National Read a Book Day usually involves persuading children to read a fiction book in the hope they will be inspired to become lifelong readers. But what about grown-ups?
In the modern world we are all lifelong readers whether for pleasure or for information, we consume a vast number of words on a daily basis. For many, this will be via smartphones, tablets, laptops or desktops. There is a plethora of advice on how to avoid injury from using technology, but have you ever thought about the possibility of being injured from reading a book? Even a quick Google search will turn up with, mostly, ironic tales of injuries incurred whilst book reading – often focusing on the ridiculous positions people may find themselves in because they are so engrossed in a story. Have a look at this video from Epic Reads: https://www.epicreads.com/blog/book-nerd-problems-reading-injuries/ – do you recognise yourself here?
Yet this problem was taken very seriously in the nineteenth century by the Duke de Aumale who had the most amazing reading chairs in his library at the Chateau de Chantilly, France, https://chateaudechantilly.fr/en/chateau/the-reading-room/ . They resemble an early laptop with a sloping easel, which could be pulled over your lap, once seated, to rest your heavy tome upon. A modern version of these chairs would be perfect for hardback lovers, with their supportive structures, comfortable padding and footstool.
How to avoid injury when reading
If like our receptionists, Julia and Sally, you are an avid reader, or you are someone who reads from large, weighty books for a living, here are our top tips to avoid, the very real prospect of, injury.
Take regular breaks
Just like reading from a phone or tablet, you need to take regular breaks to avoid putting too much stress on your neck (and hands if holding your book). Get up and move around for a minute or two.
Be conscious of your posture
There is a good reason there were reading chairs in libraries. Reading in bed can cause neck pain, so if this is your preferred reading location consider providing a bit of support for your shoulders when sitting up in bed. And if you’re like my kids and read front down lying on your bed – watch the chin jut! The top of the neck into the base of the skull will really take the pressure. So, whatever the position – take regular breaks.
Use a table or reading easel to bear the weight of heavy books
If you choose not to – make sure you take regular breaks. Maybe set an alarm on your phone or ask your watch to give you a nudge every 20 minutes, or just take a break after each chapter (unless you are reading Ulysees, of course).
Use bags or trolleys
If your work involves carrying heavy books around, or you’ve overindulged at the bookshop/library, balance the books in 2 bags (one in each hand) but expect the shoulders to ache if they’re really heavy. Or more simply and sensibly – use a trolley bag or briefcase-on-wheels.
Bibliophiles of Lymington will be as thrilled as we are that a new independent bookshop, The Imaginarium, is opening soon in Angel Courtyard, next door to Southern Stationery.
Most importantly, don’t let pain or discomfort prevent you from enjoying a good book. We won’t laugh at your injuries – we’ve all been there!