I don't mean to boast, but I think I have quite strong hands. Strong because they are forced, every night in bed, to hold up whatever hefty tome I'm currently reading (they generally seem to be long, the books I choose). It's an essential end to my day: I find I can't actually go to sleep unless I've read for at least five minutes, and I'll even do it when I'm somewhat intoxicated, words blurring and all – although in the morning I'll never remember what happened during the bit I read.
Anyway, I've been moved to consider how I do it – not something I ever really thought 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 painful).
"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," writes one employee on the company's Reading Copy book blog. "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."
Other techniques mentioned at AbeBooks include sitting up against the headboard with some pillows, "scooching slowly down as I get sleepier and sleepier", and the bizarre pillow-under-the stomach approach, with the book propped against the wall.
My technique is also lying on my side, but I prop myself up on a few pillows and hold the book in both hands. If it's a particularly large book I'll balance one edge of it on the bed. This can quite annoying, as the pages get caught on the bedsheet and my thumbs gets sore, but in general it's comfortable enough for me to stay in one position for ages – often until I fall asleep, glasses pressed into my face.
I'd love to know how you guys do it – and also if, like me, your bedtime reading can differ substantially from your daytime. I might well continue with whatever reading the day has brought, but quite often I'm in the mood for something easy, something I've read before, something which soothes me off to sleep. At the moment, my bedside table carries the eclectic mix of Jack Vance's Tales of the Dying Earth, Mary Stewart's The Wicked Day and Andrew Motion's 1987 biography of Keats. The thriller I'd been reading during the day, Linwood Barclay's Never Look Away, was too scary for the night – particularly as I'm home alone.
Anyway, what's your position on this?