Do you prefer reading alone, or with others?

TalkThe Green Dragon

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Do you prefer reading alone, or with others?

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Oct 17, 2007, 7:35am

This is usually a toughy, because I really like company, but I also find other people distracting when I'm reading.

I have to say there's nothing better than curling up with my kids outside on a blanket, or inside under the covers, when all three of us are reading. :o)

Oct 17, 2007, 7:45am

Growing up my parents and I always read together. My own family isn't as interested in reading unfortunately so although I'd like to read with them, it hardly ever happens.

Oct 17, 2007, 8:27am

I don't even know which I prefer because no one I've known has ever read with me. My mom likes reading, my dad doesn't, and my brother hated it. I guess I'll have to see when I have my own family at some point. =)

Oct 17, 2007, 8:43am

Sometimes I like reading some books at the same time with others. The Harry Potter books, for example. My co-workers and my husband and I all read the books the same time, so that we could be free to discuss them with each other.

Mostly though, I love a nice solitary read.

Oct 17, 2007, 8:50am

OH! I didn't mean sharing a book! I meant sharing the same tight space, while reading your own thing.

I guess I should have clarified.

Oct 17, 2007, 9:02am

I prefer alone, but I do most of my reading on public transport, so it's often squashed in next to someone I don't know, or dangling of a handhold in the aisle.
Or walking into oncoming traffic.

Edited: Oct 17, 2007, 9:08am

I know exactly what you mean, Clam. I crave what you are describing.

I grew up in an environment where exactly that was done, but the 'tight space' was the downstairs rec room. My oldest sister might be listening to music with a (bulky, 1970's era) pair of headphones on, my other sister might be reading a magazine, my parents watching TV, and me reading a book, all in the same large space. It was wonderful. We had this great family feeling - everyone was around each other, and it was quite satisfying.

My wife grew up in a very different family environment. This family all had to be doing the same thing together or it is better they are in separate rooms. And they need to talk to each other constantly.

But give me the quiet shared reading environment any day. I actually prefer it over solo reading.

Edited: Oct 17, 2007, 9:09am

I don't mind reading with others around at all. I have one real life friend with whom I read often, and my husband and I will sometimes sit together and read (different books).

It's fun when it's the same book too though -- my friend and I read HP 7 sitting in the same room, exclaiming as we got to certain parts. And go to bookstores sometimes, pick up the 2 of the same book and just sit in the store reading for a while. (We don't read aloud to each other, just to clarify.)

Edited to add: I do tend to prefer to read alone, but I don't mind if others are present.

Oct 17, 2007, 9:09am

#5 Oh - don't you mean clare-ified?


Oct 17, 2007, 9:13am

#9 - Yes, that, too! ;o)

Oct 17, 2007, 9:16am

I read together or alone. In the evenings, I'm often sitting in the den with my wife and son - I'm reading, she's quilting or doing something on the computer, and he's 1) watching TV, 2) doing homework, 3) chatting with friends on AIM, 4) working on his Facebook page, and 5) eating a snack. My wife and I often read in bed before going to sleep - something she picked up from me. I get a lot of reading done when I have to travel for work. Airplanes, iPods and books are a match made in heaven for me.

Oct 17, 2007, 9:24am

I can do either, but only if the other people don't bother me. I lose patience when I can't get through a sentence without being asked to make a snack, find some item that's in plain sight, answer the phone, fix a computer, yadda yadda yadda.

Oct 17, 2007, 9:30am

It is absolutely wonderful when my wife and I can sit together and read while the kids are asleep. This is a peaceful as life gets for me. A dog or two on my lap is also nice.

Oct 17, 2007, 9:37am

I generally prefer to read alone. If I'm with other people, I'd like to be social, and if I and a friend or family member are in the same room and reading, they always tend to do the whole "hey, listen to this!" and read a sentence from the book they're reading. And I can only handle that one or two times before it starts to really irritate me. Because sure, the lines might be funny/interesting/whatever, but stop interrupting my reading!!

Oct 17, 2007, 10:08am

I used to read while my Dad watched TV, and I too read in the subway. It's fine as long as someone doesn't keep engaging you in conversation, unless of course it's discussing the book I'm reading in an interested manner. Reading alone is fine, too, especially if my cat is curled up nearby.

Oct 17, 2007, 10:55am

I prefer to read completely alone, with the exception of cats and/or dogs. I relish the thick, oppressive stillness of an empty house (but only when I'm reading).

Oct 17, 2007, 11:01am

I quite like to hear the flick of pages from someone else reading in an otherwise still house - doesn't happen often though. If I'm reading on my own I'll normally have some music on that I don't listen to.

