The Pursuit of Laziness

Since I was a kid, I’ve been looking for the perfect way to read in bed. The ideal position would involve no sustained muscle effort, so I could just let my eyes drift shut as I read, without the book falling shut or my hand slipping or anything.  One way is to sit up against something and hold the book on your lap, but that’s not great for falling asleep.  So I usually end up reading on my side.

The problem is, you have to hold the book to see both pages, and in either case, you’re using some muscles to hold it where it is.

This has worked for most of my life, but it’s still not that ultimate relaxation.

However, I recently got a Kindle.  I was intending to use it mainly as a mobile web browser, but I’ve surprised myself by using it to read an awful lot.  And, with apologies to all the bibliophiles out there, I find the ergonomics better than a paperback.  When snacking and reading, I can lay it flat on a table without the use of a book weight to hold it opened, and when lying in bed, I don’t have to keep moving it to read.

But it’s not perfect.  There’s no way to hold it with a finger on the ‘next page’ buttons that doesn’t require a few muscles to hold it upright:

Either I work to hold my hand off the bed, or I awkwardly curl my fingers around it.  Either way, it tips over if I relax my arm, even if it’s leaning against a pillow, and I’m startled awake by this:

I started to wonder if I could do even better.  I got out of bed one night, went to the closet, and got a steel coat hanger and some pliers.  After a few minutes of twisting, I created this:

First of all, it holds the Kindle upright …

And second, it lets me lie there motionless, and turn the pages with just a tiny twitch of my thumb:

Finally, after decades of reading in bed, I have reached that stage of perfect relaxation.

376 replies on “The Pursuit of Laziness”

  1. I solved this by getting the Kindle Case….it opens in a ‘V’ and supports itself when I’m reading in bed on my side. It only allows me to lay on my right side, though.

    Another great lazy tip is I invert my glasses (sunglasses or reading glasses) on the table with the lenses away from me, and prop the Kindle on them to give it an incline. I do this mostly at lunchtime, as it allows me to eat and read at the same time. Depending on the glasses, you put the base on bends for your ears and it quite snugly holds the Kindle in place.

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  2. you’re a huge nerd, you know? (but that’s cute.)
    My boyfriend was just like “how can you put so much energy in an avoidable situation? just sit in the bed!”
    but I understand what you mean. it’s like an urge inside you to master this tricky situation.

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  3. The Greeks and Romans solved this problem ages ago: scrolls and scroll-holding slaves! Anybody up for conquering Canada next month and enslaving their peeps?

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  4. ha ha ha It’s funny but is a really good idea!!Yo sigo prefiriendo los libros a la antigüita, habrá que ver cual opción tiene menos impacto en el medio ambiente, el uso del papel o el desecho de baterias 🙂

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  5. I don’t think laying around in bed reading is always lazy. I have read a lot of informational books in bed. These are great additions to the Kindle.

    I get a sore neck a lot sitting up in bed trying to read. Recliner works better if I can stay awake.

    Rick

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  6. You should try myvu personal media viewer (www.myvu.com). Connect it to your iPod touch or Nokia N95 and enjoy hadsfree reading. Far from perfect, but a concept I believe should interest you.

    @BjarneBu

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  7. |- The Art of Reading whilst Relaxing In Bed, by TheCoreMan -|

    Chapter I – History of reading & relaxing in ancient times
    Trying to read a book (1) while trying to fall asleep (on a bed, couch, etc.) was a problem that troubled the human race for ages.

    In the 3rd millennium BC, books were made of clay tablets, which made them impossible to use as pre-naptime entertainment for several reasons –
    1. Their weight was high, and required too much muscle extortion to hold comfortably.
    2. They weren’t pages but tablets, which made them difficult to hold enough of.
    3. Their irregular shape.

    In Roman times, Wax-coated Wooden tablets were used upon which they could write and erase by using a stylus. One end of the stylus was pointed, and the other was spherical. Usually these tablets were used for everyday purposes (accounting, notes) and for teaching writing to children, according to the methods discussed by Quintilian in his Institutio Oratoria X Chapter 3. Several of these tablets could be assembled in a form similar to a codex. Also the etymology of the word codex (block of wood) suggest that it may have developed from wooden wax tablets.

    1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Books

    You see where this is going, don’t you? Let me give you a hint.

    – Summer Glau

    P.S. – Yo mama’s fat.

