The Do’s And Don’ts Of Reading On A Plane
Reading on an airplane shouldn’t be that difficult.
You sit down, open a book, flip on your overhead light, and quietly read for a couple of hours while your flight is in transit. So simple, right?
Yet, things always seem to get complicated. Or, maybe it’s just me. Maybe I make reading on a plane complicated.
There’s a lot to think about, isn’t there? You have so many factors to consider if you want to make your plane-reading experience pleasant.
Don’t be an over-the-shoulder reader.
Look, if you want to ask me what I’m reading, when I’m not actually focused on reading, then go for it. But don’t sit right next to me and read over my shoulder. If this ever happens to you, here’s my suggestion: Point to a passage and ask your neighbor,”So what do you think the author was trying to say in this sentence?” Maybe they’ll get the not-so-subtle hint. [Related: Bookish Pet Peeve #2]
Do keep your laptop screen guarded.
You’ve got to play defense against the over-the-shoulder reader. I’ve heard stories of people who were flying somewhere for legal matters and looked down at their neighbor’s laptop screen only to see their own name. The person seated next to them was an attorney for the other side. Whoops!
Do read something light.
Read something light, both literally and figuratively. Infinite Jest on a plane? Are you really doing that? That thing’s heavy enough to ground a cargo plane. And remember that you’re riding inside a flying piece of metal at 500 miles an hour. You probably want to avoid reading anything about people who die while riding inside flying pieces of metal that go 500 miles an hour.
Don’t read something creepy.
Creepy plane reading might include Lolita, Mein Kampf, and The Life and Times of Jeffrey Dahmer.
Do think about your books before the trip.
This is just a common courtesy–to yourself. Where are you going? How long will you be there? How long will your flight be? A flight from New York to Australia would certainly call for different reading selections than a flight from New York to Boston.
Don’t rely on the airport bookstore for decent books.
This is what happens when you don’t abide by the above guideline and plan ahead. You end up buying a Danielle Steel best-seller and everybody loses, everyone except for Danielle Steele I suppose.
Do keep your books, and your arms and hands and legs, inside your own little personal space while reading.
Imagine that your seat was boxed in by deadly lasers. If your book touches the lasers, it gets cut in half. If your arm touches the lasers, it gets cut in half. Keep your book inside the lasers so you don’t lose a limb. I’m just trying to help you here.
Don’t take your books in the airplane’s restroom.
The only thing worse than reading in a public restroom (don’t act like you haven’t done it) is reading in a public restroom on a plane. Nothing communicates “I’m gonna be here awhile” to your fellow passengers quite like walking down the aisle toward the John with The Grapes of Wrath in hand.
Do watch your volume if you’re reading out loud to your kid.
Yeah, Johnny loves hearing about the adventures of Pooh and Tigger. But the dozen people immediately surrounding you and Johnny? Not so much. Keep it soft, please.
Don’t talk to someone who’s reading unless it’s absolutely necessary.
You know one thing readers hate? It’s when complete strangers break our train of thought while reading. “What’cha reading, there?” she says. “The Hunger Games,” you say. “Oh, how interesting. Let me tell you about the time I didn’t eat for 3 days. I was really hungry!” No. Please, no. Don’t do this to a reader.
So if you’re traveling this holiday season, these guidelines will hopefully make your reading experience on an airplane much more bearable.
If not, I apologize. But just remember that plane rides are temporary. Reading is for life.