When/where do you read?

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This has cropped up in conversations with various pals recently: how do you find the time/space to read fiction? Especially if you work in an office all day and live with a partner? Reading in the evening can often seem like such a selfish activity (eg compared to watching even bad film/tv together). (One of the compensating pleasures of becoming single again has been being able to guiltlessly sit down with the new Richard Powers novel and a bottle of red in the evening.)

I suppose once upon a time I used to be able to read on the tube or the bus, but - especially with anything densely written - this now seems to chop books up for me in an unsatisfactory way. (So I've started reading contemporary poetry on the tube again, which not only makes me look agreeably pseudy, but also fits perfectly with the chop/change experience of getting to work.)

And reading in the bath makes the book go fat.

A neighbour of mine uses his iPod to listen to audio books and this struck me as a pretty good idea: going for a walk across the blustery heath on a sunday afternoon while someone sonorous reads Bronte into your ear.

But anyway: where and when do you like to read?

Jerry the Nipper (Jerrynipper), Thursday, 19 February 2004 11:19 (eighteen years ago) link

On the train on the way home from work.
At night in bed.

Just finished Cannery Row by Steinbeck, currently reading Feersum Endjin by Iain. M. Banks next up The Brothers Karamazov by Dostoevsky.

Jarlr'mai (jarlrmai), Thursday, 19 February 2004 13:07 (eighteen years ago) link

Let's see...

In bed. At the table, while I'm eating. In the bathroom (of course). Anytime I'm waiting for something/someone (car to be serviced, etc).

I think "in bed" is my most favorite place to read.

Vermont Girl (Vermont Girl), Thursday, 19 February 2004 13:41 (eighteen years ago) link

On the bus on the way to and from work, and in the evenings while my better half is watching football on the telly (damn Sky Sports!)

Cathryn (Cathryn), Thursday, 19 February 2004 14:26 (eighteen years ago) link

I read on the bus, at bus stops, in the supermarket queue...wherever there is dead time.

I love reading on trains too, that repetitive thudedly thud is a great habitat for reading.

MikeyG (MikeyG), Thursday, 19 February 2004 14:40 (eighteen years ago) link

I read lying in bed, I read on the bog, I read on the sofa (TV is crap, really), and I read at my desk. Finding time to read isn't my problem; finding other stuff to do when I'm not reading (work, for instance) is.

SRH (Skrik), Thursday, 19 February 2004 14:56 (eighteen years ago) link

Yeah, I've been struggling about this. I only read in bed before going to sleep now, which lately means reading about eight pages and then falling asleep. This is NO WAY to get through the five or so books I have on deck.

Consequently, I'm really really really looking forward to the plane rides I have this weekend as a way to get hours of uninterrupted reading.

Jordan (Jordan), Thursday, 19 February 2004 15:03 (eighteen years ago) link

I have a recliner in my living room and in my library. Those are my main reading spots. Occasinally the couch. Always take a book to work in case I get time. Take a book to Dr's appointments etc.

Ike Stephenson (Ike Stephenson), Thursday, 19 February 2004 15:24 (eighteen years ago) link

Jordan: you just reminded me. My favourite recent reading experience was being on a transatlantic flight from Washington to London at the beginning of the year, while everyone else was asleep. In the vast dark rumble of the flight, the single beam of my overhead light focussed my mind (on 'Ulysses', funnily enough) wonderfully.

Jerry the Nipper (Jerrynipper), Thursday, 19 February 2004 15:24 (eighteen years ago) link

i usually read on the bus or train,and on my break from work,but i don't get nearly enough reading done...i always read a bit before i go to bed as well,and i play poker on the internet a lot,and tend the spend the first half or so of tournaments reading while keeping an eye on the screen....

robin (robin), Thursday, 19 February 2004 16:50 (eighteen years ago) link

Bus/train and actually do some reading before a gig (the gigs I go to have places where you can sit down).

