Reader Friday – Secret Reading Places and Unique Reading Habits

Many surveys of reading habits have been done here at TKZ on Reader Fridays. I couldn’t find any on unusual reading habits, so I thought that might be a good topic for today.

Many people read on busses, subways, trains, and ferries. Children climb into tree houses or just a branch on a tree. People read on boats and in the park. But, in what unusual or unique places have you read or observed others reading? Or what unique locations have you given your characters to read in?

Do you practice, or have you observed, unusual activities while reading? Or have you given a character the unique ability to read while doing something other than sitting quietly. Please tell us.

While you search your memory’s database, here are a few I’ve seen or practiced:

Growing up, in my early years, Reader’s Digest and other magazines resided on the top of the toilet tank. I thought that was normal. It wasn’t until years later that I realized it may have had something to do with my mother growing up in a home without indoor plumbing and with an outhouse “out back.” If you were going to use the pages from “Monkey Wards” for toilet paper, you may as well read them first.

During those early years, I also checked out books from our small-town library, climbed up into the branches of a tree in front of our house, and read while people walked by on the sidewalk below. Somehow, it was more fun to go unnoticed.

In my college years I visited relatives in the Virginia mountains. Many of them had gardens, and more than a few guarded their gardens. Apparently, groundhogs could mow down a row of lettuce very quickly. Sunny days were spent on the back porch, in a rocking chair, overlooking the garden, and holding a gun while reading a book.

Early in my training, I spent many nights in the hospital. I found that the ward clerks who really took their reading seriously requested the graveyard shift where there was less paperwork and more time to read. And, the paperwork definitely had lower priority than the reading.

Now it’s your turn.

  • What bizarre unusual “unique” reading habits have you seen in others or given to your characters?
  • What “special” reading habits do you practice?
  • Do you have a secret place to hide from the world so you can read uninterrupted?

37 thoughts on “Reader Friday – Secret Reading Places and Unique Reading Habits

  1. Good morning, Steve.

    1) I think e-readers have allowed folks more opportunities to bring reading material along. This is not always a good thing. I did see a guy standing in line at Chipotle reading from a Kindle and surreptitiously, um…anyway, he looked like an ax murderer. Though I might be projecting.

    2) Well, not what I saw in #1! At least in public!

    3) Since I spend most of my time hiding, I guess it isn’t a secret.

    Thank you, Steve. Have a great weekend!

    • Good morning, Joe.

      I’m glad that possible ax murderer didn’t engage in any bizarre behavior while in the Chipotle. He may have been researching how to do the crime. One bad thing about e-readers, you can’t snoop and see what they are reading.

      Have a great weekend with plenty of time to hide away and read!

  2. It isn’t unusual to anyone else, but I’m always flummoxed at how many people I see reading stuff on their teeny-weenie little cell phone screens. It looks so uncomfortable. At least an e-reader has a decent screen size, especially helpful when you need the print to be a little larger.

    • I agree, BK. Of course I’m one of those people who prefers to read a “real” book rather than an e-book. Maybe some of those who read on the phone are so comfortable with their phone that it’s always with them, and reading on the phone eliminates something else they have to lug around. Maybe some of the cell phone readers will give us more insight today.

      Thanks for your thoughts.

  3. I suppose the most “unusual” (but for a reader, what’s unusual about a reading place?), would be the Orlando Post Office on Turkey Lake Road. Rarely did I get through the line in under 20 minutes, so I brought a book.
    Now, nothing unusual. When I got my first smartphone, it was handy when we were out and the Hubster said, “You can wait in the car, I’ll just be a minute.” Now I take my iPad mini with me if I know there might be a wait. Doctor, dentist, vet.
    When I travel to conferences, I’m often alone, so I take my ereader to the restaurants/bars when there’s not some official function. And yes, Mr. Gilstrap, if there are people to mingle with, I’ll set the reader aside and try to be sociable.

    • You had me laughing, Terry, with the message to John.

      Yes, waiting in line is a great place to read. We should rename it a “reading line” and market our books as devices that make the wait seem shorter.

      Doctor and dentist offices always have magazines, but the magazines are ancient. I take my own. Years ago, in my office, women began telling me that there weren’t any magazines for women. I knew we were subscribing to some. I started keeping track. They were “disappearing.” So we began to put a pasted label on the front of all the magazines, asking people to return them to the rack when they were done so someone else could enjoy them.

      Thanks for sharing your experiences.

  4. “Unique” reading habit: I once sat on a plane next to a woman who was reading a paperback James Patterson. Every now and then she’d pause and tear off the pages she’d read, fold the pages, and stuff them in the seat pocket. When an attendant came around with a bag, she put the ripped-out pages in it. I had to say, “That must be a trashy novel.”

    She explained that she buys used paperbacks for travel, but doesn’t like carrying the whole book around if she hasn’t finished it. When she rips off pages, it makes the book skinnier and easier to put in her purse.

    • Great story, Jim. First we had “reading lines” from Terry. Now it’s “throw away novels.” I wonder what James Patterson would think about that practice.

      Maybe we’ll come up with some marketing ideas today.


    • Wow, Olivia. That could be dangerous in certain places in this day and age.

      I remember living in Columbus, Ohio, and seeing people spend an hour or more each day commuting to and from work. I ended up moving back to a rural area where I could drive to work in 5 minutes. But I always said that if I had to live in a city, I would rather take a bus, train, or subway, where I could read while commuting. Not so these days.

      I hope your weekend is safe with lots of time for reading.

  5. Great questions, Steve. I’m enjoying the comments.

    I have a character in my middle grade novel who’s sitting on a branch in an oak tree. She isn’t reading — she says she’s writing a novel. I can’t wait to read it.

