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The Introvert’s Guide To Reading During the Holidays

November 24, 2015
If you read during the holidays, prepare to be interrupted. (image via wikimedia)

If you read during the holidays, prepare to be interrupted. (image via wikimedia)

The holiday season can be a frustrating time for introverts, especially for those of us who like to read.  Even if we introverts have time off from work, we often have to use that time for extra chores/errands, or traveling, or spending time at other people’s homes.That leaves little quiet time for reading, and that can be frustrating.

Holidays shouldn’t be frustrating.  We introverts need our quiet time, and here’s how to read during holidays without causing conflict or putting ourselves in danger:


Reading is almost essential for holiday 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….

a.  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.

b.  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.

c.  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.

d.  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, so here are a few tips to enjoying yourself without offending most reasonable people:

a.  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.

b.  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.  Let others get worked up into a political froth while you relax and read.

c.  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.


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

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

c.  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.

d.  Do NOT read while your kids are acting up. Its okay to read if somebody else’s kids are acting up.

e.  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 conversations about any other topic.  It’s better than talking about politics, religion, abortion, television, celebrities, and most sports, but NOT football.  Football is the best topic during the holidays, even if you’re reading a book.


Sometimes an extrovert stranger will want to talk about books. True, it’s nice to run into others who like to read, but I don’t like talking to people I don’t know and will never see again.  I reserve my social energy for my friends (the few I have), family, and co-workers.  The last time an extrovert started talking to me about books, I told him my “legal drugs” had just kicked in.

That ended the conversation.  Most people, even extroverts, will leave you alone if they think you’re on “legal” drugs.


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


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  1. These are great tips! And I also don’t like talking to people about books while i’m reading in public, I just want to read my book, that’s why i’m reading it.

  2. I find that my train commute to and from work is the perfect reading time during the busy periods!

  3. Thanks, these are very good tips, and I’ll use them as I’m going on a trip soon. I also hate talking to random people, unless they truly want to strike up an acquaintance. But usually they just want to talk to someone because they’re bored, and I object to being used like that. Another great tip comes from Jenna Marbles here, similar to the “legal drugs” one:

    And also this:

  4. The reading in public part is hilariously true.

  5. Hehe, this is great. I find that nobody needs me at all until I pick up a book. I have to read in secret, late at night or early mornings! Crazy!

  6. myfaketvboyfriend permalink

    I try to read on the train going and coming from work. If its a really good book I won’t because I have been known to miss my stop! Best place to read…on a cruise! Going on our traditional winter cruise soon and I have my kindle packed with free ebooks and i think my husband got me a real book for our anniversary! Theres nothing better than sitting on a beach or a cabins balcony with a frozen drink and (don’t judge me) a cigarette.

  7. Reblogged this on epalmerbrown and commented:
    Finally a holiday post I can get on board with.

  8. My husband gave me a copy of No Plot, No Problem one year for Christmas. It was pure torture to have the book sitting there calling to me the entire time everyone was opening presents. Books should be given as the last gift so you can immediately dive in without being rude. 😉

  9. I generally have a rule about reading and using headphones when I travel that I don’t if I’m moving around. Getting from point A to point B needs your attention. People will ask you questions, there might be unexpected conditions or announcements that you need to hear, plus it’s rude to tune people out that way. Let the stewardess get through her emergency tutorial before you tune out. Once you’re in a sitting position and all necessary information has been gleaned, then read and/or crank up your music. Find a seat by the window so you can snuggle your valuables between your body and the wall. It makes stealing from you nearly impossible, even if you doze off. When they bring your drinks, take the headphones off, smile and say thank you because service jobs are tough and they deserve to be treated by people. At family functions, if it gets to be too much, find a corner or hide in the bathroom for a bit with your book. I have an advantage in that I’m a night owl, so long after people are tucked in bed, I’m up reading. It makes getting up in the morning tough, but have your favorite source of caffeine available to help you function. (Most people use coffee – I use Mountain Dew Throwback. The sugar helps, too.) No reading at the table unless you’re alone. If you’re going to read while others watch sports, keep it light with magazine articles or blog posts on your phone so you aren’t so engrossed that people can’t speak to you. Holidays can be tough for introverts, but as long as you treat people with courtesy, they’ll leave you alone when you’re settled. Happy holidays, everyone.

  10. aubreysbooknook permalink

    Haha! This is hilarious! Thanks 🙂

  11. So much yes. Bravo.

  12. Very useful, thank you! Another handy tip: try to avoid reading very popular books, especially in places like train stations, if you really don’t want to talk. The moment someone sees you reading A Game of Thrones book, that’s it! Odds are, someone can’t wait to interrupt

  13. Alice deGrey permalink

    Nice blog! Those tips are quite useful and I’m looking forward to remembering them during Christmas holidays. 😀

    I tend to enjoy reading in public because 1) I usually glance up from my book every few minutes to check if my surroundings are still safe enough to read in and b) I like to think about what people might think of me and my reading choices. This can be nifty if you’re reading classics – or amusing if you’re reading a certain series of dirty romance novels…

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

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