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September 7, 2010 12:52 PM   Subscribe

Sitting, lying or standing: what's the pole position for reading? Both the Guardian and Abebooks want to know? AbeBooks wonders if it's weird to read lying on your stomach?
posted by Fizz (58 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
I can't lie on my stomach any more (back problems prevent it) but when I could, it was my preferred reading position.
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 12:53 PM on September 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


Overthinking the state of leans.
posted by 2bucksplus at 12:54 PM on September 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


Missionary
posted by mcstayinskool at 12:57 PM on September 7, 2010


And of course there's the Kama Sutra of Reading.
posted by Fizz at 12:57 PM on September 7, 2010


I used to read lying on my stomach at the foot of my bed, with the book on the floor. I used to read lying on my stomach for so long at a time that when I got up, my ribs hurt.
posted by Mister Moofoo at 1:00 PM on September 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


On the throne.
posted by Brodiggitty at 1:04 PM on September 7, 2010 [4 favorites]


Lying on my stomach is also my preferred position, but I can only do it for a small amount of time as I constantly have neck pain and that position just doesn't help.

Usually I just read sitting/lying on the bed with a couple of pillows behind my back.
posted by CrazyLemonade at 1:05 PM on September 7, 2010


In the bathtub.
posted by The Whelk at 1:08 PM on September 7, 2010 [3 favorites]


I wonder how the advent of the e-reader has changed the positions of how people read.
posted by Fizz at 1:09 PM on September 7, 2010


I like lying on my stomach (technically known as the ventral position, compare to lying on your back, known as the dorsal position) but I would never want to read while propping myself up on my elbows. I have considered constructing a stand that would support my forehead while leaving my eyes unobstructed for reading, but I haven't gone to the trouble. Hence, I usually read either sitting up, or in the dorsal position.
posted by grizzled at 1:10 PM on September 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


On my stomach, for me too.
posted by drezdn at 1:10 PM on September 7, 2010


Laying on the couch, head propped up on sofa pillow, iPad held aloft to keep the cat on my chest from blocking the screen.
posted by Joe Beese at 1:11 PM on September 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


When I read on my stomach, I either get neck pain or this weird pain under my tongue. Now I read on my side. I've perfected the art of the one-hand page-turn.

Fizz: "I wonder how the advent of the e-reader has changed the positions of how people read."

They read like this.
posted by specialagentwebb at 1:11 PM on September 7, 2010


Hmm, I applaud his home-engineering skills in creating that steel-hanger Kindle-stand, but a book is so much easier to fall asleep on and not nearly as expensive if damaged.
posted by Fizz at 1:16 PM on September 7, 2010


I'm all over the place when I read. On my stomach, then on my side, then on my back, then back to my stomach. So I guess my position is "rolling".
posted by DrGirlfriend at 1:19 PM on September 7, 2010 [11 favorites]


I, too, am a stomach reader. Our numbers are vast, my brethren...
posted by kaseijin at 1:20 PM on September 7, 2010


I read on my stomach with a pillow under my arms and the book against the headboard. It's hell on the wrists - but I just can't stop.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 1:20 PM on September 7, 2010


I can't read lying down (back, side; on bed, couch, blanket outside) for more than about ten minutes before falling asleep. So I usually try to read sitting up.
posted by carter at 1:21 PM on September 7, 2010


Holding books? In bed? Jesus. I just have one of the servants read to me.
posted by everichon at 1:22 PM on September 7, 2010 [5 favorites]


I used to lay down on my stomach to read, or alternating sides as each arm gets tired holding the book on its side. For heavier texts that need more thorough note taking I usually slouched over a desk. Needless to say, my back got quite irritated after a few hours of this. But since making a habit of hitting the gym, I've re-discovered simply leaning back in a good lounge chair and simply holding the book. If I need to take notes, just a pad of paper on my lap. Now I recommend resistance training to all my bookish friends.

This advice is void when reading textbooks or those big floppy unwieldy texts, you know which ones I'm talking about, they don't even rest in a book stand well either.
posted by TwelveTwo at 1:22 PM on September 7, 2010


Usually some sort of horizontal on my bed (indeed, rolling around). But if I had the means the bed would be made of money.
posted by Green With You at 1:34 PM on September 7, 2010


Corner of the couch with my feet under me or on the floor against the wall. I like my legs in the same plane as my butt.
posted by mollymayhem at 1:34 PM on September 7, 2010


On the throne.
We had a little 5.x earthquake up here in Ottawa a few months ago.

I must confess, it was mildly disconcerting. My "stop-drop-and-roll" earthquake awareness training from my SoCal youth kicked in and I and attempted to hide under the toilet.

