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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.

Product Details

Best Overall

Casper Backrest Pillow

Brand Logo




Polyfoam and polyester fiber fill core with polyester fiber outer chamber


Medium Firm
  • Who it’s best for:

    1. Readers who tend to slouch
    2. Back sleepers and side sleepers under 230 pounds
    3. Shoppers who prioritize easy cleaning
  • Highlights:

    1. Dual-chamber design combines cushioning with support
    2. A balanced medium firm feel
    3. 30-night sleep trial

Sleep Foundation Special Offer

Use this SleepFoundation.org link for the most current discount on Casper pillows

Bottom Line

The Casper Backrest Pillow is a dual-chamber wedge that makes lounging in bed more comfortable. A soft fiber-fill chamber cushions the neck and shoulders, while an inner foam chamber provides lumbar support. The design holds up well to weight and pressure, and it also works well as a sleeping pillow for back and side sleepers.

Why It’s Best Overall

Unlike standard pillows, the Casper Backrest Pillow resists sagging when used as a reading pillow. It also provides good knee support when the sleeper is lying down. We were impressed with the pillow’s versatility, shape retention, and ease of cleaning. 

How It Performed

The sloped design of the Casper Backrest Pillow made it easy for our testers to sit upright. The outer fiber layer provides cushioning and relieves neck tension, while the inner foam layer supports the lower back. We also found the knit cover to be soft and breathable. 

The pillow’s medium firm feel makes it a supportive pillow for back sleeping, and it may be a good fit for those who experience acid reflux or snoring. The wedge shape also suited our side sleepers under 230 pounds. They liked not having to fold or reshape the pillow to achieve a desirable loft. 

Additionally, we found that this pillow helps align the spine when used under the knees while lying down. 

What It’s Made Of

The outer chamber consists of soft polyester fiber. The firm inner chamber is 80% polyfoam and 20% polyester fiber. This gives the pillow structure to support the lumbar region.

The zippered knit cover is a soft blend of polyester and spandex. A polyester mesh lining encases the inner components and adds some breathability. The removable cover can be washed on a gentle machine cycle using cold water. The inner pillow may be spot-treated as needed.

The pillow comes in one size. Its loft is 2 inches at the bottom, gradually increasing to 5 inches at the top. 

Shoppers can purchase the Casper Backrest Pillow through Casper’s website, Amazon, and select third-party retailers. Casper offers free shipping and returns to the contiguous U.S. and Canada. The pillow is backed by a 30-night sleep trial.

product image of the Contour Flip Pillow

Best Value

Contour Flip Pillow

Brand Logo


$60 – $80


Fiber Fill


  • Who it’s best for

    1. Value seekers
    2. Those who like a softer pillow
    3. Side and back sleepers
  • Highlights

    1. Breathable 100% cotton cover
    2. Accommodates ten support positions
    3. Available in standard and king sizes

Sleep Foundation Special Offer

Use this SleepFoundation.org link for the most current discount on Contour pillows

Bottom Line

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.

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.

Product page photo of The Company Store's Essentials Feather and Down Wedge Pillow.

Best Luxury

The Company Store Essentials Feather and Down Wedge Pillow

Brand Logo


$78 – $94


95% feather 5% down


  • Who it’s best for:

    1. Those who prefer natural materials
    2. Shoppers looking for a generous return policy
    3. People who prioritize easy cleaning
  • Highlights:

    1. Responsibly sourced down and feather fill
    2. Provides support in a variety of positions
    3. Machine-washable

Sleep Foundation Special Offer

Use this SleepFoundation.org link for the most current discount on The Company Store pillows

Bottom Line

The Company Essentials Reading Wedge Pillow Insert has an easily moldable feather and down fill. The pillow feels exceptionally plush while still providing good support, and the fact that it can be machine-washed is also a strong selling point.

The Feather and Down Reading Wedge Pillow Insert by the Company Store is made from a soft blend of natural down and feathers inside of a smooth cotton shell. The pillow comes in two sizes and is machine-washable. 

How It Performed

Feather and down pillows can feel luxurious, but they also tend to flatten over time. However, we found that the Reading Wedge Pillow holds its shape remarkably well. It is primarily filled with feathers, which hold their shape better than down. It didn’t compress excessively during testing, which kept our testers feeling supported. It also performed well as a conventional sleeping pillow for our side and back sleepers. 

