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Positions in Bed

All kinds of unusual positions

All kinds of unusual positions

When I’m reading in bed (which occurs, roughly, every night), I lie stretched out flat on my stomach, propped up on my elbows, with the book in front of me, between my hands. Somehow, I unspokenly assumed other people read like this, too, until I mentioned to my coworker Julie that I had sore elbows because the book I was reading (Three Day Road by Joseph Boyden) was so good that I’d been reading a lot more per night than usual. She made a confused face, and when we got into it, she informed me that when she reads in bed, she reads on her side, propping her face/head on one hand. My coworker Richard is a side-reader, too (should I be revealing these intimate details about people without permission?).

Since discovering I’m weird, I’ve asked around and have found many people who sit up, against the headboard or a pillow or two, and prop the book on their knees. Many side-readers. But no tummy-reader-elbow-proppers like me. Am I so strange?

How do you read, when you read in bed?

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Beth Carswell

About Beth Carswell

I've been reading, selling, researching, loving and writing about books with AbeBooks since 2000.

35 Responses to “Positions in Bed”

  1. On my back, head propped on a few pillows, with a directional lamp clamped to the headboard, shining over my shoulder.

  2. No, you are not weird. A tummy-elbow reader reporting!

  3. I would prefer to read on my belly, propped on my elbows, did so from childhood until it began to hurt my back … in my twenties? I now sit up against the headboard and a couple of pillows, scooching slowly down as I get sleepier and sleepier …

  4. I occasionally read in the tummy-elbow position, but it hurts my shoulders. So side-reader position it is!

  5. Beth Carswell

    Rosemary, I find my shoulders take it pretty well, but I admit my elbows suffer from both soreness and dryness when I’m reading a particularly good book.

  6. Beth Carswell

    Hooray, yve! Tummy-readers unite.

  7. I am also a tummy reader but I put my pillow underneath my stomach to provide support to my lower back and prop the book up against the wall or sometimes having it laying semi-flat with something underneath to prop up the “head” of it.

    When I feel back getting, um, achy, I switch to side, and then will often switch sides when the hand whose thumb is holding the book open needs a rest.

  8. I have to say I might be all of them. I can’t stay still very long so I usually rotate.

  9. Richard Davies

    I always read in the missionary position

  10. When I read I don’t have one particular position. I vary. Sometimes I start off on my stomach, then turn over onto my back, no pillow beneath my head, with book in hand and arms stretched upward in front of my face. Then I might turn over to my side with a pillow under my head. Then maybe prop up the pillows behind my back and sit up with my back against the headboard.

  11. I read on my side, but frequently fall asleep that way. So I’ve started trying to sit up. Have tried the stomach thing, but it makes my back hurt.

  12. I used to be a side-reader but always end up losing my place when I nod off. Now I lie on my back on some pillows so the book falls in my face and wakes me up.

  13. I flip back and forth from left to right to left to right. I just don’t like to hold the book, especially if its heavy so I prop it up until I get to the next page then I turn me instead of the page.

  14. I can’t read on my side because my hands get pins and needles. I either read sitting up angled against a bunch of pillows or on my stomach. I found that if you put pillows under your chest you don’t have to rely on your elbows as much.

  15. I use whatever position feels the most comfortable at any given time. This includes on my side, propped up on one elbow; flat on my back with cushions under each arm and a pillow under my head; on my stomach; or propped up by larger bolster. The side and stomach positions work best for large books, the others for smaller, lighter books that can be easily hand-held.

  16. On my tummy, of course!

  17. Beth Carswell

    Hooray, Clare! It’s really the only sane way to read in bed.

  18. Beth Carswell

    Ooh, a variation on a theme. I’ll have to give that one a try. I’ll gladly alternate a squashed bosom with sore elbows if it helps me read longer!

  19. I have a ubiquitously named reading wedge of which I’m very fond. But I will occasionally resort to other positions.

  20. i role all around! i usually start out on my back, but i have to move, so tummy and both sides get their qt as well – i guess im a rotisserie chicken reader in bed, if that’s a position

  21. I actually read the same way; laying on my stomach, head facing the foot of my bed, elbows propped up, book in hands. Or I read lying on my back.

  22. I most often read in the bathtub!! When not in the bath I alternate stomach and side reading.

  23. Primarily a back with pillows reader, but I am also a rotisserie when I have been at it for a long time. Read in the bath, on the pot, while shuffling clothes into the dryer, at red lights, waiting for my take out food, in the doctor’s office, over other people’s shoulders, sidelong reader, and upside down… I used to teach. Can’t read in direct sunlight.

  24. Belly reading is the best ! I have converted my wife. I squeeze the pillow together for my chin, thus not requiring much elbow support.

  25. I usually either lie on my belly, leaning the book against the pillow leaning on the headrest or I lean on the pillow softening the headrest with the book standing on my belly.
    Sometimes I read on my side, but not often as I then have to hold most of the books weight.

  26. Sitting up, two pillows between my back and the head board. Once in awhile for variety I’ll read on my tummy and elbows but that never seems to be comfortable for very long.

  27. I usually lie on my back and hold the book in the air (if its a smaller book). with big books I shift around a lot and always end up on my stomach, propped on my elbows..

  28. If your elbows hurt, I suggest you put a pillow under your chest. I usually fold a pillow in half or use two, because I’m also a tummy reader (sometimes).

  29. When I was young, on my tummy on the floor. But now on my back on the bed. But I miss my tummy on floor days…

  30. i read my books on my tummy, curl up my legs and add more pillows on my back. i actually change position every half an hour. i would also lay on my side and balance the book on my bed as well. but i would always lay on my tummy and this position always give me a strain on the neck after a few hours. i love reading so much that i, as student/designer, am designing a book holder for my A level project. Mind giving me some suggestions? from a book lover to another.
    you can also email me on b.u.t.fool@hotmail.com

  31. Its ridiculous how much more attention I get from the opposite sex when I have a squirrel feeder!

  32. thanks for the good info for my school project! i read in a variety of positions

  33. I read the same way, but it’s been giving me neck and elbow pain, but any other position is too uncomfortable…😕

  34. LOVED reading on my tummy until my physical therapist forbade it. She said it was contributing to my back problems. I now read sitting up with my back resting against the headboard on some pillows, but I find that I don’t read for as long anymore. I’m now seeking some type of pillow or support that will allow me to read comfortably for longer periods of time.


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