For The Love of Reading

April 30, 2015

desperate times call for desperate measures
The wanderings of a mind that is wont to ponder. Check out past Between Bookends posts here!

book monster [/bʊk ˈmɒnstə/]
someone who has a voracious appetite for books and is best known for being a serial reader, often consuming multiple books at a time

I think I can safely say that I (along with almost everyone who's part of the book blogging community) am and have always been a book monster.

I read my first book when I was around 3; it was a dictionary. I graduated to Famous Fives in first grade, at the same time when we were having hour long 'reading periods' at school, during which we were given Ladybird Read It Yourself books. Try imagining reading a 10 page book in under 5 minutes and simply staring at the teacher for the next 55 (or until someone else finished a book and you could trade, which would take ages). It was so so bad.

Perfecting the art of subterfuge becomes a necessity when one follows the book monster lifestyle. There are parents who want you to go to bed right when the MC is teleported by his mortal enemy to the middle of a graveyard, teachers who enter class when the girl's just met the guy and you really need to know what happens next, or siblings who won't allow you to read the latest Harry Potter book just because they 'got it first'.

Needless to say, these and other such potentially catastrophic situations through the years have made me a master of the art, and I thought it would be interesting to document my methods.


When we were young, my sister and I shared a bunk bed, which was pushed right against the wall next the the doorway to our room. Since the room was at the end of a long corridor, our parents always had a lamp on in the passageway. The top bunk was mine, and some of the light from the corridor would fall on the foot of the bed.
reading under covers torch
the torch is incorrect. but you get the point
Aaand, yes, you guessed right. I'd switch positions so my head was the the foot of the bed, and read using the dim light. If I heard someone coming, the book would go under the pillow, and I'd snuggle into my blanket little the little darling I was.


Disclaimer: No overt lies were used in the con. And fyi I was a straight A student. Just saying.

Unlike my old school, the school I studied in in India had a pretty cool rule - there wasn't any limit to the number of books you could check out in a week (at the previous school it was one book per week), but you could only check out one book for a day. Soon after joining, I became the librarian's pet, and from then on, it was pretty smooth sailing as far as library books and I were concerned. I managed to skirt around the 'one book a day' rule, and could check out multiple books a day, often borrowing up to 3 books in a single day. The librarian never really understood how I'd manage to read so fast.

I had a few tricks up my sleeve. In between classes while waiting for the next teacher, during free periods, and just about any other minute when there wasn't a teacher in the classroom, I was reading. But that wasn't all.

texting and reading in class under desk
This was me from 7th grade through 12th. Except with a book.
As an aside, I cannot believe WikiHow has a post on how to text in class :o
Every now and then, when I simply could not concentrate in class either because it was boring or because I was in a crucial part in the story, I'd put my head down on the desk, like I had a headache and had to sleep it off. Under the desk, I'd have the book open.

And I would read.


This is a very complicated maneuver that requires a lot of practice to hone. I've only ever tried it with a e-reading device. And it involves a combination of other covert techniques which can be used by themselves too.

I used to use this a lot when my sister and I shared a room. It requires a thick blanket regardless of the weather (using thick blankets in the Chennai heat is pure torture), which you need to tuck half over your face, so that the only uncovered parts are one eye and half your forehead. One hand is used to hold the blanket tautly in position. Then, the ebook is placed in front of the eye under the blanket at a comfortable distance, so that one eye sees the book, and the other eye can be used to observe the surroundings and keep an eye out for potential dangers. If you do hear/see anything threatening, all you have to do is close your eyes and place the device flat over the bed, and to the casual observer (or not so casual, if you're good at faking sleep), you're going to appear to be peacefully dreaming.

Another thing I used in combination with this (and also by itself), was adjust my dresser's mirror in such a way that while lying down on my bed, I'd be able to see what was going on outside my room, clear through to the hall.


Since this is a pretty unimaginative method, with high risks of getting caught, I've used only one time, when I was incredibly desperate. It was the day Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows was published. My sister got the book from her friend (I've always wondered how the friend could just lend the book without reading it first) and insisted on hogging on it all by herself. I wasn't allowed to touch it even when she was taking breaks from reading. She finished it in a single day, and no matter how much I begged, she refused to allow me to read it the next day, but said she was going to return it to her friend the very next day.

So what did I do?

I'd already finished about one-third of the book by reading it in snatches (pfft you thought her 'no reading even when I'm not reading' rule would stop me?), so I really had only one option. I made sure all the bedroom doors were closed first, then went out to the hall (I couldn't read in my room since I was sharing it with my sister), took a seat right next to the light switch, and started reading. Every time I heard a creak, I'd snap the light off, and bound silently to my room. Five minutes later, I'd be out again. And so I spent the night. It took me about 4 hours, but I finally finished.

I don't believe I ever been as smug as I was the next morning, when my sister looked at me expectantly, thinking I'd ask her again, but all I did was shrug dismissively and say I didn't care.

What desperate things have YOU done for the love of reading? Let's share strategies in the comments! xD