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  8. I actually did the exact same thing with an actual book as a kid, looked almost exactly the same. Took a coat hangar, and rigged it to hold a book open in bed. The only issue initially was the effort to turn pages, and the occasional clattering of a book/coat hangar contraption against at 3 am long after im asleep.

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  9. I get very carried away (read: sensory disconnect with the real world) when reading and actually managed to injure my right elbow from reading in the same position for so long. Of course, now I make sure to read in different positions, but this is a great idea and I think I will save up for a Kindle now.

    Unrelated, I’m an engineering student, Firefly fan, and ex-ballet dancer. I think we would really get along…

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  10. I have never commented on xkcd or the blog,
    but must say that your brain pattern is amazing.
    Specifically, in the sense that I recognize it in myself.

    I do not mean to offend, but is it possible that you
    are slightly autistic? The manner in which you think,
    really resembles the systematic, albeit rather overfocused
    zealousness with which an autistic person reasons,
    and goes rigorously from point to point in a routine,
    until it is properly executed.

    Your humour is a special one, too.
    Keep it up!

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  11. An acquintance of mine solved this problem of reading in bed by reading Harlequin romances, right pages only! I’ve tried this too, only rarely do you have to flip the book to read the left pages, usually the story flows along fine. And you finish your book twice as fast! Won’t work for Terry Prachett though.

    I once saw an Alexandre Dumas book where you could read all the right site pages, then flip the book and continue, because all the left side pages were printed upside-down.

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  12. Was curious about the book in the background, so I did a corrective shear in the GIMP to make it more readable. Clearly said “??? girls and twilight”. Google told me that the ??? was “Odd”.

    Too much free time, I know.

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  13. As a kid I used to sleep beneath a shelf. I once created a sellotape contraption between two supports for suspending books above my head. Needless to say page turning was far less convenient than this wireframe but, back then, it was the “kindling” that made firewood.

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  14. i looked at your coat-hanger device, and I own a similar device to be used with actual books. I bought one when I visited Powell’s Book Store in Portland, and it only cost a dollar. They’re Supercool! Get one @ a bookstore!

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  15. I tried to explain this to the other teachers I work with, because it’s hilarious and perfect! They were not as impressed…

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  16. BRAVO! I did the same sort of thing with an iPod Touch, on which Amaon’s Kindle program runs flawlessly. So, I’m cheap as well as being lazy!

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  17. genius. pure genius. I’ve always wanted to get into the “absurdly specialized homemade gadgets” industry.

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  18. You, Sir – are a FUCKING GENIUS.

    You have combined several of my midnight ponderings, my back pain this afternoon from having sat up last night reading, and my unabated joy since childhood of improvising useful tools out of coat-hangers (with pliers), into one Perfect Thing.

    Now I have to buy a Kindle.

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  19. I am too cheap to get a Kindle. And I won’t until it allows downloads from my public library.

    What I do is the ultimate of laziness and cheapness: my local library has audio books that can be downloaded into an mp3 player (and one of their vendors does support iPods and Zunes, I just happen to use an iRiver). The same vendors also have books in pdf form for download (just don’t know if it is supported by Kindle). The DRM system disables use after three weeks.

    So all I have to do is lie in bed with my headphones and listen to the book. No turning pages.

    Though occasionally I fall asleep.

    That said, not every book is on Kindle. I need to go now and read some advanced calculus in relation to statistics, for fun.

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  20. I’d buy one. That’s brilliant. I suppose I could just make one… but… see, I’m actually rather lazy. 🙂

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  21. I can’t believe someone else has had the same problem, from the babysitters club, (lol), to now, I’ve always had that problem. Too bad the kindle is like wayyyyyyy out of my budget, perhaps I’ll just have to McGiver my own book holder, thanks for the idea kiddo 😉

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  22. I actually did the exact same thing with an actual book as a kid, looked almost exactly the same. Took a coat hangar, and rigged it to hold a book open in bed. The only issue initially was the effort to turn pages, and the occasional clattering of a book/coat hangar contraption against at 3 am long after im asleep.

    Like

  23. DANG!!! I am 13 years old and the notion of solving the inherent problems of reading in bed for a prolonged period of time has ALWAYS befuddled and perplexed me! I can totally relate to this post! (I hope those italics worked!)

    Like

  24. i looked at your coat-hanger device, and I own a similar device to be used with actual books. I bought one when I visited Powell’s Book Store in Portland, and it only cost a dollar. They’re Supercool! Get one @ a bookstore!

    Like

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