Cynthia Kuhn

Variations on Reading

Most of the readers I know don’t just “enjoy” reading—we love it. Must read. Can’t imagine a day without it. With this in common, it’s very interesting to consider how differently we all do the same thing.

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Some favor routine: a favorite time and location, perhaps with a desirable beverage. And many people are fond of reading in bed, snuggled under a cozy blanket with a book to send you gently off to dreamland. (Or, if you’re like me—routinely jarred awake when the book falls onto your face—not so gently.)

Others can read anywhere: on a crowded subway, at a loud restaurant, halfway up a mountain. Have book, will travel. These days, with reading apps and audio books on our phones, it’s almost impossible not to have something to read in your pocket at all times. Remembering to bring your reading glasses is the hard part.

Some wish to talk about the book they are reading as they read it. They want to delve into their reactions, share their blossoming thoughts, compare notes. Here’s wishing them enthusiastic listeners galore.

Others want to make it to the very last page before hearing a single word from anyone; they prefer to process the experience at a pace of their choosing before speaking to a soul about it. Prepare to be shushed if you even inquire.

Some absolutely must have a brand-new book. They savor the muted crack of the spine being opened for the first time, the smell of the printing, the pristine pages. It’s like an undiscovered country: no footprints allowed.

Others are fine with a book that’s been circulated before, perhaps even welcoming signs of previous readers such as intriguing margin notes or dog-eared pages. Sometimes little treasures are left behind: love letters, enigmatic receipts, amusing to-do lists, curious pictures. (Once I found a band-aid. That was not a treasure.)

As for me, I have two primary modes. For work: sitting up, pen poised for annotation, responding analytically. Goes on as long as it has to. For fun: lying down, no pen in sight, flipping pages joyfully. Goes on until the book falls on my face (see above).

Obviously, there are a zillion ways to read—as many as there are readers—and all of them are fabulous!

How about you? What are your reading habits?

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26 thoughts on “Variations on Reading

  1. I read anywhere and everywhere. I read waiting in line at the grocery store, I read in bed, I read when I eat, I read when it’s slow at work (at the library), I read while watching TV. If I’m awake, I have a book with me. 🙂 The only place I can’t read is in the car. 😦

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  2. For one thing, I read a few books at a time. One reason is when I come to a “bad” event (someone gets hurt) I can go to a different book. When I return to the first book, it’s not as difficult for me because I’ve been desensitized, having already seen the “bad part. (Can you believe I write murder mysteries??) Also, I like the variety of reading different genres. And so I read in my office, in bed, and in the kitchen.

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  3. Cynthia, I’ve never been one to read in bed — but thanks for the warning about the hazards! I like to read in my favorite chair with a cup of coffee nearby. I like to finish books I’m really enjoying in one or two sittings. And I binge read on breaks between manuscripts!

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  4. I have a bad habit of eating while reading (and vice versa), so snacks and beverages are necessary. Food and books are my two favorite things, and for some reason I need to enjoy them together.

    I’m super lame and get motion sickness, so I can’t read on the train or in the car. Which is a shame, considering how much time I spent on the CTA commuting. I prefer to read splayed out on the couch with my dogs, or lying in bed with a million pillows ^^

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    • Mia, the reading/eating combo is like watching a movie and having popcorn. I get it. That would be cool if you could read on the commute, but your reading locations sound pretty wonderful as is. 🙂

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  5. I read everywhere, doing everything. Eating, commercials, writing breaks, laying in bed, commuting, on the phone with my sister (she never lets me talk), cooking, cleaning, walking the treadmill.
    I’ve been know to read while my computer is opening files at work. Just don’t tell my boss.
    I like both paper and electronic. The fun with the kindle is trying to guess why someone highlighted a sentence.

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  6. Ha ha! You read while you’re talking on the phone, Hestia? That’s great and quite a gift.

    And re: the highlighted Kindle sentences, I start to wonder too whenever I run across an underlined sentence in a used book…

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  7. I’m with Hestia Athena! I’ll read anywhere, anytime. I’m a read-aholic. Have been since I was a kid. I have a scar in my forehead from where I walked into a tree because I was walking and reading at the same time.

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  8. Great post, Cynthia! You could probably make the rhymes in Green Eggs and Ham work for my reading habits–except changed to positive, of course: I WILL read them on a train, I WILL read them in the rain…(scratch the “with a fox”). I love to read pool, beach or lakeside, or on a rainy day in a home or actual library. I’ve started reading on my phone every night before bed as well, even for a short time, to keep up with the TBR queue!

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  9. I read on my lunch hour. I sit in the passenger seat of my car, lean my seat back some and read. I’ll doze off for about 15 minutes, then it’s back to reading and back to work. I also read on my breaks.

    I’m also a read in bed until I fall asleep. And on nights when I’m having trouble falling asleep, I pull my book back out and read until I am out. Usually, I’m on my side for this, so I don’t hit myself in the nose with the book. I have awakened the next morning to find my finger in my book and the light still on.

    And I will read anywhere. Usually not in line at the store, but I do have a book with me and if I can get a few pages in, I will. I’ve gone to Disneyland by myself and read in line there. You can get most of a book read while standing in line if you are there all day.

    I will even read in my car while driving. If they didn’t want me to read in my car, they shouldn’t have invented audio books. (Oh, you thought I meant reading the pages in a book?)

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    • Funny man! Is that why you do so many reviews? Cause you read in the car? And I believe you read books in the car. I’ve seen people do weird stuff in the car. Weirdest? Eating a salad while driving.
      And yes, as a fellow accountant, I get it. Words have to replace numbers sometimes. Even though numbers are fascinating!

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  10. The bath is my happy place so I read in the tub. This is why I could never go full e-book reader. (I would drop it in the water in a second.) Since I do commute, I tend to read my Kindle on the train/subway.

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  11. I read everywhere, Cynthia—if I’m waiting at a doctor’s appointment for my eye exam (as I did yesterday), if I’m having a meal by myself (many lunches in the office), even sometimes at long stoplights (and yes, I do read on the phone as well). Still I feel like I can’t keep up with all the great books and stories out there (and essays and articles and blog posts and….)

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    • Such a great point, Art–no matter how much we read, there’s always more. (Which is a wonderful thing…even if my TBR list sometimes seems overwhelming, it’s also reassuring that there are so many good books waiting there for us.)

      Sometimes when I read on my phone for a long time, I get double vision, so I’m trying not to do that because it’s too freaky. 😉

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  12. I read everywhere except in the car. I either have my book, my Kindle or my phone so if I have to kill time somewhere, I’m always prepared.

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