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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?

Posted by on August 23, 2010.

Categories: AbeBooks

32 Responses

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

    by tom on Aug 24, 2010 at 1:47 am

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

    by yve on Aug 24, 2010 at 3:02 am

  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 …

    by Kimberly on Aug 24, 2010 at 7:11 am

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

    by Rosemary on Aug 24, 2010 at 8:46 am

  5. 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.

    by elizabethc on Aug 24, 2010 at 10:52 am

  6. Hooray, yve! Tummy-readers unite.

    by elizabethc on Aug 24, 2010 at 10:53 am

  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.

    by Lauren on Aug 24, 2010 at 4:54 pm

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

    by Ruby on Aug 26, 2010 at 8:56 am

  9. I always read in the missionary position

    by Richard Davies on Aug 26, 2010 at 4:43 pm

  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.

    by Q. Robinson on Aug 27, 2010 at 7:37 am

  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.

    by Eileen on Aug 27, 2010 at 11:08 am

  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.

    by Jane on Aug 27, 2010 at 11:43 am

  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.

    by Rivka on Aug 27, 2010 at 3:28 pm

  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.

    by Kelly on Aug 28, 2010 at 6:39 pm

  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.

    by Bibliophile on Sep 1, 2010 at 2:00 am

  16. On my tummy, of course!

    by Clare on Sep 1, 2010 at 3:50 am

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

    by elizabethc on Sep 1, 2010 at 11:51 am

  18. 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!

    by elizabethc on Sep 1, 2010 at 11:52 am

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

    by Robin on Sep 1, 2010 at 1:51 pm

  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

    by meagan dixon on Sep 1, 2010 at 2:41 pm

  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.

    by Mandi Nielsen on Sep 1, 2010 at 5:54 pm

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

    by Lindsay on Sep 2, 2010 at 12:50 am

  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.

    by Mar on Sep 2, 2010 at 6:08 am

  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.

    by choko on Sep 5, 2010 at 5:40 am

  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.

    by Starkitty on Sep 5, 2010 at 3:30 pm

  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.

    by Curtis on Sep 6, 2010 at 7:04 pm

  27. [...] about before – by the nice folk over at AbeBooks, who’ve been wondering if it’s weird to read lying on your stomach, propped on your elbows (and yes, I reckon it sounds [...]

    by Sitting, lying or standing: what’s the pole position for reading? on Mar 13, 2011 at 4:48 am

  28. 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..

    by Sik on Jun 1, 2011 at 5:20 pm

  29. 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).

    by Elizabeth on Aug 12, 2011 at 11:14 pm

  30. 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…

    by Luther on Sep 1, 2011 at 11:23 pm

  31. 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

    by kole on Sep 10, 2011 at 10:46 pm

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

    by macarons online on May 25, 2012 at 6:11 pm

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