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How To Read a Book With a Flashlight

Kit Steinkellner

Staff Writer

Kit Steinkellner is a playwright, screenwriter, and creative writing teacher. She also writes about books and reading  at Books Are My Boyfriends. Follow her onTwitter: @BooksAreMyBFs

To celebrate Book Riot’s second birthday on Monday, we’re running some of our favorite posts from our first two years.


The power was out in my house the other night. I wish I could say the cause of the outage was something epic and sweeping like being caught in the middle of an L. Frank Baum-conjured twister or Book of Genesis flood and not my fiancé forgetting to pay the power bill because he thought he had set it to automatic.

In any event, fiancé and I hunkered down at Starbucks ’til it closed, and then we had to return to the Creepy Black Hole of Darkness That Eats Small Children and Happiness Snacks–I mean our house.

After blindly searching through about eight drawers, finally found a flashlight, prayed the batteries weren’t all used up, found my library book, and got to work with my nightly reading. I tried basically every reading/flashlight position in the book, short of holding the flashlight between my teeth and you guys, I LEARNED things.

Of course, if you have an ereader with a light-up screen, none of this applies to you. Until DAH DAH DUHHHHH your ereader runs out of batteries and you still don’t have power, then this ALL applies to you.

Let’s do this.

Plan Ahead

Pay your power bill. I’m KIDDING! No, I’m not, I’m saying something serious in a joking way. Also, don’t have your house be nearby storms, also KIDDING, also not, same thing.

It should be noted that a regular flashlight (as we soon shall learn) is not an ideal reading aid. So invest in a reading light.

They have such inventive reading lights these days, like this one that clips to glasses:


And this one that’s basically Joan Holloway’s Mad Men necklace for reading.


Last time the power went out at Book Rioter Rebecca Schinsky’s house, she and her husband wore headlamps that were a gift from her husband’s dad. Take a picture with your ten-percent-battery-life-left phone and tweet it, headlamp reading makes the cutest of candids, check it.


Okay, but say you didn’t plan ahead and only have a flashlight in some random drawer in your house…

Then you’re just like me Twins, we win!

Reading With a Regular Flashlight:

Okay, so don’t do this:


This is the classic “Reading under the covers with a flashlight position” and it makes NO SENSE AT ALL. How long are you supposed to hold your flashlight like that for? Are you only opening your book to read five sentences before you go to bed? This is a weird, uncomfortable position that’s going to make your arm, neck, and back angry with you after about two pages. This position is shenanigans. It’s the cutest of shenanigans. But it’s still shenanigans.


This kid is a little smarter than the last kid who was totally just posing for the camera and not actually reading a book. Placing your flashlight on your mattress means you don’t have to hold it, GOOD JOB SMART KID.

However, there are still issues. It’s really hard to get the angle right, some of the page gets left in the dark like this. Also, you still have to be up on your elbows which is annoying, because if I wanted to do yoga, I would do yoga, but I don’t, jeepers willikers, I just want to read my book!

Sally Draper and flashlight, 2012-04-08 357

So this is not a picture of Sally Draper from Mad Men reading with a flashlight, it’s a picture of her crawling under her couch to avoid being murdered by that serial killer from the fifth season who murdered nurses. BUT, BUT, BUT, this was the best picture I could find to demo my favorite flashlight reading position. If Sally just tucked that flashlight in the space between her shoulder and ear? Perfection! You don’t have to hold the flashlight with your hands, the light hits both pages of your book, you get to lie on your side.

I know, I’m so good at inventing things, I should have lived a hundred years ago and been friends with Thomas Edison.

Best for last. For a while during our all-our-fault blackout we had one of the flashlights standing upright, which I thought was pretty clever of us. Then I found a picture of the most clever thing ever.

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This family is brilliant times a million.

Do you guys have any tried and true tricks for keeping your reading going when the power goes out?