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Introvert Problems: Reading During the Holidays

December 10, 2018

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.  All the activity 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….

  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.  If you stare too much at your phone, everybody else will think you’re rude.

Normally, I don’t mind if others think I’m rude, but I try to get along with others during the holidays, especially my family, so here are a few tips to enjoying yourself without offending 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.  Let others get worked up into a political froth while you relax and read.
  3.  Read in an isolated location (if possible).  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. Its okay to read if somebody else’s 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.


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?

For more about introverts, read Introvert Problems: I’m Addicted To Solitude.

  1. L.Peninger permalink

    I have come to the conclusion that my introvert behavior will keep people away. And that is ok.
    I will read and put my headphones in and tune everyone out.
    I’m sorry that is just me.

    • Reading with headphones on should be a clear nonverbal signal.

      But somebody might still ask you what you’re reading… or what you’re listening to.

      • L.Peninger permalink

        Maybe it is a fear of having a normally conversations with another person. After I got married I did no want to talk to anyone else. Non verbal signals don’t work I spend more time taking them out than reading.

  2. Silence. I must have silence. I could never concentrate on a book if a heated political debate were starting up around me.

  3. I read gift books on Christmas day when I was a boy, and that was accepted at my introverted grandfather’s house. I married an introvert, but too much holiday reading and people avoidance get interpreted as a rejection of jolly Christmas fun. I usually grit my teeth and soldier on while looking forward to the relative calm of the day after Christmas.

  4. I’ve tried and tried to read in public. The words go in one ear and out the other because the distactions of the enviroment itself plus my brain not being able to completely focus. I need to go into another room or announce that I am reading so, do not disturb! That only works with family who know me though.

  5. Whenever I try to read during a family gathering, I’m always disturbed in about 5 minutes, because I’m supposed to go talk to cousins I’ve met like, once, whereas I don’t want to talk to anyone. All I want to do is sit in a quiet corner, ignore everyone else and read. Being an introvert is really difficult when everyone around you isn’t one.
    Your tips sound good and I will definitely try them out next time!

    Fellow bookworms, here’s my blog:

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