Dirty Little Reading Habits

I enjoyed reading Cleopatra’s post about reading rituals so much I thought I’d have a go myself.

Do you have a certain place at home for reading?

French Riveria

Favourite kind of reading spot

There’s a big difference between where I do read and where I want to be reading. My favourite reading spot would be outdoors on a warm, sunny day in a place where I can look up and admire the view. It could be a park or a veranda (but definitely not a beach sun lounger) even my garden though the view is rather limited to watching the birds bathe in the fountain. But of course the UK weather doesn’t allow too many days like this and one can’t on holiday all the time…… so where I usually do my reading is tucked up in bed at night. Ever since I was a child I’ve found I absolutely have to read before I go to sleep. Even when I’m feeling dog tired it seems I still have energy for just a few pages.

Bookmark or a random piece of paper?


A tiny sample of my bookmarks. My husband designed those on the left and right

I’ve bought/acquired dozens of bookmarks but I also like using postcards to mark my place in the book. Remember the days (pre-Internet and smart phones) when you went on holiday and bought postcards to send home telling everyone what a wonderful time you were having? It was a chore to write them and even more of a challenge was finding somewhere you could buy the stamps and then somewhere else to post them. So often I’d come home with them still unsent. I keep finding them dotted around the house so have taken to using them as bookmarks. I also have some cards picked up from galleries and museums. Not only are they practical (i.e. cheap) but whenever I pick up the book I get to recall that trip from many years ago. Since I keep losing them just as fast as I find them, there are times when I’ll use anything that is close at hand. Parking tickets, receipts, clothes price tags – you name it, at some time I’ve pressed them all into service. And of course in absolute desperation, there is always (dare I say this??) the ability to turn down the corner.

Random selection of postcards currently in use

Random selection of postcards currently in use

Can you stop reading any time, or do you have to stop in a certain place?

I don’t like stopping mid way through a chapter or a section so novels which don’t have divisions are always frustrating. I can never find my place again easily with those kinds of books.

Do you eat or drink while reading?

Nothing very exciting here – very occasionally I’ll indulge in a few toffees (not when I’m reading in bed of course) but I’ve learned the hard way that its impossible to hold an ice-cream in one hand and an open book in the other. They have a terrible habit of getting too close together and making a mess.

Can you read while listening to music/watching TV?

Absolutely not. I can multi-task many things but reading isn’t one of them. If there is a noisy tv in the background I’ll don my noise cancelling headphones to block it out.

One book at a time or several at once?

I never used to read more than one book at a time but that’s changed in the last couple of years largely because of e-readers. Before these became available, whenever I went on holiday or a business trip I’d be loaded down with books to read; always taking more than realistically I would have time to get through but anxious in case I’d finish them and not find anywhere selling English language titles. E-readers relieve that burden of course but I can’t wean myself away from physical books. So now I take a mixture. I take the e-reader out with me because it’s lighter and read my physical book when I get back to the hotel room.

Reading out loud or silently in your head?

I’m absolutely hopeless at doing accents so my attempts to read out loud would not do justice to any of the dialogue. I’ll just pretend in my head that it sounds right.

Do you read ahead and skip pages?

Only if the book is not grabbing me and I want to see if it’s worth investing any more of my time. I used to plough on with these kinds of books in the past, thinking that surely it would get better. But  that seldom happened.  I’ve decided to discard my hairshirt approach and to read only what I enjoy or can appreciate.

Break the spine or keep it new?

It seems that some readers view cracked spines as a despoliation of their book. It bothers me not in the least, I like seeing creases in my books. They’re the equivalent of wrinkles and laughter lines on someone’s face.  The more creases I see the more its clear the book has meant something special since clearly I’ve read it more than once.

No, not my books! 

Do you write in books?

In books I’m reading for study purposes then yes (providing of course I have my own copy). I still have copies of my old university texts with minute scribbles in the margins that are barely decipherable. It’s an odd feeling to come across those; like meeting yourself in a former life.  But I don’t make notes books I read for pleasure; not because I think it would me sacrilege to do so but as I explained in a post on this earlier in the year, simply because it would just interrupt the flow of reading.

Those are my confessions and secrets. Now how about hearing from you. Any secrets you care to share?


About BookerTalk

What do you need to know about me? 1. I'm from Wales which is one of the countries in the UK and must never be confused with England. 2. My life has always revolved around the written and spoken word. I worked as a journalist for nine years then in international corporate communications 3. My tastes in books are eclectic. I love realism and hate science fiction and science fantasy. 4. I am trying to broaden my reading horizons geographically by reading more books in translation

Posted on October 25, 2015, in Bookends, Sunday Salon and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 32 Comments.

  1. Love this post! And I couldn’t agree with you more re: creases in the spine.

  2. That was fun! I have a chaise in the corner of the living room next to a big window and a table. That is my reading place when I am not reading in bed. My husband has taken to calling my reading nook the “nest” and will say things like, don’t worry about doing XYX, go nest for awhile. Bless him!