Since that didn't work, I leapt for the doorway, and then pulled my shorts up. The shaking was soon over, my wife and I scurried out of the house into the street, and we confirmed with our neighbors that, yes, it was probably an earthquake just now.

I then zipped up my fly and wandered back into my house to get back to my book.

----------------------------------

I have changed my reading habits: I now read ebooks in the bath, when I'm not using the ebook reader to press flowers.
posted by sebastienbailard at 1:35 PM on September 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


I wonder how the advent of the e-reader has changed the positions of how people read.

Normally when I read in bed I'm reclining against the headboard and some pillows, but with my Kindle I've gotten more comfortable laying on my side and holding it in one hand, covers pulled up over my exposed shoulder. Nice and toasty. Not to say that I couldn't lay like that with a turn-the-pages book, but it's just more comfortable without one.

Otherwise, I'm usually curled up in a corner of the couch, feet up beside me, book (or Kindle) in my lap.
posted by alynnk at 1:35 PM on September 7, 2010


I like to read by placing the book on the edge of my bed, then kneeling on the floor by the bed, leaning on my elbows, which are on the bed, with my hands wrapped around my throat. I appreciate that this might be just me though.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 1:36 PM on September 7, 2010


How else would I tan my back?
posted by lordrunningclam at 1:38 PM on September 7, 2010


I can't lie on my stomach any more (back problems prevent it) but when I could, it was my preferred reading position.

I shouldn't lie on my stomach any more (back problems also), but almost every night I flop down, prop myself up on my elbows, and read myself to sleep.

A few times a week The Fella, who is even more of a night owl than I am, comes into the bedroom to find me facedown in the pillow, book splayed open next to me, glasses pushed off to prevent them mashing into my face. He gently removes them, tucks an earpiece into my book to keep my place, and puts them on a shelf for me. Sometimes I'm out pretty solidly; sometimes I'm alert enough to mumble "Would you put my things?" The unembellished verb "to put" has acquired this specific meaning in our household: to take the items from a sleepy or sleeping person and stash them safely for the morning.

I'm not sure I understand the idea of a favorite reading position, though; it depends on my circumstances and what I'm reading. I read sitting or standing on the bus, or standing in line at the post office; I read sitting in the park; I read in lying or sitting or lounging bed and on the sofa; I read sitting up in the library; I read lying down in the bathtub.

But I rarely read for pleasure in the library, as I rarely read research materials in the bathtub, and so on. My preferred position varies as much as my reading materials and motivations.
posted by Elsa at 1:40 PM on September 7, 2010 [5 favorites]


I wonder how the advent of the e-reader has changed the positions of how people read.
I find I read sitting up more with the ereader or a hardcover than I do with a paperback book. They're both a little too tall to read comfortably from the lying on my stomach position, unlike a paperback.
posted by sfred at 1:42 PM on September 7, 2010


On my back, in bed or on a couch. The iPad is a little heavy for prolonged reading, the Rocket eBook (sad and dusty but still functional) was just about perfect, but now that I've got an iPhone 4 with it's teeny high resolution screen, I can take off my glasses and read with it right in front of my eyes and get no pain at all. (Years ago it was paperbacks, but still always on my back.)
posted by seanmpuckett at 2:04 PM on September 7, 2010


Now I mostly read sitting on the train (the only benefit of a long commute on SEPTA) or while walking around the city. I used to read while lying on my side, holding the book in my right hand with my left elbow on the bed/couch/floor and my left hand supporting my head. Then, my left hand started to go numb. After a year or so I went to the doctor and found out that doing that can stretch out your ulnar nerve, so I don't read like that anymore.
posted by qldaddy at 2:11 PM on September 7, 2010


Sitting on a barstool, book on the bar, beer at my right hand, rye at my left.
posted by dersins at 2:12 PM on September 7, 2010 [4 favorites]


writes one employee on the company's Reading Copy book blog

Beth, probably.

Me, I only read comfortably on the couch, sitting up, legs out. Any other lying or sitting position and my back hurts or my limbs fall asleep.
posted by ten pounds of inedita at 2:44 PM on September 7, 2010


I almost always read in the subway, standing up -- book in one hand, subway pole in the other. In bed, I change position every five minutes or so, which annoys the cats.
posted by Greg Nog at 2:53 PM on September 7, 2010


Sitting on a barstool, book on the bar, beer at my right hand, rye at my left.