Oct 17, 2007, 11:23am

As I live alone I normally read alone: In bed, in the bathtub, on the sofa, in a big chair, in a lawn chair. I read in the car when waiting. However, the few times I have settled in for a good read with someone else in the room it has been nice, although sometimes it is distracting, as in, "would you like a cup of tea"; "listen to this", etc.

Nonetheless, I love to read no matter where, no matter when.

Oct 17, 2007, 12:09pm

When I was a youngster, I definitely preferred to be alone and away from all of my brothers and sisters -- something very hard to do in a 2-story 3-bedroom house with 9 people living there. I had a favored nook to read in, and am surprised that no one else ever wanted to use it.

The only drawback to doing the daily hour-long commute to NYC as a young adult was the fact that it was only an hour. Delays and such were no problem for me because I could read longer.

My wife and I read in bed almost every night, sometimes for hours, before retiring. If the weather is just so, and there are no pressing issues to be addressed, we'll make a pot of coffee, a fire in the fireplace, and spend the entire day reading.

I just spent 3 months alone in Delaware. I brought 19 books, plus my eBooks, figuring my time was my own and I could always buy more books, or ship some back home and have my wife send others to me. It didn't happen. In 3 months, I didn't read more than 8 pages. I blame it on the fact that I had absolutely no one to talk to. My wife and I would call each other on the phone every day. Eventually we invested in web-cams and that made things easier, other than the choppy images, and the Max Headroom-like electronic stutter of our voices. The drawback was that I had limited options as to where I could be while on-line with my wife, and the optimum place was fairly uncomfortable. I read those 8 pages while sitting in an uncomfortable chair, occasionally glancing at the computer screen to see my wife engrossed in her reading.

Now, I'm back in Texas. I've read over 200 pages since my return, most of it at my in-law's place. My wife's father is a voracious reader -- 92 years old, reads 4 or 5 pages at a time, puts the books down, ponders, may return to the same book, or another one that he reads concurrently, reads 4 or 5 pages, puts the books down, maybe takes a nap, reads 4 or 5 more pages... Her mother is 83 and suffering the ravages of Alzheimers -- incapable of being able to get through Goodnight Moon, finds 100-piece jigsaw puzzles to be a major challange, but can do word-search puzzles for hours on end. So, when the chores are done, we sit and read (or word-search).

So, in isolation, I seem to lose all desire to read. It's much easier to let my mind go to mush watching TV, or spend way too much time here on LT, the latter of which I am eternally greatful for, because I'm sure I would have gone stark raving mad had I not had that outlet.

Oct 17, 2007, 12:54pm

WHL, that's interesting. I've never thought about someone who could only read with other people around.

For me, it depends on the people. My husband & I read every night before we go to sleep, and I often read while the tv, or WII, or other entertainment is on. But if I have to be around someone who cannot leave me alone, it's horrible. I have a friend who swears her marriage broke up partially because her ex-husband has a learning disability and never learned to enjoy reading, and was constantly interrupting her. I wouldn't last 6 months in such a marriage.

Edited: Oct 18, 2007, 3:26am

I can read either way, I'm USUALLY easily distracted (ADHD) but can really tune out when reading. I can deal with people talking, but loud, sharp and shrill voices I just can't read around.

I remember in college my girlfriend at the time asked what I was reading, it was Stephen King's wonderful Night Shift Collection (and why don't his touchstones work, is he not popular enough, heee heeee), so we snuggled together while I read to her aloud. It was a magical evening!

Oct 18, 2007, 3:45am

#3 - Me too, I've never really read with any1 else... Once I sat on the beach with a friend reading a book while she read a magazine, that was nice, good companionable silence apart from the waves, but it only lasted an hour or so, I'd love to have friends or family to read with!

Oct 18, 2007, 7:52am

Makes no difference to me. If I'm reading a book, I'm off into my own world, oblivious to anyone else, except someone shouting "dinner's ready".

Oct 18, 2007, 8:02am

If I'm reading for myself, I prefer to read alone so that I might become lost in the story. I certainly find it difficult to WRITE with anyone else in the room! My subconscious is too powerful, alas.


Have you ever read to a room full of children? You're not reading for yourself; you're reading for them. You have the chance to bring a story to a height of realism that they cannot yet achieve with their still-developing minds. And oh, toward the end of the book, the feeling of their anticipation beating at you while you pause to turn the page!

Oct 18, 2007, 8:34am

#12 - I'm with you. "Go fix your own whatever... can't you see I'm busy?!"
*grumble grumble*

Also, when my husband reads he always want to share snippets and I get so annoyed! Helloooo, I'm reading my book - I'm not interested in yours!

Oct 18, 2007, 12:02pm

I can and do read with my partner, but unfortunately his attention span is shorter than mine and I hate being interrupted.

A paraphrased typical conversation is:
Him: "OK, I'm done. Pay attention to me now."
Me: "That's nice. Shut the hell up and go away."

Must be love. ;)