Julio Desouza (jdesouza), Thursday, 19 February 2004 18:11 (eighteen years ago) link

When I worked for another program, I use to fly quite a bit. I loved it, since it meant that I could schedule my travel in such a way that delays never really bothered me as it gave me more time to read. Although I rarely bought books at airports, not being an elitest by any means, but I usually brought enough reading material with me.

Otherwise now, I read everywhere. Waiting in line to wash the car, at work between projects, on the sofa, at the kitchen table (when dining alone), in the bath (of course) and in bed. My favorite has to be this little independent coffee house around the corner from my apartment. Great fat leather chairs, good fair-trade coffee and quiet music with my books :)

yesabibliophile (yesabibliophile), Thursday, 19 February 2004 19:20 (eighteen years ago) link

When I commuted, I used to love to read on the train. I could assure myself that I'd get in at least 8 or 9 hours a week. Now, I read at night (bed--seems the most convenient and comfortable) and on the weekends (I have a wonderful chair and a half.) Hmmm, is it time to leave work yet?

-- (sallying), Thursday, 19 February 2004 19:35 (eighteen years ago) link

I read Ulysses aloud with a friend while driving cross-country. We did Schuylla and Charybdis while in Death Valley and Eumaeus at 1:15 am driving around the Mall in DC.

Atila the Honeybun (Atila the Honeybun), Thursday, 19 February 2004 22:24 (eighteen years ago) link


1. what bit of Ulysses was it that was so illuminated by your transatlantic experience?

2. I am trying to think of something to say about guiltlessness and a bottle of red, but not doing too well.

I drink too much, as you know.

3. It's a shame if you think reading seems selfish. This seems to me a piece of circumstantial evidence against... 'partners'.

the bellefox, Thursday, 19 February 2004 23:55 (eighteen years ago) link

having an hour and a half on the tube each way means that I get to read guiltlessly and at quite long length, there are times though when I've carried on reading on the walk to the house too.

chris (chris), Friday, 20 February 2004 10:39 (eighteen years ago) link

Yeah, I do that. It's an argument against lamposts.

MikeyG (MikeyG), Friday, 20 February 2004 10:41 (eighteen years ago) link

It's funny you say that, Cabbage, cos last time I walked to your house I carried on writing an imaginary Paul Morley book, which is the main reason I arrived later than I should have done.

the bellefox, Friday, 20 February 2004 16:11 (eighteen years ago) link

I read whenever and wherever I have the chance, in the bath, in line, on the bus (I take the bus rather than driving when the weather isn't too bad), in the car (passenger seat only), while eating alone, lying on the livingroom floor in front of the fireplace, and my favorite place to read newspapers and magazines is at the island in the middle of my kitchen which faces out into our back yard.

dr. b. (dr. b.), Saturday, 21 February 2004 15:23 (eighteen years ago) link

Yesterday the new issue of 'The Believer' concluded its stately progress across the Atlantic to my letter box. Among other things, it contains a very good interview with Philip Seymour Hoffman - all about reading. As if he weren't already residing in the penthouse of the towerblock of my estimation, following this interview he has moved up yet higher. He talks very well about the books and writers he likes and - just to please me further - the interview focusses on a discussion of a great George Saunders story.

Jerry the Nipper (Jerrynipper), Saturday, 21 February 2004 15:46 (eighteen years ago) link

JtN, you have still not answered my questions. But in truth I did not expect you to, and there is only one.

the spellfox, Saturday, 21 February 2004 15:58 (eighteen years ago) link

In bed,in a nice chair by a window, on planes to keep from being scared. Reading on the train sucks; I can read about five pages then have to stop midsentence. I can't ever really get into what I'm reading, or read very closely. Oh, and not ALL TV is crap: how about McLaughlin Group? Eleanor Clift rocks, and she recently wrote the ace "Founding Sisters," about the suffrage movement.

