Assume the Position

“I often find myself changing positions when reading a book or asking myself what position I should be reading a book in. What are your suggestions? What works for you? Please tell both for reading for school and fun.” — From Yahoo Answers

You did the right thing by asking. Too often a reader will spend a lifetime consuming all manner of text — from books to parking signs to their own arrest warrants — in the wrong position, often resulting in headaches, back pain, and no time off for good behavior.

Let us examine a few surprisingly effective positions that will not only combat pain and lessen fatigue, but also increase reading comprehension and make you the center of attention.

THE WHOLLY MOSES: Based loosely on an inaccurate Bible translation, this position involves the reader sitting at a 73-degree angle, as if his or her back is leaning against the base of Mt. Sinai. It’s been reported and debunked — and then reported again, by covert sources — that Moses proofread the Ten Commandments in this position. Moses is said to have found two unnecessary commas and the wrong form of “they’re” in the first draft. He also did some light editing by omitting an entire graph from “Thou Shalt Not Kill” which explained that this item didn’t refer to spiders and if you accidentally kill a deer (“Woodland Camel,” in Hebrew) it’s a minor offense.

THE INVERTED WELSHMAN puts the reader’s head upside down and dangling off a sofa, bed, or church pew. Reading upside down forces the eye to move against gravity as you progress through a page of text. Think of it as lifting weights for eyeballs. After reading a novel in this manner, your eye muscles will be strong enough to lift an average-sized piece of penne pasta without sauce.

(Please Note: THE VERTED WELSHMAN position, despite its name, is not the opposite of THE INVERTED WELSHMAN. It is difficult to discuss in mixed company, but this position involves nudity and emollients and should only be attempted by those who know the “i before e” rule down cold and have a good grasp of the exception sentence: “Neither scientific foreigner seized the weird height.”)

THE VACATIONING BUTLER POSITION: If eye strain is an issue, try reading in a well-lit area such as oh, let’s see — I’ve got it — outdoors on a sunny day! Or in a dental exam chair with one of those bright, Cyclopean lights. In France, for some reason, this is called THE BELLIGERENT FOX position.

If eye strain is not a problem, and you like to read and move without really moving try reading in a mirror on a boat (THE WAYWARD REVERSE CORK position).

THE DUKE POSITION: Suffer from restless leg syndrome? The Duke reading position may be perfect! Leaning with your back against a pane of cold glass, slowly breathe through your nose to the beat of “Duke of Earl.” (Inhale on, “Duke, Duke, Duke.” Exhale on “Duke of Earl, Duke, Duke…” and so on.) You are bound to notice a difference in a matter of days, even if it is nothing more than social ostracism!

THE DECLASSIFIED PANTHER: Stand on one foot while holding your book at eye level. This will not only bolster your appreciation for a “page-turner” but also ensure proper digestion and, according to many aunts, guarantee that your first child will be a boy.

THE LOVE HAWKS: Sit on a bed or sofa, with your back against your partner’s back. The warmth and mutual support will make you feel loved without distracting eye contact. Resist the urge to engage in “spine wars.”

Though some of these positions and reading tactics may seem odd, remember: Nathaniel Hawthorne was known to read while marching in place and Dorothy Parker read books only while fully clothed, including an anorak. And reading postures vary around the globe! The popular reading style in Japan is THE UPWARD FACING PERSON and in Canada most people read in THE HOCKEY STICK AT REST posture.

Finding your ideal reading position can take weeks if not years, but always remember: It’s important to ask the entire internet for help. For Internet Reading Positions, conduct a separate search.

Dan Bergstein is available for children’s parties.