Inspired by how happy you are that o.b.® tampons expand all around to custom-fit your body, Autostraddle’s “a custom fit” article series will tackle how to make all the other parts of your life expand/adjust all around to custom-fit your life/self. You’ve got your own place, you’ve got clothes that fit you just right, how to work exercising into your schedule and how to garden in containers. Congratulations! Today we basically just wanna talk about all the ways in which we bring reading into our lives.
I love to read. I don’t think I have to justify that sentiment to this audience — y’all are keeping the publishing industry alive, enjoy a little bit of biweekly Lez Liberty Lit in your life, and get really really really excited when we write about books. I think everyone here is on board the reading rainbow, and it rocks.
With technology giving us so many different options for interacting with texts, we can fit reading into our lives in all kinds of ways. So let’s take a look, it’s in a book (or a laptop, or a phone, or an audiotape) at all the colors of our own perfect Reading Rainbows, and then you can tell us all your preferences, tips and tricks.
This is the Way That We Read
I see you there, rolling your eyes. But let’s be honest: books cost money, and are sometimes hard to find, and sometimes you need to bring enough literature for a whole week of vacation without making your carry-on weigh 100lbs, so while timeless, a book might not always be the best fit!
Sometimes though, it absolutely must be a tangible book: Riese says that when she reads anything involving knowledge she may need, such as reference books or non-fiction, she must use “old-school books,” so she can flip through them later and find the highlighted parts. Malaika needs to read fiction in book form, because “the bright computer screen lights come between my imagination and whatever story I’m reading.”
And sometimes you might opt for a book because you’d like to own it – many people have personal libraries, and to be honest I’m always a little bit skeptical if someone doesn’t have a lot of books in their house/apartment/dorm room. Reading is special and some words are magic, and if you find a text that speaks to your soul you’re allowed to own it. It’s never a waste of money to buy a book, so don’t feel bad about it – these babies are first on this list for a reason!
A few summers ago I realized I’d barely read any books over vacation and I felt upset, wondering when I’d become such a “non-reader.” Then I realized that I was devouring hundreds of news stories, essays, poems, and personal narratives on my computer, and just because I wasn’t flipping through well-worn pages didn’t mean I wasn’t reading.
While the computer isn’t ideal for all reading — my mother refuses to read the news online because she doesn’t like to be reminded that print is in danger — the Internet offers an unparallelled array of options, and best of all (or worst of all, if it’s 3am and you should really go to sleep), no matter what you read, there’s always a link to something new. Plus, if you work a desk job or take notes in class on a laptop, you can totally read Autostraddle while pretending to be engaged in the task at hand. Not that we condone that or anything…
Lots of humans really enjoy the morning paper. You can curl up on the sofa with a cup of coffee and the Sunday paper and read for a few hours on the weekend, or scan the headlines on your lunch break or between classes or while the kids are napping. You can clip the pieces that are meaningful and either save them in a box or stick them in your scrapbook or mail them to your best friend. Newspapers have always overwhelmed me because of their size — I have small hands and a short torso and it just seems like the act of reading a broadsheet publication was not invented with me in mind. And yet! I still make it a point to pick up a newspaper when anything major happens, because I like the idea of holding on to history in a tangible way and a poor-quality print out of major news just does not compare to the front page of The New York Times, ya know?
Kindle / iPad / eReader
People love eReaders. The fact that it allows you to carry your very own lightweight digital library with you everywhere you go is incredible, especially for folks who love collecting books but have limited space to keep them. And not only is it perfect for vacation, it also lets you share digital copies amongst friends and check out books from the library! To be honest the more I think about it, the more I believe I could have a really beautiful relationship with an eReader.
Riese says it’s really easy to read a kindle on a train, and nice for trips when you’ve got more than one book and limited space. It also enables you to get books the moment they come out or without having to get up and go to a place. It’s also her preferred way to read magazine articles, by also using Instapaper which I’ll discuss now…
If you don’t already use the app Instapaper, I am about to change your world. Here’s the deal: you know all those articles Riese posts in TIRTIL? And how sometimes you can’t finish them over the weekend? With Instapaper, you can save the article as a PDF, store it on your computer, eReader, or iAnything, and read it whenever you want even if you don’t have access to the internet. This. Is. Life. Changing. I would honestly be a millionaire if I got paid $1 for every time I recommended Instapaper to someone, so I’ll leave it with this short endorsement, but I promise, Instapaper will make your world a better place. Go forth and PDF All The Long Reads, kids. You’re welcome.
When a friend told me that not only did she read full novels on her iPhone, but she actually liked doing it, I didn’t believe her. Eight months later I bought an iPhone and now I’m addicted to this method. Look, I love books. That’s a given. But sometimes you’re on the subway and it’s packed and you’re lucky to stay standing, never mind balance a book while you attempt to do so. This is where your phone wins everything! Also your phone allows you to read in the bathroom, even at work where you don’t have a stack of magazines just waiting for you, and that is a truly special thing.
When I asked everyone to tell me about their reading habits, Ali said the following:
I prefer real books, but because I drive a lot every day, I have a sizable collection of audiobooks that I listen to via my phone plugged into my car. I use Audible to get them at a discount and some titles with very good readers are The Night Circus, The Help, Happy Accidents (Jane Lynch!), Drift (Maddow!), and The Casual Vacancy.
While the act of reading is not technically involved, audiobooks are a great way to consume texts and are beloved by road trippers, vacationers and hammock lay-ers everywhere.
I refuse to believe the hype that the magazine industry will one day be obsolete, because everyone likes to flip through something light and pretty and glossy. Most magazines aren’t available in any other format, either, so the only way to consume them is to read the actual magazine. They’re great for airplanes, long car rides (if you can read without puking in a moving vehicle), doctor’s offices. Magazines are also the greatest source material for DIY crafts like collages and zines.
What are your favorite ways to read? How do you fit reading into your life? Did we leave out your favorite? Let’s all nerd out about reading in the comments!