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Reading Tips for the Christmas Holidays

December 2, 2013
christmas tree

Christmas is great, but BEWARE when you try to read in public! (Photo credit: mr_wahlee)

The Christmas holiday season can be a frustrating time when it comes to reading.  Even if we book lovers have time off from work, we often have to use that time for extra chores/errands (like buying presents), or traveling, or spending time at other people’s homes.That leaves little time for reading, and that can be frustrating.  The Christmas holidays shouldn’t be frustrating.   If we want to read in our spare moments during the holiday season, we should be able to.

And here’s how to read during the Christmas holidays without causing conflict or putting yourself in danger:


Reading is almost essential while traveling because traveling is really boring.  However, reading in public places such as airports or bus stations (or even the mall) can be risky because you leave yourself vulnerable to getting conked on the head or having your stuff stolen (or both).  It’s easy for evil-doers to sneak up on you while you’re reading in public, so if you absolutely HAVE to read in public….

1. Put your back up against a barrier like a wall or window.  Lean against a wall if you’re standing.  Sit in a chair that’s against a wall or a window.  This way, nobody will sneak up on you.

2. Put your stuff behind your feet if you can’t hold all of it.  Keep your legs connected to your possessions so that you’ll feel them if somebody tries to swipe your stuff accidentally.

3. Look up while you’re reading and make eye contact.  Give the nod of acknowledgement and then continue reading safely.  Even when you’re reading, you need to be aware of your surroundings.  If you’re not aware, at least act like you’re aware.

4. Don’t read while you’re walking.  You can trip or walk into other people (that usually ticks them off), or you might also get conked on the head.


There’s a stigma attached to reading in public or at social gatherings.  It’s okay to watch television, listen to music, or get drunk (to a certain degree), but people will look at you weird if you read.  With smart phones, it’s a little easier to get away with it, but you still have to do so in small (or short) doses or else others will think that you’re a tech tool. Normally, I don’t mind if others think I’m a tool, but during the holidays, I try to get along with others, especially my family.

A lot of people don’t care if you read at a gathering, but others do.  If you’re with people who make snide comments about your reading or give you dirty looks (and you care about what they think), here are a few tips to enjoying yourself without offending anybody (by “anybody,” I mean “most reasonable people”).

1. Read while others are watching TV. People watching TV usually don’t care if somebody else is reading, but be ready to get talked to during commercials.

2. Read if others start talking about politics.  If the discussion gets heated, say you’re looking up information on your phone, then read the book of your choice, and if anybody asks, say you got sidetracked.  Let others get worked up into a political froth, and you can enjoy the book of your choosing.

3. Read in an isolated location.  Nobody can disturb you or complain about you if they can’t see you.  Tell others you need to go out for a smoke (even if you don’t smoke), and they’ll leave you alone unless they smoke.  Then you might have to put up with talking AND smoking, so be careful.


1. Do NOT read when guests/family arrive or leave.

2. Do NOT read at the meal table while others are eating.

3. Do NOT read while the host is doing work that you can help out with.  Help out the host (unless you are the host, but if you’re the host then you probably won’t have time to read).  If you help out with the holiday chores, then you have the right to read later.

4. Do NOT read while your kids are acting up.

5. Do NOT read while opening presents.  If somebody gives you a book, then you may read it while others are opening gifts.


Sometimes reading in public or at a gathering can lead to a discussion about books.  That in itself is a great reason to read at a gathering.  Most conversations are meaningless (which is okay). But a conversation about books is almost always better than any other topic.  It’s better than talking about politics, religion, abortion, television, celebrities, and most sports.  The only thing I’d rather talk about than books is football.


A problem is sometimes a weird stranger will want to talk about books. True, I might be a weird stranger to people I don’t know, but I don’t start conversations about books with people I don’t know.  The last time a weird stranger started talking to me about books (I’m not sure the guy was weird or not, but I wasn’t in the best mood because I was in the airport), I told him my “legal drugs” had just kicked in so I wasn’t sure if my book was good or not.

That ended the conversation.  If you state that your legal drugs have just kicked in, people will leave you alone (unless they want to conk you on the head and steal your stuff).  This might also apply to illegal drugs too, but I’ll never admit that I took illegal drugs in public (because I never take illegal drugs).


These rules work for me, but they might not work for you.  What tips do you have for reading during the Christmas holidays (or any holidays or any time you’re in public)?

  1. I snarl and hiss between my teeth for any stupid (euphemism for all) distractions. Duck language works I say.

  2. I always have a book with me if I know I’m going to be stuck in a waiting room or queue. While reading in the queue at the bank or post office I’ve had numerous people tell me they wished they’d thought of that.

    Luckily my family all know I’m a reader, so I can get away with reading at family gatherings. On the other hand, I have so much fun with my in-laws I don’t want to read when I’m around them.

  3. I read from my Kindle at lunch. One day someone asked me what I was reading. I said the Bible (I was in the middle of religious studies). That was the end of the conversation.

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