    I have a nice, big, comfy recliner in my office that I curl up in to read before bedtime. It’s not a secret place, but it feels sort of like a cocoon. I prefer my iPad for novels and print books for non-fiction. Maybe somebody can explain why I do that.

    My phone comes in handy when I’m in a waiting room or in line at the grocery store. or one of the other semi-infinite waiting places.

    Have a great weekend.

    • Thanks, Kay.

      I remember the first scene in Time after Tyme, where Reen is out on a tree branch. I had thought that she was reading, but I just reread the scene and refreshed my memory. She was taking sleuth notes.

      Trees and reading have always been special to me. I mentioned in my intro reading on a branch in town. We later moved to the country and my brother and I built a tree house (basically just a floor between branches). That, too, was a good place to read.

      The e-book vs print book option for me amounts to taking notes, high-lighting, and dog-earing nonfiction. I know that you’re supposed to be able to do those things in e-books, but a print book is easier for me.

      Have a great weekend.

  6. Great topic, Steve! …and holding a gun while reading a book. Love it!

    My current reading place most days is kind of boring. A corner of one of our living room couches, every (mostly) afternoon between 2 and 4. (Yes, I schedule my reading time…:))

    But, when I was a kid . . . a tent in the back yard. And woe to either of the brothers who might decide to bedevil me. I was short, skinny, and could move faster than both of them.

    Happy Friday all!

    • Thanks, Deb. What kind of critters attack your gardens in Washington?

      Ah, yes, tents. Great place for reading. When we moved to our current house, I pulled an old tent out of the storage area and inhaled the musty smell. It brought back many good memories of growing up, but my wife told me my grandkids would never sleep in a musty tent. Why do we pamper them so?

      I bet your brothers learned to leave you alone. You probably read about some appropriate ways to deal with the bad guys. I assume they both survived to adulthood.

      Happy Friday!

      • Yes, they both did, but we did lose the youngest to a car crash when he was 20.

        Squirrels! They’re everywhere. Out here in orchard country we call them grey diggers, and they love the thinned apples lying on the ground under the trees. Then they go after gardens… 🙁

  7. Fun topic, Steve.

    This is a bit off-topic but I think it’s relevant. Years ago, Craig Black was stuck in traffic in LA. He sometimes read books while gridlocked. One day, he looked around at thousands of other drivers and thought “All these people could be reading.” That inspired him to start Blackstone Audio. Audiobooks took off and Blackstone was a hit with “readers” who listened to books.

    • Thanks for that history, Debbie. And it’s not off topic at all. If we find patterns in reading preferences and habits, maybe we can look for ways to market to them.

      Before the gremlins struck today, I was going to recommend you for finding a way to market our books based on the comments we were getting, like throw away books (Jim’s comment) and waiting line (reading line) books (Terry’s comments). But then the Gremlins struck.

      Have a great weekend!

  8. An unusual reading place: Several times I observed a classmate of mine, a nursing student, sitting on the cement floor of the tunnel that connected our dorm to the hospital. She was reading a book. When I asked why she chose this place to read, this was her response. ” This time of day there is little foot traffic. The only room down here is the morgue and I know they won’t be asking me why I am sitting here reading.”
    That was my cue to “move along.”

    • What a morbid place to read. I wonder what genre she was reading. Maybe horror?

      Thanks for stopping by. That’s truly a unique habit.

  9. While I prefer either a real book or one on my iPad, I read on my phone all the time–it’s handy. I don’t read magazines in a doctor or dentist’s office, especially during flu season…you don’t know what kind of germs might be on them!

    • Good points, Patricia. The phone is handy. And those doctor’s offices are full of sick people. I once heard a patient say, “There should be a well side (to the waiting room/reception area) and a sick side.”

      Have a healthy weekend.

  10. When I started working in downtown L.A. in 1976, I rode the 448 bus both ways. I knew no one aboard, and, in fact, as we got closer to downtown, the riders became odder and odder. The very strangest were prone to start laughing loudly with no discernible cause It was best to avoid eye contact, so I read. I remember in particular reading All Creatures Great and Small, a very funny book. So funny, that I eventually had to stop reading it, lest other riders think I was one of those poor souls who cackled at the humor in their minds.

    • Great story, JG. Reading as a defense mechanism. And what an appropriate book. Animals in the book and outside the book.

      That would have been an interesting experience.


  11. TKZers, the website gremlins are at it again. Right now, Steve can’t respond to comments and asked me to let you know. Our webmaster is working on the problem.

  12. Late to the party this morning (well, it’s still morning here in the PNW 🙂
    Since retiring, I’m home most the time, so that’s my not-so-secret writing lair. No chair , couch or bed is safe, I’ll read anywhere.

    Wracking my brains to remember the strangest reading place I’ve seen someone read at–probably perched on a fifty gallon drum or a pallet stack at the windshield cleaner bottling plant I worked at in high school and my first year in college. It was also where I met my future wife. Her beauty caught my eye at once, but her love of reading captured me.

    • Sorry for the delayed response, Dale. The site was working off and on today.

      Retirement is great. We can read wherever we want.

      And I like that: beauty and love of reading found at the bottling plant.

      Have a great weekend!

  13. Gee, I must be the most boring reader here. I read in my recliner. Although, I do carry my Kindle everywhere if the book grabs me, sneaking in a page or two while cooking or doing laundry or whatever. Does that count?

    Have a fabulous weekend, my friend!

    • Thanks, Sue. Do you read during the commercials? That counts.

      Sorry for the delayed response. It’s been on again off again her at TKZ land. Thank goodness Brian is working on it.

      You have a fabulous weekend, too!

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