Expand Your Reading Prowess!

I think kids should learn to enjoy all kinds of books.  When I was homeschooling, library days were exploration days, when I told the kids check out books from each hundred-degree variation of the Dewey decimal system.  Not all in one day, of course, but over the course of a year or semester they’d be browsing the stacks of pure science (600’s), arts and crafts (7oo’s–and p.s., that’s where the comic books are!), philosophy (100’s), history (900’s), until they’d covered them all.

But that’s not what I’m talking about in this post.

nontrad.reading1I’m talking about what you read, but how and where you read.  You can devour Thoreau and Plato and Sun Tzu and Tolstoy, but in my opinion you are not an accomplished reader until you’ve mastered positions and places.  It’s never too late to start!  If you’ve been a conventional, butt-in-the-chair type of reader, with an occasional “daring adventure” on the bus, train, or family car,  it’s high time you moved up to the next level.  Which would be

1. Horizontal.  Most of us have mastered this one, but I’m starting with the basics.  Who hasn’t read in bed?  It’s much safer than smoking and the only downside is it can rob you of your full eight hours sleep.  If you’re a kid, it can be hard on flashlight batteries, too.  Don’t limit the experience to beds, however–try hammocks, floors, blankets on the grass, kitchen counters, sleeping bags, tree limbs.  Be imaginative!

2. On your feet.  The great advantage for us fifty-ups is it keeps us from falling asleep (usually).  On cold nights, it’s much easier to stand over a heat register than crouch on it.  On warm days, why not get in a little reading time while standing over the barbecue?  If you need to lose a few pounds, remember that the stationary leg gets the workout, so try switching legs.  And if you get tired, there’s always a leanable object nearby:

gotta read

3. In Motion.  This is actually a sub-position, to be combined with others.  If you’re in a hammock, give it a push (same with a porch swing, but points off for sitting).  Forward motion in a car or train doesn’t really count unless you get motion sickness–then it’s heroic.  As is reading on the back of a motorcycle. For skydiving or parasailing, see #7, below. But with just a little practice anyone can read-while-walking, and you will wow your friends and neighbors so long as they aren’t always picking you up off the dirt.  Follow these simple tips: a) choose a familiar route; b) check for potholes; c) avoid running into people, who tend to get tetchy; d) don’t trip over small animals.  You might want to practice on a flat, unpopulated surface, like a racetrack.

4. Around water.  For many of us, this may mean the bathroom.   Beaches don’t count, neither do toilets (no fair sitting!!).  I’m a practiced bathtub reader (tub positions are not sitting!! they are semi-reclining!!), with only one fatality on my record (if it happens to you, try this).  Avoid clawfoot tubs, which tend to have curved railings that present balance problems.  Also avoid those aluminum frames with the sliding shower doors–I hate those!  Speaking of showers, I hear it’s possible to read in them, but I’ve nontrad.reading2never tried that.  I make up for it by reading while washing dishes (standing and around water).  If you try this, a book chair is very helpful.  Add a clear piece of plexiglass, and kiss your concerns about sloshes and splashes good-bye.  Some try to, as they say, go “all in,” but I think they’re mostly showoffs.  Or they have one of these, in which case they are extremely devout .

5. Upside down.  This is mostly a novelty act, though I hear it’s actually a thing–some people read just as well upside down as rightside up.  (And no, I don’t mean they read equally badly in both positions, so don’t go there.)  They are rock stars!gotta read2

6. Contortionist style.  Mainly a specialty of people in the 11-17 age range, and not for beginners!  Readers attempting contortionist style would be well advised to start with simple positions, making ample use of friendly furniture

and gradually build up to the more challenging poses:


Results may vary!












7. Extreme Reading.  I hate to be a killjoy, but at some point, reading ceases to be reading and becomes something else, like an Olympic event or a circus act.  So enjoy your base jumping or paragliding-cumJane-Eyre, but I do not choose to participate.  And I’ll bet you don’t remember anything you read.


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