Kathleen, Saturday, 21 February 2004 20:14 (eighteen years ago) link

The no.1 place for reading evah...the Eurostar...comfy..boring views..people bringing you nibbles..

winterland, Monday, 23 February 2004 09:38 (eighteen years ago) link

Mikey.. I am with you there.. I love reading on the bus, at the bus
stops, on the train .. Especially on the bus .. even better if I am
reading Auster or Highsmith ..
Other than that I read everywhere .. and when I say everywhere I mean
it .. because if I have a good book at hand, I can't let it go ..

yesim (yesim), Monday, 23 February 2004 11:05 (eighteen years ago) link

Lucky me, I have a great beau who has no more desire to share an apt than I do... so I read on the toilet, eating breakfast, prebed cigarette, just about every meal that I don't have to work thru actually, in bed, while stretching, train of course, etc etc etc... if you're obsessive enough you find time. And screw people who think bad TV is somehow more social than what you really want to do with your head anyway! Some of my best friends-together times have been had between a coupla like-minded souls sharing best patches from different books we're reading in the same room together. It only seems weird because people don't do it anymore. Once you get used to it, it's perfectly natural -- whadya think they did before the tube, anyway? My mom's family didn't get a TV till pretty late in her childhood, so she picked up the social-reading habit and passed it on to me... ha ha, once again money is proven declassay! Boo AND ya.

Ann Sterzinger (Ann Sterzinger), Tuesday, 24 February 2004 00:10 (eighteen years ago) link

I know this doesn't exactly relate to the thread, but reading one of the above posts reminded me of my own favourite reading experiences: on a train from Beijing to Guilin (a jolly long way) something called (methinks) "Out of Pure Rage" by Geoff Dyer, about his idea for writing a bio of DH Lawrence.
I'd basically hated Beijing (one vast crowded dungeon; my ignorantly romantic notion of tooling about on a bicycle was revised by reality: like wearing a full vaccuum-cleaner bag attached to your face), and saw the train as a refuge. The experience of being able to lie on a bed, stare out of the window at the gorgeous countryside alternating with hyper-industrial sites, and read for hours was a near-religious experience. Not even reading a luke-warm attempt from Richard Ford ("Women with Men") was able to deflate the experience.

David Joyner (David Joyner), Tuesday, 24 February 2004 04:17 (eighteen years ago) link

Count me among the commuter readers, bus and subway mostly (yay MTA). The last few weeks I've been taking some computer tutorials on weekends way the hell out in Flatbush (at least, Flatbush qualifies as way-the-hell-out from Yorkville), which takes like an hour-and-a-half all told counting the transfer at Nevins St., so that's like three hours of reading time per trip. I love it. That's how I finished the last 300 pages or so of Cryptonomicon -- which I'm glad to be done with, if only because the paperback's the size and heft of a brick and it made for awkward standing-room-only reading during rush hour.

Other than that, I read in all the normal domestic reading places scattered around the apartment.

spittle (spittle), Tuesday, 24 February 2004 07:40 (eighteen years ago) link

I'll usually read on my lunch break, in the early evening or lying in bed.

I like your friends idea of putting audiobooks into his iPod. The other day I had a similar idea. I downloaded a bunch of free texts from the Gutenburg Project. I was thinking of running them through some speech synthesis software and converting the audio files to mp3s. I'm going to experiment with this later in the week and I'm wondering how long it will be before "Android Reads the Classics" becomes unbearable.

Dale the Titled (cprek), Tuesday, 24 February 2004 14:51 (eighteen years ago) link

I work at an answering service, and two nights a week I do the 10pm to 6am shift by myself, obviously not a peak time for people to be calling. I brew some coffee, throw some Tori Amos or Nina Simone on the CD player, and read to my heart's content. It's the only real "me" time I get, and I often feel disappointed when my relief shows up at 6am =)

Natalie (Penny Dreadful), Wednesday, 3 March 2004 13:42 (eighteen years ago) link

two weeks pass...
When my kids were young, I used to go out into the driveway, get into the car, roll up the windows and lock myself in. It worked pretty good, except for those tiny fingers constantly crawling up the glass, and the little noses smashed flat against the windows. Locking yourself in the bathroom wasn't as good... had those same fingers reaching under the door. And little high-pitched voices calling, "Are you in there?"

