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Reading While Walking

Not ready for readwalking in an outdoor setting

If you’ve ever seen someone reading while walking (“readwalking”), you might’ve made any number of reasonable assumptions:

  • They’re reading a really good book
  • They’re probably lacking a little in safety consciousness
  • They spend a lot of time walking every day and have realized that reading while walking maximizes their reading time
  • They spend a lot of time taking care of day-to-day life and realized that reading while walking (the dog) maximizes their reading time

Most of the folks who’ve approached me about my readwalking habit have assumed there’s a direct correlation between the awesomeness of a book and my readwalking: “Wow, that must be a fantabulous book!” Numerous times in my youth, I’d smile and reply, “No, this book is actually pretty awful. I hope the next one’s better!” Then I’d bury my nose in my book and continue on my merry way.

In other words, in my youth, there was very little correlation between the awesomeness of a book and the fact I was readwalking.

Now that I’m an octogenarian, you’re less apt to see me reading a book I’d deem “awful.” There’s definitely a clearer correlation between me liking a book and readwalking, but it’s not a causal one. Instead, it’s a reflection of the fact I spend about fourteen hours a day engaged in working, driving or caring for my (delightful) little one. If you see me readwalking these days, you can assume the book I’m reading is captivating because I wouldn’t waste scarce reading time on anything else.

With time, a reader becomes skilled in the art of checking for traffic, obstacles and other external bars to readwalking, performing these split-second checks without even being conscious of them. A skilled readwalker might occasionally experience readwalking hiccups, such as eating a mouthful of leaves or realizing they’re on the opposite side of a busy street from where they performed their last check.

Such incidents become rarer with practice, which is why an unskilled readwalker should practice the art only in small bursts on empty walkways.

These days, if you see me wandering the streets in half-darkness, leash (hopefully still affixed to a dog) in one hand and book in the other, you’d probably be right to assume the book in my hand is a good one. Still, you shouldn’t necessarily rush down to your local bookseller to buy that book.

As is true of a book’s cover, you can’t necessarily judge a book by its readwalker!

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