I cannot favorite this hard enough.
posted by mollymayhem at 3:18 PM on September 7, 2010


I have this amazing thing I've worked out with my iPad where I lean it up against a tissue box on the edge of my bedframe so it's diagonal (with the Apple case wide end on the bottom so it's perfectly supported. It's the perfect sleeping position and I just have to tap it to turn the page. I wish I had documentation of how good it is because it is PERFECT.
posted by Brainy at 3:54 PM on September 7, 2010


In a safe place, my default reading/writing/drawing position is on my stomach. In the larger world, I don't mind sitting sideways on a couch, back up against the armrest, stockinged feet up on the sofa. The knees hold the book up and it works pretty well. A woolen blanket is still recommended, if possible.
posted by redsparkler at 4:08 PM on September 7, 2010


1. "Pole position" doesn't make any sense in that context.
2. That's not how question marks work.
posted by Sys Rq at 4:16 PM on September 7, 2010


On a recent visit to Paris I came across several people who were reading a novel while walking down the street. It looks very cool in a nonchalant way. I am not sure how long they typically survive.
posted by rongorongo at 4:22 PM on September 7, 2010


On a recent visit to Paris I came across several people who were reading a novel while walking down the street. It looks very cool in a nonchalant way. I am not sure how long they typically survive.

If you know your route well and tend to walk the same time every day, you'd be surprised how easy it is to get in this habit. Did it as a kid walking home from school. Once, to show off, walking *backwards*. But that gave me a headache.

Other possibly unwise reading positions: while stopped at a redlight and looking over at a book on the passenger seat; while curling my hair w/ book flat on the bathroom counter; while cooking dinner.

Hello, I am emjaybee and I'm addicted to reading.

When actually reading while doing nothing else, I like my couch with the book on a cushion while I lay on my side.

As a kid I sometimes favored the "praying" position of kneeling next to my bed and leaning on it while the book lay flat on top. My old knees won't do this anymore.
posted by emjaybee at 4:33 PM on September 7, 2010 [5 favorites]


If you know your route well and tend to walk the same time every day, you'd be surprised how easy it is to get in this habit. Did it as a kid walking home from school. Once, to show off, walking *backwards*. But that gave me a headache.

In High School i got into reading in between classes, while walking from class to class. It became a Thing. These days I can go from subway to station to house to elevator without my eyes leaving the book.
posted by The Whelk at 4:36 PM on September 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


I read in any position. I'm really open minded that way.
posted by oddman at 4:37 PM on September 7, 2010


In High School i got into reading in between classes, while walking from class to class. It became a Thing. These days I can go from subway to station to house to elevator without my eyes leaving the book.

As impressive as this sounds, do you not worry about being hit by a car or a bus or someone else who is not paying attention?
posted by Fizz at 4:40 PM on September 7, 2010


As impressive as this sounds, do you not worry about being hit by a car or a bus or someone else who is not paying attention?


In life we all take risks.
posted by The Whelk at 4:41 PM on September 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


The multitasking reading: sitting on the sofa, holding my knitting on my lab, the book propped on the sofa arm, and listening to the TV.

The dedicated reading: propped up in bed.
posted by francesca too at 5:15 PM on September 7, 2010


Please don't rest your knitting on your labrador retriever. That is so cruel. Buy a table.
posted by Sys Rq at 6:32 PM on September 7, 2010 [3 favorites]


I lie on my right side and hold the book with my right hand when I first begin, and then as I get about halfway through I switch to my left side and left hand, because the bulk of the pages now fit there better.

I am very strongly considering buying a Kindle or perhaps some cheap substitute to prevent this from being necessary.
posted by Clamwacker at 7:35 PM on September 7, 2010


I really cannot thing of many positions or situations in which I haven't read. Eating, walking, driving, standing, "rolling" in bed.... I have what they call A Problem.
posted by thebrokedown at 8:35 PM on September 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


I do 99% of my (non-computer) reading in the bathroom, either on the terlit or in the tub ("Phoebe the prune," my mom used to call me). Whenever I try to read in bed lately, I just fall asleep with the book on my chest.

Back in the day, I totally used to read in bed on my stomach, with a flashlight and the covers pulled up over my head, for so long that my arms would go all pins and needles.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:59 PM on September 7, 2010


I read that as "shitting, lying or standing". Regardless, the answer is still (a).

That, and the tub. Nothing beats a warm tub and my ziploc'd Kindle.
posted by cgg at 10:15 PM on September 7, 2010


Preferred position: stretched out in a hot tub. Most common position: on my stomach on the bed with a pillow stuffed under my stomach. Most common e-reader position: sitting on whatever is available wherever I happen to be killing time waiting for something or other (my e-reader is my phone).

Somehow or other the designated reading chair (a beautiful wingback with a lamp on the right side) always has a pile of clean laundry or a cat or both in it, but when it doesn't it's quite comfortable.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 10:52 PM on September 7, 2010


On the subject of walking and reading- I was constantly pulled up for this as a child; reading while walking to/from school. However I was right to persevere, as those without the practice of reading while avoiding dog turds, cars, dogs etc. from a young age are now having to learn it in adulthood as they check/reply to their text messages and it seems a harder thing to learn when you're older.
posted by Gratishades at 12:36 AM on September 8, 2010


On a recent visit to Paris I came across several people who were reading a novel while walking down the street. It looks very cool in a nonchalant way. I am not sure how long they typically survive.
...
As impressive as this sounds, do you not worry about being hit by a car or a bus or someone else who is not paying attention?