What It’s Made Of

The insert is a blend of 95% natural feathers and 5% natural down. Responsible Down Standard (RDS) certification indicates that the down and feathers are ethically sourced. The cotton shell has also been tested for and found free of many common contaminants by the OEKO-TEX Standard. 

The manufacturer recommends washing the Feather and Down Reading Wedge Pillow on a gentle cycle with cold water and mild detergent. The pillow can be fluffed in the dryer on low, but you will want to check and make sure the feathers get completely dry.

The Company Store ships the pillow for free to the contiguous U.S. Pillows can be returned for a full refund within 90 days.

Product image of the Brentwood Home Oceano Wedge Pillow

Most Comfortable

Brentwood Home Oceano Wedge Pillow

Brand Logo




1.5″ gel memory foam 8.5″ polyfoam


  • Who it’s best for

    1. Those seeking a sturdy backrest with minimal compression
    2. Hot sleepers
    3. Back sleepers and side sleepers over 130 pounds
  • Highlights

    1. Sloped design for targeted back support
    2. entilated open-cell foam core
    3. Breathable Tencel cover

Sleep Foundation Special Offer

Use this SleepFoundation.org link for the most current discount on Brentwood Home pillows

Bottom Line

We liked the Brentwood Home Oceano Wedge Pillow for its stable support and breathability. A layer of memory foam cradles the head and shoulders, while sturdy polyfoam resists sagging. Its breathable Tencel cover may also appeal to those who tend to sleep hot.

The Brentwood Home Oceano Wedge Pillow is designed to alleviate tension without trapping heat. Its interior combines pressure-relieving memory foam with dense polyfoam. Gel infusions and open-cell memory foam are designed to dissipate heat. The airy Tencel cover also helps regulate surface temperature. 

How It Performed

Our testers were impressed with the Oceano Wedge Pillow’s blend of pressure relief and support. The memory foam cushioned the neck and shoulders, while dense polyfoam supported the lower back. This combination reinforced good seated posture without strain or effort. 

When used as a sleeping pillow, the Ocean Wedge Pillow did a good job of both providing support and relieving tension for our back and side sleepers, particularly those over 130 pounds. Back sleepers weighing under 230 pounds especially appreciated the way the pillow’s slope encouraged good spinal alignment.

What It’s Made Of

The pillow’s interior combines 1.5 inches of gel-infused memory foam with 8.5 inches of polyfoam. The memory foam incorporates BioFoam, which is made from plant-based materials. The Tencel cover is also derived from plants. 

The pillow comes in one size that is 24 inches wide and 10 inches thick. It has a medium firmness level.

CertiPUR-US and GREENGUARD Gold certifications show that the pillow meets strict standards for material safety and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) emissions. The pillow is also certified vegan and Climate Neutral. The pillow isn’t machine-washable, but it can be spot-treated with a damp cloth. 

The Brentwood Home Oceano Wedge Pillow is available through the company’s website. Brentwood Home offers free FedEx shipping to the contiguous U.S. The pillow includes a 30-day return policy and a 1-year warranty. Replacement covers are sold separately.

Product image of the Sleep Number Rest & Read Pillow

Best Back Support

Sleep Number Rest & Read Pillow

Brand Logo




Down alternative, memory foam, polyester fiber


  • Who it’s best for

    1. Those who want a reading pillow that conforms to the shoulders
    2. Shoppers who prioritize ease of care
    3. People with back pain
  • Highlights

    1. Machine-washable cover
    2. A soft upper section and firm lower section blend cushioning with support
    3. Compatible with Euro pillow covers

Sleep Foundation Special Offer

Use this SleepFoundation.org link for the most current discount on Sleep Number pillows

Bottom Line

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.

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.

Sharper Image 10-in-1 Flip Pillow

Most Versatile

Sharper Image 10-in-1 Flip Pillow

Brand Logo


$50 – $80




  • Who it’s best for:

    1. Sleepers with joint and muscle pain
    2. Hot sleepers
    3. Combination sleepers
  • Highlights:

    1. Multipurpose design
    2. Soft and malleable polyester fill
    3. Available in two sizes

Sleep Foundation Special Offer

Use this SleepFoundation.org link for the most current discount on Sharper Image pillows

Bottom Line

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.

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.

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] or call us at (877) 672-8966 with your questions and we’ll help you find exactly what you’re looking for.

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