How I Read Tag

I saw this tag on Mary’s blog, Mary and the Words and I thought it looked fun, so I’m going to do it. I don’t know where it originally came from, and Google wasn’t helpful.

woman sitting on chair beside brown table

Photo by Elle Hughes on

Do you have a certain place at home for reading?

I usually read on my couch, on my bed, or in the chair in my bedroom. It all depends on the time of day and the weather. In the summer, it’s too hot to sit in my chair, but during the fall and spring I will have the windows open and the cross breeze coming in through the windows feels great. I usually read for at least half an hour before bed, unless I fall asleep. My bed is awfully comfy.

The couch is where I do most of my reading but sometimes, like the cats, I will eschew furniture and sprawl out on the floor with a pillow.

Can you just stop reading, or do you have to stop after a chapter/certain amount of pages?

I can stop anywhere on a page, or even in the middle of a sentence. Stopping in the middle of a page doesn’t bother me at all. It doesn’t help that I will often fall asleep while reading in bed, or be interrupted by some distraction while reading over my lunch hour at work.

Bookmark or random piece of paper?

I usually use a bookmark, though I’ll use any bit of paper or receipt that’s handy. My bookmarks are the plain paper ones I get from the used bookstore with every purchase (at last count, I had forty-two or so). I’d use the pretty tasseled bookmarks I’ve collected over the years, but the cats– especially Mina– like to play with them, and I don’t want to ruin pretty bookmarks with toothmarks.

Multi-tasking: music or TV while reading?

I try not to watch TV while reading, as I end up not being able to focus on either the TV or the book. I can listen to music, though. Music without lyrics is best, and if I can match the mood of the music to the mood of the book, it pleases my own sense of aesthetics, but in the long run the type of music doesn’t really matter.

woman sitting while reading a book

Photo by Daria Shevtsova on

Do you eat or drink while reading?

Not very often. I don’t have an end table by my couch, so I have nothing to set a drink or snacks on, and I have to keep the nightstand by my bed clear or the cats will knock things off. I can have a mug of tea or something on the little table next to my chair, but I often get lost in the book and forget I made a drink until the tea has cooled or the ice has melted. I don’t snack very much at all, so I do even less eating while reading.

Reading at home or everywhere?

I will read at home, at work, at a friend’s house, on planes, trains, and automobiles. I will read while waiting in line at the grocery store or the DMV or the airport. I will read while on vacation or while visiting family (I even have a favorite reading spot at my sister’s house). Airplanes are particularly nice to read on when I have a long flight. I’ve been able to finish multiple books on a single, trans-Atlantic flight.

Basically, I’ll read anywhere. Except at the beach.

One book at a time or several at once?

I’ll usually read several at once, with two or three being the most common quantity. I’ve been in the midst of up to five at once. I don’t like doing that, though. It’s not that I have trouble keeping the stories separate, it’s that I don’t enjoy multi-tasking, and having four or more books going at once feels too much like multi-tasking. I’ll make an effort to finish one or two of them so I can get the quantity back down to just a couple at once.

Reading out loud or silently in your head?

I don’t object to reading aloud, but as I have no one but the cats to read to, I don’t read aloud. It feels strange to do it, and the cats just ignore me.

I don’t subvocalise, either– that is, I don’t imagine an internal voice speaking the words in my head. I can imagine the characters’ voices when they’re speaking, but that’s it.

I’ve tried to read along with the physical book while reading the audiobook, but the narrator– even on 1.5x speed– is entirely too slow compared to my normal reading speed. I’ve never taken a speed reading course or anything like that, it’s just that I’ve been reading so much for so long that my personal reading speed is set to “really fast”.

woman reading a book beside the window

Photo by Rahul Shah on

Do you read ahead or even skip pages?

I used to read ahead. I’d get impatient to find out what was going on, and so I’d flip to the back of the book to catch glimpses of what was going to happen, but I don’t do that anymore. I have been known to skip pages though– mostly in epic fantasies where you’ll have entire chapters dedicated to characters you’ve never seen before and will never see again. I know the author is trying to expand upon their world, but I generally have zero interest in reading about anything that doesn’t pertain to the main characters and their story.

