How to Read an e-Book

In days not too long past, proper lighting and posture were the keys to enjoyable and prolonged reading comfort. Now, things have changed.

Child reading by candle light. Deutsche Fotothek‎ [CC-BY-SA-3.0-de (], via Wikimedia Commons
When reading by candle light, you placed your reading material in close proximity to the candle, and placed your chair in as comfortable a position as could be managed.

Electric lighting, by nature of its enhanced luminosity, gives the reader greater flexibility. I well remember the days when studying required the reading of physical books, not electronic displays, and so students were routinely counseled to set up a study environment with a flat desk and a study lamp off to the left side to avoid casting shadows on the reading material.

Body posture was a critical complement to this system. Slouching was as strongly discouraged then as it is today.

Man reading at his desk. By A. L. Leroy (Details of artist on Google Art Project) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.
However, with self-lit electronic displays, all the former concerns about lighting and posture have become irrelevant. Or so it seems.

In many ways children make ideal subjects for scientific observation. If caught young enough, they have not yet learned the “proper” ways of acting, or sitting. Therefore I am convinced that if left to their own innocent, non-self-aware devices they will instinctively find the most energy efficient and bodily pleasing ways to read, as long as lighting is not a concern. For popular devices such as iPad, Kindle Fire and Nabi, lighting is never an issue. The screen glows with light, sharply contrasting with the dark words of print on electronic books, those so-called “e-books.”

The subject in this photo essay was approximately six years old, freshly out of a bath, in her PJs and pushing her bed time by some very determined reading. In these photos she was reading about dinosaurs, using Booksy on an iPad. 

As the following photos demonstrate, gravity itself seems not to impede elementary school  reading.

The subject first assumed a standard kid reading posture, possible only for pint-sized kids. Neck support is important.


The inverted standard kid position. Apparently forehead support is important too.









Since kids are ever inventive, sometimes they spice things up with variations on a theme.

SnapShot(18) crop
90° rotated, inverted kid reading position.
Reach Out and Touch Someone










When engaged in challenging reading, increasing blood flow to the brain is important. Apparently the easiest way to do that is to raise the body’s center of gravity above the heart, as the following photo shows.

The Rabbit Ears reading position.


This observation demonstrates that lighted reading displays have freed us from the unnatural constraints imposed by archaic reading and writing instruments. Our work devices have become smaller, lighter, and brighter, enabling a renaissance in body awareness and endless possibilities for comfortable and stimulating postures, never before thought possible.





Faulkner’s portable work space
SnapShot(12) Sepia 75
Kindergartner’s work space.







Admittedly, it helps if you’re six-years old and weigh 40 pounds. I do not guarantee that  similar gyrations during reading are entirely safe for adults.

Reader beware.