Reading ) is a large town and unitary authority area in England, located at the confluence of the River Thames and River Kennet, and on both the Great Western Main Line railway and the M4 motorway, some 40 mi west of London. For ceremonial purposes it is in the Royal County of Berkshire and has served as the county town since 1867.Reading was an important national centre in the medieval period, as the site of an important monastery with strong royal connections. Today it remains a commercial centre, with links to information technology and insurance. Reading also hosts two universities and a large student population. It is also home to one of England's biggest music festivals, Reading Festival.