General Question

interpoler's avatar

Do you understand what you read when you are in public?

Asked by interpoler (19points) January 7th, 2010

When someone is staring at you while you read do you understand what you read? or when you are in public and you are around with people you don’t know do you still understand the what you are reading?

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28 Answers

Harp's avatar

It’s harder, sure. The self-consciousness that comes with knowing someone is looking at you, plus all of the distractions of activity around you make concentration difficult. It’s a skill that can be developed, though.

marinelife's avatar

I usually get lost in what I am reading and not notice nearly as much what is going on around me.

LindaRuth's avatar

It can be distracting. I usually read at home.

Merriment's avatar

Yes. I have the ability to get totally lost in a book and to be unable to hear anything going on around me. This ability brings me great pleasure but it makes members of my family a little irked sometimes:)

Strangely, I don’t have this ability to block out distractions during any other activity in public. I can barely take a cell phone call in public and retain the vital information.

erichw1504's avatar

It depends on how well you can multitask I supposed. This goes along the same lines as reading while the television is on. If you can tune out the noise around you, it makes it much easier to concentrate on your reading. For me, I don’t like a lot of noise around me when I read or study. But, like @Harp said “It’s a skill that can be developed”.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

I get really engrossed in what I read and a lot of the things I read are hilarious so eventually after laughing way too loudly (yet again…) I realize that they’re all staring at me and I give them a big fat smile and continue – they wish they had books like me

wonderingwhy's avatar

I’ve gotten pretty good at doing that, a lot of time on the local train system during rush hour helped a bunch. I find earphones make a great difference, but it really comes down to being able to learn to block out what’s going on around you to the extent you can focus. As has been said it is definitely a learned skill. I do find I tone down my comments to myself when in public both from being self-concious of talking to my book with a bunch of people around and so as not to distract others. At times I also find myself hearing other conversations or people watching but I wouldn’t really count those as knocks against reading in public it’s more or less I’d rather be doing something other than reading at that moment.

philosopher's avatar

Yes most of the time. I usually have to read legal things over a few times. Lawyers write things in away to make it difficult for most of us.
I will not sign anything without carefully reading it.
In a noisy environment concentration is more difficult .

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

I don’t like being in groups of people and one of the ways I cope with it is to bring a book and lose myself in it. Bach, Telemann or Bruckner on the headset completes the “blocking out” process. In this mode, I don’t even notice other people around me unless someone enters my “danger close” perimeter and triggers my automatic defensive responses. I’m physically present but my mind is elsewhere, except for a tiny fraction monitoring for danger, flight calls, etc.

interpoler's avatar

@Merriment how do you get totally lost in a book even with all the distraction? People who are not distracted, how do you do it?

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

@interpoler I block it out, often using music. I’m only rarely interested in what others around me are doing.

Merriment's avatar

@interpoler – When I read a book I am not so much reading “words” as I am seeing a movie. I guess my mind is so busy creating and running the film that there just aren’t any brain cells left over to see or hear anything else.

scotsbloke's avatar

If I’m out and about – I’ll listen to audio books. that way I can still be a nosel old sod and do my People Watching!
But I frefer to read with as few distractions as possible

MissAusten's avatar

I can read anywhere too. Like @Merriment , it often drives my family crazy. I’ll be curled up with a book, totally oblivious to what’s going on around me, and my husband will ask me a question or tell me something. I’ll answer him coherently, but later on won’t even remember what he was saying or what I responded with. I can also handle frequent interruptions when I’m reading and then get right back into the book.

I’ve always been that way, but probably developed the skill early. I learned to read early and easily, and have always been an avid reader. In school, I sometimes got in trouble for reading too far ahead of the class. You know, when the whole class starts on page 1 and the teacher assigns a student to read out loud and everyone is supposed to follow along? The sound of a classmate struggling with the reading or mispronouncing words drove me crazy. I would tune it out and just read to myself, then I’d get called on to read and not know where the rest of the class was (usually a few pages behind). My daughter is in 5th grade, and when I told her how I used to hate listening to other kids read aloud in class, she started cracking up and said she does the same thing. She can also already read surrounded by noise and activity and not be the least bit bothered.

Now, I have to get back to my book…

CaptainHarley's avatar

Of course. My ex-wife always said that if I was reading, the entire world could collapse around me and I wouldn’t notice. : )

NaturalMineralWater's avatar

I don’t bother trying to read in public. I like perfect peace and quiet so that I can totally immerse myself in the book.. picturing everything I read as I go.

ubersiren's avatar

I’m a horrible reader, generally (I need more practice). I usually have to read things at least twice if it’s anything remotely involved. Being in public or around any distraction increases my misunderstanding exponentially.

Pcrecords's avatar

When I did more acting work you get used to following a script while blocking out scenes so you learn to follow action and other people while reading from the script.

I think this has crept through to normal life. When I’m checking into a hotel or signing fir anytiing in a shop I can happily read the small print while feeling the body language of the shop assistant saying ‘don’t read it just sign it’

CyanoticWasp's avatar

I am nearly universally literate—in English. That is, I can read anything, anywhere that I can see it. If it’s comprehensible, and sometimes even when it isn’t.

GingerMinx's avatar

Yes, when I am reading I can get totally lost in the story and don’t even hear people who talk to me.

Jeruba's avatar

I would say that I get totally absorbed, rather than totally lost. I can’t say how I do this; I’ve been doing it since I was about six or seven. I simply give the book my total attention. If you ever give your total attention to anything, then you already know how.

I don’t have to actively block anything out. That would occupy part of my consciousness. The reading blocks it out.

I do have to reserve enough consciousness to keep from falling down, hear when boarding is being called, not let my purse get snatched, get off at my subway stop, etc. All the rest is in the book.

daemonelson's avatar

Not really. Usually it just makes me stressed out and I read a whole lot faster. The comprehension doesn’t change.

JustAnother's avatar

I read between innings at the baseball games and between periods at the hockey games. It’s better than trying to actually talk to someone or something.

bea2345's avatar

Many times, when waiting in a queue, I have almost missed my turn because I was reading.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@bea2345 totally and I have wound up on stops other than the one I need

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

It is not self-consciousness that interferes with my reading in public places. It is noise. Of course I can read signs and such but to read pages of text, I require silence. It is a feature of my Attention Deficit Disorder.

YARNLADY's avatar

I have exactly the opposite issue, when I’m reading I don’t see or hear anything around me, and have to be physically touched to get my attention. This is true of educational texts, newspapers, or novels. I have to be very careful when I’m supposed to be paying attention to other things.

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