foam is common in reading pillows because it cradles the body but returns to its original shape once the pressure from your body is removed. Solid memory foam pillows tend to be firmer, while those made with shredded pieces are more pliable. Memory foam pillows tend to have an average price-point.
  • Polyfoam: Polyfoam reading pillows can be durable and supportive. Denser varieties are usually favorable since they don’t compress as much. Polyfoam tends to be less expensive than memory foam, but it doesn’t offer the same degree of pressure relief. For that reason, a solid polyfoam reading pillow doesn’t double as a sleep pillow as well as those made with other materials.
  • Polyester: Also called fiber fill or microfiber, polyester pillows are soft and malleable. They don’t always hold their shape as well as foam pillows, but they tend to be more economical. For those who like a softer pillow, polyester fill is a good option. These pillows can often work as a sleep pillow, too.
  • Feather or Down: Natural feather and down are valued for their plushness. They are some of the most expensive pillow materials, and they are not suitable for vegans or those with allergies. Down alternative pillows use polyester fibers that resemble the feel of natural down but are considerably cheaper. 

Reading Pillows vs. Sleeping Pillows 

Sleeping pillows are typically rectangular, though a square shape is common in many European countries. They are generally not effective reading pillows because they flatten more readily. 

A reading pillow is designed to compress minimally beneath the back in order to align the spine when you’re seated. They also come in a wider array of shapes and styles than standard sleep pillows. 

How to Choose a Reading Pillow

You might feel overwhelmed by the range of reading pillows on the market, but you can narrow your search by focusing on top features like firmness, shape, and support. 

Sitting Position

Your sitting style can help you choose the best design for your needs. A wedge-shaped or sloped pillow is usually best when reading upright in bed. If you prefer reading on your side, a firm bolster placed between your shoulder and head can reduce head and neck strain.


Your reading position and body type can help determine your support needs. People with broader frames or who weigh over 230 pounds usually require a firmer design. Those with small frames might prefer a pillow with more give. There are also pillows with built-in neck and arm support for those who prefer extra cushioning in those areas.

Firmness Level

Like support, ideal firmness depends on your body type, reading style, and preference. Those who like to slouch a bit may prefer a softer pillow. People with back pain usually do better with a firmer model that keeps the spine aligned.  


Your comfort and support needs can help you choose the best pillow shape. People with lower back pain may benefit from a cylindrical bolster that rests behind the lumbar region or a wedge pillow with a firmer bottom portion. Those with neck strain may want a pillow with a divot that cradles the head and neck. 


If you intend to use the pillow only when sitting upright, then a pillow with armrests and a tall back is often desirable. Dual-piece or wedge pillows are more versatile and can be used for a variety of purposes. 


Reading pillows range from economical to high-end. Materials, design complexity, and brand recognition all influence pricing. A more expensive pillow isn’t necessarily better for your needs, though quality often increases with price. Knowing your budget in advance can help narrow your search. 

Quality Materials

Materials vary when it comes to their performance in areas like durability, temperature control, and pressure relief. However, a pillow made from higher-quality materials usually performs better and lasts longer. Look for materials that will hold their shape over time, like dense foam or fiber fill that’s on the firm side.


Some pillow shapes and materials are more malleable than others. Polyester and feather or down inserts are usually more pliable than dense foam. If you plan on using the pillow solely as a backrest, then you might not want a design that compresses too easily. 

Temperature Regulation

Some materials retain more heat than others. Natural fibers and polyester tend to be breathable, while foams are generally more heat-retentive. Some manufacturers use gel infusions and open-cell foam

Frequently Asked Questions

Are reading pillows good for sleeping?

Some reading pillows can easily double as sleeping pillows, but it really depends on the design and your sleep position. Since reading pillows tend to be thicker than standard pillows, they’re usually not advisable for stomach sleepers. The higher loft can elevate the upper body too much for those who sleep lying on their stomach. However, the loft may help align the spine for some back and side sleepers.

How do I use a reading pillow?

Most reading pillows are meant to be propped between your back and the wall, or between your back and the bed’s headrest. They’re designed to make sitting upright in bed more comfortable and supportive.

Are reading pillows good for your back?

A reading pillow that reinforces good spinal alignment may also help alleviate back pain and soreness.

How much do reading pillows cost?

Most reading pillows cost between $50 and $120, but there are exceptions, depending on the materials and design used.

Can I wash my reading pillow?

Some pillow inserts are machine-washable, while others should only be spot-treated. It is more common for the shell or pillowcase to be machine-washable as opposed to the insert. Always read the manufacturer’s instructions before washing your pillow.

Still have questions?

Our product experts have extensive experience testing just about every sleep product on the market.

Send an email to [email protected] with your questions and we’ll help you find exactly what you’re looking for.

Learn more about our Editorial Team