Most recently, I skipped entire chapters in Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson, just because I didn’t care what was going on with the new characters in the new part of the world I knew we were unlikely to see again. But it’s been a few years since I read Words of Radiance, and I haven’t really done that since.

Breaking the spine or keeping it like new?

Keeping it like new. I don’t like to bend the covers or break the spines or tear the dust jackets of my books. I have a mass-market paperback copy of The Return of the King my parents bought me when I was eleven or twelve, and it looks almost new.

I blame my mother, who always made sure I kept my things in good condition. She wasn’t about to buy me a new whatever-it-was just because the old one was broken, so I learned to keep stuff in good shape so I would have it for a long time.

Do you write in your books?

Not often, no. It goes with not breaking the spines. I have a commonplace book for quotes I want to remember, or else I’ll write my thoughts in my journal. Unless it’s in a language I don’t understand, I find marginalia in modern books to be distracting.

fashion woman notebook pen

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14 thoughts on “How I Read Tag

  1. I have some dear friends that crack the spine with such intention, makes me cringe, and then to see the beautiful lettering and embossing all wrinkled with front and back covers that will never lay flat ever again, oh my.

  2. Eugh….. That makes me cringe, too. I wouldn’t purposely crack the spine of my books! I accidentally cracked the spine of my copy of Sagas of Icelanders, and it still makes me sad to see it like that on my shelf.

  3. Oh, why no reading at the beach? Although, now that I think about it, I’ve never read at the beach either. I’ve tried, but I always get distracted and just have fun with others instead or people-watch.
    And thanks for that term — “subvocalise.” I assumed everyone did this. Only a few times have I read something without that reading voice.

  4. I haven’t been to a lot of beaches– mostly northern ones in Ireland, Scotland, and Iceland. The Florida beach was crowded and noisy and distracting. The northern beaches, while not crowded at all, were beaches where you couldn’t just sit down and not pay attention, because big waves could suddenly wash over you. Especially in Iceland.

    You’re welcome! I generally don’t subvocalise, unless I’m working through a particularly dense part of a book. Then I’ll slow down and subvocalise.

  5. That means you should visit the Caribbean!! (after the pandemic) Great beaches there, esp in Jamaica (best island), lol. But it does get very hot in the Carib, so… you might not like it, maybe. But better, less crowded beaches with water so clear you can see the fishes swimming around you are there. 🙂

  6. Heat and sun are not my friends! I just got back from an hourlong walk, and even though I was walking through a shady neighborhood, I had to put sunscreen on. I sunburn in about twenty minutes, otherwise. I had SPF50 sunscreen on in Florida, and I still got a nasty burn. So I will probably avoid the Caribbean…

  7. Wait. You never read at the beach? Why not?! I love reading at the beach. Obviously, covered up and under a giant umbrella, but still. I find the waves crashing so soothing… I mean, I don’t go to the beach often, I live in Wisconsin after all. XD But when I *do* go to the beach, I’ll spend the whole day going back and forth between lazing about in the water and reading. Paradise.

    So here’s a fun fact: I don’t subvocalize either. But that’s because I don’t hear words in my head. Or see pictures. I cannot seem to explain to people how I experience reading. I *feel* what the characters are feeling. I get emotions and sympathy pains and all that. It’s apparently super different from what other people experience when reading? I wouldn’t know. XD

  8. I rarely go to beaches, and at the ones I spent the most time at while traveling– particularly in Iceland– it wasn’t safe to not pay attention to what the waves were doing. So no reading. It was too windy, anyway. And I was with friends at the beach in Florida, and bookish as we were, we were swimming and trying not to get sunburned (didn’t work…).

    You’ve mentioned the aphantasia before. Is not subvocalising a thing associated with that? I see images, but don’t subvocalise, unless I’m taking it slow because I’m reading a complex passage or something like that.

  9. The right beach, then. At the RIGHT beach for reading I’d read. 😉 I think those are all great reasons not to read at the beach. Heck, if my only experience with beaches were with beaches that were more dangerous than calm, I’d feel the same way.

    I don’t think the subvocalising is associated with it. But there isn’t much research on aphantasia, so I can’t say. There’s still a lot to learn! The human brain is crazy. My husband thinks that I have the capability to do both, but those parts of my brain are either inactive, hotwired to do other things, or a bit mixed up. Maybe someday I’ll participate in a study so I can learn more.

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