pepektheassassin (pepektheassassin), Tuesday, 23 March 2004 00:53 (eighteen years ago) link

I only once had a boyfriend who really didn't like me reading. He was a nice guy but sometimes he got so frustrated he pushed the book down while I was reading it. I'm too used to reading to really know what to do otherwise. I don't think this reading compulsion is such great shakes though, not that anyone here is claiming that it is, but I mean, it's just a pleasure like any other pleasure really, isn't it, smoking, or whatever, I think there's a psychological pleasure in the eye movement or something, because you want to relapse back into it at certain moments. I got put off the whole idea of boasting about the reading compulsion because I had a teacher (whom I considered 'posh', and didn't relate to) who said brazenly to the class, 'My husband and I are so addicted to reading, we read the back of the cereal packet if there's nothing else on the table. But we understand each other'. Big deal. Like because it's books, it's better than my parents addiction to crack ... just kidding, but you know what I mean. I don't really like the association of books with intelligence and class. I can't exactly defend that, but, ... maybe someone else can.

some sillybilly (maryann), Tuesday, 23 March 2004 08:13 (eighteen years ago) link

I read on the train, the bus (though not too much as I get sick), in the bath, in bed at night, in my lunch break. And yes, at home in the evenings selfishly ignoring my partner. But we don't have a TV. And he is often reading too. However, I still don't get through books as quickly as I used to when I was single.

Archel (Archel), Tuesday, 23 March 2004 11:58 (eighteen years ago) link

heh heh

Mikey G (Mikey G), Tuesday, 23 March 2004 12:11 (eighteen years ago) link

I find I can take more in (and read quicker) in the morning. On the way home after a hard day at work, it's sometimes a struggle. I can rarely read more than two pages in bed. Otherwise I wake up at 4am with a paperback on my face.

Mikey G (Mikey G), Tuesday, 23 March 2004 12:46 (eighteen years ago) link

I get it now. All day long I've been think MikeyG wakes up at 4am and starts reading. I realise now that he falls asleep while reading. Hrm. I get the feeling that I was the only one that didn't understand this.

Vermont Girl (Vermont Girl), Tuesday, 23 March 2004 19:09 (eighteen years ago) link

On the train, on the couch, at lunch, in bed. My idea of heaven is spending all morning in bed with my cats and my book. Then she brings me coffee. Usually, though, it's me that brings the coffee.

Michael White (Hereward), Tuesday, 23 March 2004 23:45 (eighteen years ago) link

telly is just as good but reading with partner is ok espesh if u are both being psueds secretly anyway. reading is a problem right now tho, i feel like homeless lately. ive started going to random caffs n pubses. i say random but its usually patisserie valerie... come buy me a cupcake

i shall be taking up the nipper's poetry frag thing tho, i have been doing so with pessoa's blog of disquiet already. it is fairly apposite, with added public herd scorn sprinkles

prima fassy (mwah), Wednesday, 24 March 2004 02:37 (eighteen years ago) link

I read on the couch while my husband watches sports. I read paperback mysteries in the bath. I read in my specially purchased chaise longue with the comfy pillows and the good reading light. I read in bed every night. I read on airplanes, although I avoid them if possible. I read in the car for thousands of miles as a child, but I'm the main driver in our family, so not so much now. I read when I take my lunch break. I read every day at work (library). I read in a hammock in the shade in the summer. Not bragging, not compulsive, but reading is my main hobby.

Rabin the Cat (Rabin the Cat), Wednesday, 24 March 2004 06:46 (eighteen years ago) link

In bed and in quiet hallways between classes. I'm incapable of paying attention to a book when other people are around, so coffeeshops and the like are out.

miloauckerman (miloauckerman), Wednesday, 24 March 2004 06:52 (eighteen years ago) link

see i'm incapable of paying attention to a book when i'm around

prima fassy (mwah), Wednesday, 24 March 2004 12:43 (eighteen years ago) link

Walking to/from work. You have to pick someone walking roughly the same direction but slowly, and keep their heels at the top of your peripheral vision. Myself and a friend had an idea to form a reading train system that would shadow the bus-routes. We couldn't decide whether everyone pays a quid to the person in front (who has to watch where he's going, obviously), or whether there's a timer after which the person from the front goes to the back (or vice versa).

