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Insubordinate Reading

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What with classes, sports, video games, and everything else life throws at a hapless student, it can be tough getting in some quality reading time. The solution is obvious; why not just read in school? The problem with schools encouraging students to read is that they rarely encourage students to read materials that they would have picked out on their own. For those of you who get the choice of what to read in class, you are lucky! This entry is for the rest of us.

Reading unassigned material in school can be maddeningly impossible. Granted, there are study halls, lunch breaks, and the walk between classes to put in quality reading time. However, what do you do if you have a book that is so exciting - say you're just coming to the end, or a mystery is about to be revealed, or it's just so good that you can't bear to put it down? Or what if the class is so horrible1 that you can't sit through it unaided? If you are no longer a student and instead reside in the working world, the following can also be applied to meetings although the repercussions can be a bit more severe.

What To Do


Ideally, you need some form of desk or table to pull this off. A backpack will also facilitate the process. But have no fear if these things are not to be found, this process works for all situations!


If you have none of these things, the best way to go about reading during class is to lean back against something with your notebook or textbook open vertically on your lap. Put your own book inside the notebook and hope that no one notices. Be sure not to let your books tilt away from you or someone will spot what's hidden inside. Without even a notebook to hide your activity, just try to keep your book as far out of the teacher's line of sight as possible and if caught choose a smaller book next time.

If you have a backpack or a large stack of other books place these on your desk so that the teacher can't see the area where you would normally be writing had you been paying attention in class. Now carefully take out your own book2 and slip most of it under your desk. Slump down low in your seat with your head at a slight angle. It should be down just enough to see the book but not so far as to appear to be reading it. This can be difficult.

Now, if the teacher assigns you something to read during the class period, you've got it made. There are several options here. You can read with the assigned book (this works best with large textbooks) propped up open on your desk, acting as a cover for the personal reading material that you slip inside. You can also lay the assigned material on your desk as a decoy while you read your book conveniently located in your lap. If you are feeling particularly rebellious, you can just read your own book flat on your desk and assume that the teacher won't notice that you aren't reading the assigned chapter because you're so engrossed in the reading and all text looks the same at 20 feet anyway.

If the teacher begins to look at you angrily then slip the book underneath your thigh or bottom and pretend to be engrossed in your notes. It is also wise to pay just enough attention to the lecture to be able to parrot back that last thing that the teacher said, in case you are suspected of not paying attention3.

Some Cautionary Advice

If you are caught, it could result in a long boring talk with the teacher or worse, a detention. So be careful!

Advanced Studies

For those of you who have mastered the challenge of reading in class, no longer take classes, or are more engrossed in your book than ever, take note.

Some other places to read include:

  • In the bath

  • At meal-times (though this one is a fairly common sight)

  • While in a car stopped at a red light (yes, this one's for the driver)

  • In very slow moving traffic (not recommended)

  • While stopped at a railway crossing

  • Or just taking a walk, as evinced by one Researcher's experience:

    If you have a lengthy regular walk I can confirm reading is perfectly easy, using peripheral vision to notice approaching obstacles - the only thing you tend to miss are low hanging branches.

  • See also: How to avoid gym class

1Algebra, for instance2It's best to do this before class starts3Of course, the last thing the teacher actually says is usually something along the lines of 'Miss Jones, since you've been paying so much attention can you please tell me what I just said?' if you want to be facetious

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