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 thoughts on “The Pursuit of Laziness

  1. The very first thing I thought when I saw this was that, apparently, a single gene determines whether or not your thumb has a bend in it. So when I saw your thumb, I thought: he has the ‘hitch-hiker’ thumb, like me! It was a heartwarming moment.

    And then I realized grade 9 science had made me insane.

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  2. lol .. seriously i have also been thinking of finding a better way to read which does not involve any muscle activity at all ..
    till now i have also been reading on my side which is really not comforting at all .
    i hope kindle releases in my country soon ..

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  3. “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. ”

    ME TOO!!! 😛 that’s one of the reasons I LOVE xkcd, it’s a copy of… ME!

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  4. You’re a legend. Straight up.
    The “reading in bed” thing is the only reason i would ever own a kindle, and this little mod just made Amazon a high contender for the receiver of my next wage packet.

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  5. Erganomically brilliant! I love reading in bed, and you’re right, it’s hard to get comfy! You should submit this idea to MAKE magazine, I’m sure they’d be interested!

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  6. Oh my God!

    I didn’t think anybody else had this problem of reading in bed! I counted 34 here before I gave up.

    I think comedians (and apparently nerdy blogger) are just people who say things that most people think are uncommon and out of context, but actually make a large number of people sigh with relief.

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  7. I have had this problem for SO LONG. Thank you, thank you a thousand times, for the solution.

    (I would write the 1000x in more complex terms, but I am a scummy arts-degree man who gave up on his scientific heritage. I am ashamed 😦 )

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  8. There’s also the ‘bed spectacles’ that use a prism to let you watch tv or read lying down. As seen in ‘The Bucket List’

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  9. I pride myself with having the body of an avid reader, but the comfort level would be worth giving it up. Awesome!

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  10. Pingback: The Art and Science of Reading in Bed « Raven

  11. can forward you a lot of my cervical spondylosis patients with bed reading complains……..
    you will drive physiotherapists jobless…
    be my guest!

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  12. now what you need is a 3g modem wired directly to your brain and tuned into the Whispernet – you might even be able to turn the pages with a thought…

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  13. Why make your own contraption or lug around some piece of hardware bigger than your Kindle? The Kindle 2 is minimalist beauty and there is only one accessory that matches that. I found the Cyncronix Kindle Stand on Amazon that stays on the Kindle all the time, folded flat when you don’t need it and folded out when you need the Kindle to stand at just the right angle. I love it, it’s thin, flat, and light, and you notice it only when you need it!
    http://www.amazon.com/Cyncronix-For-Kindle-KSA-6-Stand/dp/B0030E8BT0/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1261461452&sr=8-1

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  14. how dorky does it make me if I can tell you’re reading theif of time on that kindle? great idea though! Now to save up money for that kindle…

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  15. Now if only you could find a solution for people whose income will only allow for books $5 or less (and certainly not a Kindle). If those awful Snuggie monstrosities can sell, so can a bed-reader-friendly book holder.

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  16. Life gets even easier than this. I own a cheap netbook that allows me to rotate the screen either by 90 degrees or 180 degrees so I can lie on my left or right side. The netbook itself is Do you have e-mail set up on your iPod touch yet? , and paired with a wireless Bluetooth mouse, my arm can be positioned anywhere and a click of a button changes the pages!!

    Thank you kindle pc app!!! I still prefer my kindle for daytime reading, but in bed, the netbook rules.

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  17. A truly elegant Kindle stand is available now on Amazon from Cyncronix. You just stick it to the back of the Kindle and leave it there. To prop up the kindle one folds the stand out and engages it for the desired reading angle. It works fine in bed too. The beauty is that folding the Cyncronix stand flat takes it completely out of the way to slide the kindle in a case or holder or use it like it had no stand. No more lugging around a cumbersome metal or plastic contraption.

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  18. This did always bother me with print books…

    I’d also like to point out that they make these now, and they cost $25-$30. I love that you came up with this plan out of a coat hanger.

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  19. nice idea, ive been toying with some kind of overhead wall mount stand thing for years but never actually made it. i also noticed the discworld novel in the pic… nice choice 🙂

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  20. In all seriousness… will pay for one of those… I am so sick of trying to read my Kindle and position 40 other pillows around my arms to try and keep my arm comfortable and in “Next Page” button reach so I could also fall asleep rather easily if and when needed… market your invention so I can haz one 😥

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  21. Now if only I could read magazines easier in bed… (i love me some game informer)

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  22. I love your stand! The easy paging from behind had me laughing for 10 minutes. I would buy one too. But I also have a different problem. I like to lounge sitting the long way on a couch with pillow behind my back. I can prop the kindle on my lap but there are two problems. One is the effort of keeping it near vertical bothers my wrist. And the other is the cat who is used to laying on my lap when I lounge that way is totally incompatible with reading the Kindle there. I would like to be able to both and get rid of the need to hold the Kindle at the angle I need. If I wasn’t farsighted I would consider converting a neck-strung magnifier to a suspended Kindle holder or maybe making a Kindle vest with a front flip-out shelf. If VR Kindle glasses existed that would work too. Somebody invent those OK?

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  23. When I saw this I wanted to buy it. Since it wasn’t marketed, I had my darling hubby make me one out of a very sturdy wire hanger. (he practiced on a thin one first). It has brought more happiness and is more used than any expensive jewelry he’s gotten for me. Thank you for sharing… may God reward you a thousand fold.

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  24. if you have a droid, try aldiko, you can change the pages using the volume on the side and its generally easy to hold, however if you want to put an ebook on it without downloading it from the market you have to manually add the entry to the sqlite3 database (or you know…make a script…i wonder if i could do that with python >.> ive been working on it in php…but i dont feel like upgrading to php 5.3 for the sqlite3 support…but python has sqlite3 support…)…i think i trailed off a bit there…anyhow the kindles look nice, and they are big, but i like my aldiko on droid, its smaller but that makes it more mobile i have already read about 1/4 of books by hp lovecraft on it.

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  25. I wanted to thank you for this excellent write up. I surely liked every little bit of it. I have you bookmarked and will be coming back.

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  26. Pingback: Catch up on Personal Reading Over the Summer | GearFire - Tips for Students

  27. Pingback: Fiction Writers Review » Blog Archive » What’s your favorite position in bed?

  28. This is possibly the most difficult dilemma I have encountered in my life so far.

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  30. I am honored to to know that I share some of the same problems as you. By the way, you could probably make a small fortune if you started selling those.

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  31. None of the production stands have that handy little doohickey that changes the page for you with almost zero effort. As blogger showed – the slightest flick of the thumb from *behind* the reader turns the page. I gotta make this thing!

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  32. This explanation of why the Kindle is useful has haunted me since I first read it. I have refused to move from books, and every time someone tells me about how great the Kindle is, it just sounds pathetic. But this. This makes me wonder…what if….

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  33. Pingback: Kindle coat hangar holder | Chris Dimpfl

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