Andrew Farrell (afarrell), Wednesday, 24 March 2004 14:26 (eighteen years ago) link

Andrew, I'd love to know who this 'friend' is, since hardly any of the people I know can negotiate a pathway even without a book in their hands.

I read everywhere. In a bed, on a chair, in the bath or on the stair. I read everywhere. And bloke and I read on the sofa in the evenings too. I don't think any hobby can be considered antisocial if the person whose society you enjoy most is doing it too.

accentmonkey (accentmonkey), Wednesday, 24 March 2004 14:48 (eighteen years ago) link

D. Harvey, lady of enthusiasms.

Also, you twee get.

Andrew Farrell (afarrell), Wednesday, 24 March 2004 15:04 (eighteen years ago) link

i prefer to read while walking because the added energy i spend making sure i don't trip keeps the part of my mind that isn't concentrated on the book from getting distracted.

also, it's easier and doesn't slow you down as much as doing the crossword.

aneesa d, Wednesday, 24 March 2004 20:20 (eighteen years ago) link

I just bumped into Andrew, on a pedestrian crossing in Islington. He wasn't reading.

Jerry the Nipper (Jerrynipper), Wednesday, 24 March 2004 22:31 (eighteen years ago) link

On walking and reading:

What a brilliant idea. They could make a special lane along one side of a sidewalk (like a bike path or car-pool lane). The paint marking the width should be wide enough so that the reader can see it out of the corner of his/her eyes (thereby, not straying from the path). Occationally, there could be spots of different color paint along the edge, marking a right/left turn coming up.

The main problem I envision is people laying down sticks and things in the path, waiting for a walking-reader to trip. Which would be funny.

Vermont Girl (Vermont Girl), Thursday, 25 March 2004 12:37 (eighteen years ago) link

five years pass...

where do you read?

cozwn, Tuesday, 25 August 2009 12:26 (twelve years ago) link

I work part-time and study part-time so theoretically I finish work at 1pm and come to the university library or postgraduate suite and get a good four or five hours reading done before home. In reality, I get a good three or four hours of ILXing done and then squeeze in ten pages.

Also I read in bed, where there is no ILX to be found, but plenty of "shit why am I tired after reading two pages".

Akon/Family (Merdeyeux), Tuesday, 25 August 2009 14:21 (twelve years ago) link

Typically, I read after dinner, lying on the couch.

Aimless, Tuesday, 25 August 2009 17:52 (twelve years ago) link

I read during my bus commutes to and from work, if it's overcast (flickering sun = carsick+headache) and I've got a front-facing seat (most days), during lunch at my desk (reading material propped up on the phone cord for the best angle), and I read or am read to after dinner most evenings in an ikea chair with feet up on an ottoman.

Jaq, Tuesday, 25 August 2009 18:23 (twelve years ago) link

Everywhere. Bus, train, desk, on lines, in bed, on the fire escape while I smoke. Motion doesn't bother, noise doesn't distract.

these days, mostly at home (since i'm at home all the time anyways), mostly in the evening. when i have a break from school, i can do some reading in the afternoon, but now that i'm back in session, i have to spend that time on school reading (which doesn't count). i have to read at least a little bit right before i go to sleep at night, it helps my brain relax.

congratulations (n/a), Tuesday, 25 August 2009 18:31 (twelve years ago) link

Mostly in my kitchen, in the hour or two before everyone wakes up (am currently on a great schedule!).

A severe accident, perhaps a dinosaur tragedy (CharlieS), Tuesday, 25 August 2009 21:51 (twelve years ago) link

On the bus, at work during lunch break, in bed, all the time when nobody else is round (and since I work part-time, this is a couple of days a week).

When two tribes go to war, he always gets picked last (James Morrison), Wednesday, 26 August 2009 00:25 (twelve years ago) link

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