There (likely) is no single best reading position

Enough about sex positions. Has anyone discovered a reading position which doesn’t get uncomfortable after five minutes?

A comment on a posting about reading positions reminded me of something I was was thinking about: Perhaps there is no single best reading position.

Thinking about it, reading is pretty … un-natural. You sit still for a long time, moving only your eyes and hands, while the rest of the body stays still. Often for much longer periods of time than children sit (mostly) still in school, adults doing office work, heck even people playing computer games.

And it’s pretty hard for the body to be in one position for a very long time. Even in sleep, we change positions frequently. Like the old adage says: Too much of anything is poison.

I tried to counter it with reading in really relaxing positions. But thing is, you still need to hold some muscles in constant tension (besides the ones for, uh, avoiding messiness). Perhaps that an intelligent mattress could help, but that’s likely rather far off.

So, perhaps the solution to finding the best reading position is to change positions occasionally (e.g., once every hour or so). This requires you to either having the text mobile (there’s technology for it, besides tablets or ebook readers) or having it available at the new position.

And I think this is one of those situations for which digital readers are advantageous. They could remind me to change position. Either a gentle remark after a specific time (which would still kill immersion when reading fiction), of after a chapter (with the information that the next chapter is available at another reading “station” (e.g. desk, bed, comfy chair, standing desk, etc.).

Could work.


  1. What do you think about a balance (and possibly – a correlation) between relaxed pose/physical activity and consuming information/creative thinking?

  2. Not sure — on the one hand, it might be better to be relaxed. Then again, are you relaxed when the stakes are high or the story is really engaging? Then again, IIRC good mood facilitates divergent thinking, while convergent thinking is easier in a bad mood.

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