Reading & walking

Over at Alien Onion, the blog of my Oz publisher, Allen & Unwin, there’s some talk about walking and reading at the same time.

It is a skill I wish I had. My few attempts have been sad failures. Thing is when I read I get so sucked into the story I have no idea what’s going on around me. Which is not good when there are other people around and, worse—cars. Once I walked into a light post. Let us not speak of it.

I suspect my problem is not just reading and walking at the same time but any kind of multi-tasking. I have a slow simple brain that struggles to do more than one thing at a time. Sigh.

What about youse lot? Are you more successful than I am at walking and reading at the same time?


  1. Emily on #

    I can!!!!

  2. Jez on #

    Over the years I’ve gotten pretty good at it actually 🙂
    In high school I used to read while I walked from class to class, through over-crowded hallways, so that was great practice. The people didn’t move very fast because there were so many of us, so it wasn’t hard, I guess. Now though I can read and walk and chew gum all at the same time 😛

  3. Jenn S. on #

    I used to walk out of the library with my nose already in a book because I couldn’t wait to start reading. My mother would always tell me to put it down before I ran into something. But I never did, which is surprising since I am pretty klutzy. I am more likely to run into walls when *not* holding a book.

  4. Karen on #

    I thought the whole point of reading a great story was to get so pulled into the book that you forget about everything else!

  5. Desdemona on #

    I’m really klutzy to begin with but I’m pretty god at walking and reading at the same time. Sometimes I forget to keep walking and wind up standing in the middle of the hallway or something but I rarely walk into things.

  6. Desdemona on #

    Good sorry, not god. I need to proof read better. >.<

  7. Justine on #

    Karen: I thought the whole point of reading a great story was to get so pulled into the book that you forget about everything else!

    Well, yeah, but is not good when that leads to you walking in front of a semi-trailer.

    Desdemona: I thought it was some slang I hadn’t heard yet. I was about to tell Scott that I’m pretty god at making quinoa.

  8. Leahr on #

    the computer hasn’t been letting me post for ages, but i’ll try anyway. I taught myself to read and walk down the hallways in my school or in other places where i know where everything is and I can just let my feet do the walking.
    but it never worked, because all my friends would see me and begin regaling me with helpful advice, such as, “AAAH, how can you do that without walking into the walls?” I’d end up arguing that it was perfectly safe and lose my chance to keep reading. sad, really.

  9. Leahr on #

    yesssss it worked!!! usually i post and then the internet crashes and the comment disappears, which is why i haven’t posted in so long. yay!

  10. Allison on #

    Impossible! I am such a klutz that I usually walk into someone or something. I have found it very helpful however to walk behind someone and use them as your shield…ermmm, I mean guide!

    I sadly cannot even walk on a treadmill and read at the same time. Sigh. Hmmm…perhaps I need to have a “walking & reading at the same time” fairy?

  11. cathy on #

    I used to read and walk home from school. It was not always successful. As a kid my feet were more or less stuck in ballet second position. Now they point in the right direction, but for a long time the best I could manage was one pointing to the side and one straight. This meant that when walking I had a tendency to veer to the left or right (depending on which foot was at an angle) if I was not paying attention. End result being I was often walking down the street reading a book and alternately bouncing off of building walls and parked cars. I gave up walking and reading at the same time after the time I walked headfirst into the sideview mirror of a van and smashed my glasses. It was less the having to explain to my mother how I’d managed to break yet another pair of glasses and more the fact that several passersby were laughing at me that caused me to give up the habit. fear of embarrassment is a huge motivator.

  12. Lizabelle on #

    I used to have this dilemma: how to finish that chapter while not walking into a lamp post/out in front of a car (both of which I have been known to do, with humiliating results)?

    Fortunately, technology has the answer: I can now fill my ipod nano with audiobooks and read wherever I go! It is fabulous. Sometimes I even go running just so I can find out what happens next.

  13. Karen on #

    Well, yeah, but is not good when that leads to you walking in front of a semi-trailer.

    Right, my point is that I cannot read and do anything else at the same time except possibly eat chips. Reading for me means curling up someplace really comfy and ignoring the rest of the world for a while. Except maybe the tasty chip part of the world.

  14. Abby on #

    I have been able to successfully navigate an overcrowded high school hallway while reading a book. I try to not do it so often (I don’t know why though…), but when I have a book I’m addicted to, I do indeed walk and read at the same time.

  15. Justine on #

    Karen: I agree entirely. I read lying in bed. Or on planes.

    But I’ve always loved the idea of being able to combine reading with other activities. (Reading while duelling, reading while riding a bike, reading while writing a novel.) Think how much more reading I’d get done! But the sad truth is I can’t even eat chips and read at the same time.

  16. Rachel on #

    Justine, I can’t think of an activity I haven’t tried to do while reading! (I’m about eighty percent successful.) In fact, this is why I’m a little scared of learning to drive… if I’m in the middle of a really good book, I don’t trust myself not to try to drive and read.

    But, yeah, I walk and read: at my middle school I was known as “That girl who walks and reads”. Meaning, when I had to interact with students I didn’t know (for instance, checking in at attendance), I would get asked “Hey, aren’t you that girl who walks and reads?”

  17. Nif on #

    I can, especially if I’m walking around a familiar place. I’ve got good peripheral vision and I listen for traffic and I look up when I need to. That said, I try not to do it too often, since it is usually a sign I’m unhappy and should try to be present with myself, and not just a sign that the book is really good.

  18. Dawn on #

    Nope, I totally suck at it. I always have to look up all of the time to make sure I don’t run into anything, and then it distracts from the greatness of whatever I’m reading. It’s hard for me to read unless I know I’m in an environment where I can let the book take complete control. I work in a library, but even when the times are slow, I can’t sit down and read. I can’t just read a page and then get up and help a patron. Shattering the world I’m diving into that often is just very unhealthy for me.

  19. lotti on #

    well. I’ve done it. Opinion is divided as to my skills. But I’m fairly sure the guy in the car that had to stop very suddenly didn’t mind.

  20. Amber on #

    I walked into a lamp post without even needing a book. There was blood.

    That was not god at all. In fact, I would go so far as to say it was distinctly ungod.

  21. Kelly McCullough on #

    I read this post on the treadmill, though I had to wait to respond till I got off because the static build-up will crash my laptop and even if it didn’t I have to slow down too much to type. I used to walk and read paperbacks or magazines all the time as a kid.

  22. Caitlyn on #

    So long as I have someone to follow out of the corner of my eye, I’m fantastic at it. I can even go down stairs and through doors.

  23. Hillary! on #

    Yeah, I used to read and walk at the same time. But then i ra into a stationary truck and that scared the bejesus out of me. Haven’t done it since.

  24. Desdemona on #

    Justine- my friends and I actually do say we’re pretty god at doing things but I was sure if you approved of blasphemy on your blog. Haha

  25. Steve Buchheit on #

    I used to be able to do that back in college. Nowadays I’m lucky if I can listen to the radio and drive a car at the same time. Getting old sucks.

  26. lisa on #

    One for the ‘can’t’ camp here.

    But I am completely in love with a guy who walks around my neighbourhood reading. Really interesting books, too. And he’s mastered the walk-and-read. And he’s quite cute. Unfortunately, because he’s reading as we walks I can never strike up a conversation with him – I hate it when people interrupt me mid-sentence!

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