    • You have trained him well Stefanie. We’re thinking of remodelling our dining room and my husband offered to create a little reading corner for me with a winged back armchair. I never thought about a chaise – hmm, now you have me thinking

  3. Love it! I end up using my business cards as bookmarks. I’ve probably used them more for that than “networking.”

    • There are very few occasions when business cards seem to be needed these days. It’s only in Asia that they are required. I have changed jobs so often that I have quite a stack unused – could be good to press them into service

  4. I hope you don’t mind if I answer the questions, too. 🙂

    Q1. On my bed, lying on my stomach.

    Q2. Bookmark, and that’s because I’ve amassed hundreds of them.

    Q3. I stop at paragraph breaks. I used to stop at the end of each chapter, but I somehow got read of that.

    Q4. I drink coffee sometimes, but it always grows cold.

    Q5. No. When I read, I just read.

    Q6. I’m a book slut!

    Q7. Silently.

    Q8. Never!

    Q9. Keep it new so that they look pretty on the shelves.

    Q10. Sometimes, but I usually do it at the end of each chapter, like a summary of my thoughts and feelings.

  5. Yeah if it’s my own book, I don’t mind cracking the spine either! I like it that way. Also if it’s nonfiction sometimes I’ll underline things I want to remember. It helps me, though I know other’s dont like that.

  6. I always read when reading and crumbs would fall to the middle of the book which is soooo annoying… I really need to stop doing that!

  7. I must store this away and do my own version one day. I love the one about where you stop reading. One of the first indications I had that I was on the Aspergers Spectrum was when I realised that I would always try and stop on a page that was a prime number 🙂

    • You take the prize for the most unusual reading habit in that case. Imagine having to do a calculation of when I reach the next prime number just when I’m ready to go to sleep

  8. I cut the small sticky notes into four strips from each ‘sheet’ and use these to mark places of interest as reference points when I later compose a review. As we were discussing at my book club meeting Saturday, everyone can tell how much I like the book by the number of brightly-colored ‘stickies’–a lot denotes a well-loved book and many fewer means I liked it, but didn’t love it. Perhaps an exception to that would be The Beautiful Bureaucrat. Usually, when I’ve finished reading a book, you know it’s been read by looking at it! I agree that it shows love! 🙂 Nice post!

    • Have you ever thought about buying those small sticky notes so you don’t have to spend all that time cutting them up? Or is the cutting into strips part of the enjoyment? Just wondering :). I use them also but sometimes can’t remember what it was that caught my attention about a particular quote

      • Ha! Hadn’t even thought about it. I believe it is much cheaper to do it this way…and it appeals to the “cut and paste” Elementary Ed side of me! 🙂 I sometimes write a bit on them to remind me of a thought or what-not, but generally can always find what attracted me to that portion of text rather easily. But then sometimes I catch myself reading 2-3 pages before I realize I was composing a review!!! LOL

  9. Oh dear… I crack spines, have several books on the go, read during cooking the dinner and eating, read while I watch tv (I’m not really watching the tele…) and always make notes in books – that’s how I show my love!

    • On that basis you’re a hopeless case. Just teasing of course Kate…Reading during cooking would prove a disastrous recipe for me. I’d end up with way too many burnt offerings

  10. I can’t read in an armchair. I can’t read on the sofa, either sitting up or lying down. I can’t read sitting at a desk or at the kitchen table. I can’t read on the bus or the train or the tram. I can’t read outdoors. The only place I can read is in bed. I can’t get to sleep at night without reading, sometimes for 10 minutes, sometimes for an hour or two or even longer. If I’m trying to finish a book in the daytime I have to lie on, or in, the bed. I could never go to bed at night without a book – I’ve been like that since I was four or five years old. My father used to shout and roar at me for still having the light on two hours after bedtime, so I got a torch to let me read under the bedclothes. Bed=book, always has, always will.

    • Funny how you can read lying down on a bed but not on a sofa. I can’t read standing up either though my niece has mastered the art and can dance at the same time.

  11. I can’t read in bed. There. There’s my secret. Can’t read right before I go to bed, because I want to know too much of the story. If I do read before bed, it’s usually when I’m at the end of a book or when I’m able to stay up late to finish one. Otherwise, not really.

    I am completely a monogamous reader. I’ve tried reading more than one at a time, but just doesn’t work for me.

    • Some books are not good to read just before turning the light out I’ve found (usually they’re the ones with some kind of a mystery or are very plot driven). I’d love to read more in the evening but the time between getting home from work and bed-time just evaporates

  12. Love these questions and your answers!


  13. So with you on the ‘have to read a few pages before I go to sleep’ – just prepares me for a good night’s rest. Although sometimes I find myself still reading a few hours later if the book is particularly gripping!
    Such fun reading your answers, so pleased you decided to participate.

  14. I have this one up my sleeve for a rainy day but I’m enjoying reading other bloggers’ dirty little reading secrets in the meantime.

  15. Interesting to read your take on these habits – I do like how we all love our books but apply our own ‘rules’ Thank you for linking to my post.

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