Hi! While I have not read a novel while walking down the street in Paris, that's only because I've never been to Paris. Given my experiences in a variety of other major American and European cities, however, my responses to these observations are as follows:

-I have no idea how I survive either.
-However, it's not so much the cars and buses that are the problem - I pay some attention to the presence and/or lack of large moving things, loud noises, and curbs. When I get close to a street, I glance up, see what's going on, and pay more attention until I'm safely across the road. Street signs, telephone poles, and cracked sidewalks, however, are continual hazards when I'm safely on the sidewalk but on an unfamiliar route. It's hard to maintain a look of cool nonchalance when I walk into a street sign.

Pretty much, like thebrokendown, I am having trouble thinking of positions and situations in which I haven't read, and even more trouble thinking of situations in which I did not have a book on hand, just in case. I am never bored.
posted by ubersturm at 12:40 AM on September 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


Preferred? In a hammock, facing the sky and treetops, book held above me, the breeze bringing wisps of campfire smoke my way.

The usual? Either on my back or on my side in bed, depending on what I can accomplish with the dog wedged into any available nook or cranny.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 6:41 AM on September 8, 2010


I read while walking, constantly. Have run into low tree branches a couple times as an adult, and once in junior high I ran smack into a metal pole with my forehead. That hurt. Amazingly no one was looking. Since then I've gotten much better at navigating.

I walk through crowds in downtown NYC, reading. I'm pretty good at judging whether anyone's near. I'm reading at low efficiency in this situation; a phrase at a time, with a lot of pauses. The only rare times I come close to running into other people are when really inattentive walkers (shoving through crowds, or darting around while looking backwards) lurch into my field of vision. In those circumstances I'm usually able to dodge successfully while lowering the book or magazine furtively (since most people would assume the nerd reading & walking is to blame for a crowd collision).

I always always stop reading while crossing the street though, and look both ways. Making book-addict me a safer pedestrian than all the folks I have to dodge when bicycling, who weave down the center of the street, back towards oncoming traffic, wearing headphones.

Things I've tried, that have turned out to not be good ideas: reading while showering; reading while bicycling; reading while walking and carrying three cups of coffee (one balanced on top of another); reading while making out with someone.

Reading in a bar is great. A tall pint of good beer, a not-too-dark afternoon indoors, and some Dickens, is paradise.

Lying on one's back in a field of grass, holding the book up against the sky on a sunny day, isn't bad either.

In bed, the challenge is always, how to keep the cats off the damn pages. Those beasts have a real need to dominate any open book.
posted by Erroneous at 8:27 AM on September 8, 2010 [3 favorites]


On a recent visit to Paris I came across several people who were reading a novel while walking down the street. It looks very cool in a nonchalant way. I am not sure how long they typically survive.

I used to do this, on the winding inner residential streets of my Chicago neighborhood and on the main streets of my small New England city. It's really not hard, because most fluent readers don't need their eyes on the page every second --- my eyes would flick up to check the route (for traffic, for other pedestrians, for obstacles, whatever) and flick back down to the page with no interruption in my reading.

The day that I was struck by a car, I wasn't reading: I was paying close attention to the traffic and even made eye contact with the driver... who later admitted she'd never even seen me because she was looking at the parking space directly behind me. It's really not the pedestrians who are a great danger, but the drivers.
posted by Elsa at 11:56 AM on September 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


Reading in a bar is great. A tall pint of good beer, a not-too-dark afternoon indoors, and some Dickens, is paradise.

I agree that when you can do it uninterrupted, it's a delight, but for a lot of women it's hard --- even at my age --- to keep men from thinking that a woman alone (and happily occupied) is a target for flirting. A pleasant "I'm just trying to enjoy my book" doesn't go over as well as you'd think.
posted by Elsa at 11:58 AM on September 8, 2010


I wonder how the advent of the e-reader has changed the positions of how people read.

I'm much more of a on-my-side reader now that I have a nook. It's easy because you don't have to adjust your whole body just to turn the page.
posted by morganannie at 12:16 PM on September 8, 2010


I haven't read a great deal in bed until I got my new Kindle, which lovingly allows me to read on my side and change pages without having to move essentially! One-handed, even!

Such a simple innovation of making a book manageable with one hand, it didn't even really occur to me when buying the Kindle. But I love it so.
posted by disillusioned at 11:42 PM on September 8, 2010


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