Reading hardbacks should be an Olympic sport: why paperbacks win every time

Image: Pixabay

Image: Pixabay

I most often read lying down.

Don’t worry. It may sound like it, but this isn’t going to be some kind of weird confessional blog version of an exploitative Channel Five documentary …

Coming clean: my harrowing addiction to eating soap.


Sewers and me: thirty years of staring into another man’s hole.

You will find none of that here. My horizontal habits are not a filthy secret I feel compelled to share, but you do need to understand them for my ensuing argument to make sense.

I mainly read in bed and as a precursor to sleep. This means, that rather than reading sitting, propped up on a stack of feathery pillows or a quilted, stuffed headboard as many, normal people would do, I read lying on my side. I like reading in this way. It feels warm and comfortable cocooned in a duvet. And when the heavy tendrils of sleep descend, I don’t have to rearrange an Everest of soft furnishings to doze off – all I have to do is reach out to click my lamp off.

Why is this relevant and why do you feel the need to tell the world about your sleeping habits, you exhibitionist weirdo?

Well, maybe this habit is why I no longer read hardbacks. Ever tried reading a hardback lying down? Bugger syncronised swimming, Reading a Hardback Lying in your Side should be an Olympic sport for the workout it puts your wrists through. Hardbacks are too large, heavy, awkward and inflexible. Imagine trying to read a blackboard in bed and you’ll have an idea what I’m talking about.

Of course, they’re also a heck of a lot more money than paperbacks, and if you like to read on the bus or in a cafe, having a hardback with you is like carrying the footings to a bungalow in your handbag.

Three good reasons why paperbacks win over hardbacks.

But what do you think? Do you prefer hardbacks or paperbacks and why? 

5 thoughts on “Reading hardbacks should be an Olympic sport: why paperbacks win every time

  1. Just started I Capture the Castle and your supine paperback perusal reminded me of Cassandra’s speedwriting in her journal, sitting with feet in the kitchen sink or hunched over Abelard the warm ginger cat in the attic. I don’t myself read in this way of course, utilising the plumped-up pillow position for preference. In my youth I sometimes used the sideways-on-the-floor yoga posture but pins-and needles


  2. Blast, pressed SEND button by mistake, damn this small Samsung screen!
    … usually put a stop to prolonged horizontality.

    The Dodie Smith is, coincidentally, a hardback but absolutely no problem, being paperback size. It’s about the second or possibly third I’ve read this year, though I suppose I tend to leave hardbacks for non-fiction research, sitting bolt upright at a table.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve never read I Capture the Castle – it’s supposed to be very good, isn’t it?
      I like the idea of speed writing with your feet in the sink – is their water in it, or does she just like the cool feel of the stainless steel on the soles of her feet?
      After my post about hardbacks, I started reading The Crimson Petal and the White by Michel Faber, a book of over 800 pages, made from paper with an extremely dense molecular structure – a paper back that’s easily as heavy as most hardbacks. So their goes that argument. Beautifully written, though.
      And yes, there’s nothing like a hardback for non fiction. You can’t have one of Brian Cox’s tomes about the mysteries of the multi- verse , wonderfully illustrated with full colour photos … and paper back. It doesn’t work.

      Liked by 1 person

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