In November 2018 we asked the readers of our newsletter where the busiest or most distracting places they’ve read in and been so absorbed in a book that they didn’t notice their surroundings.

Here are their responses:

Jan: Funny you should have that question this month…..Greetings from Newark Airport in Jersey! My husband and I are on our way to Dublin and then England and our flight has been delayed 5 1/2 hours!! I’ve downloaded 6 books for the trip and hope I have enough to now that we are sitting here extra time.
As far as trying to concentrate…….reading in a busy airport is a challenge with all the people, announcements, noise……but I am trying. I’ve found sitting facing away from all the commotion helps. So far, so good.

PS……love the Halloween costumes!!!!!!! And to have it as a family thing is THE best!!! Amd if you gat any snow up by you, send it south. I got a new snowmobile.

Mishawn: I was sitting in the Denver airport waiting to board. I started to read my book and got so caught up in it that I tuned everything out. I was so absorbed in my book that someone finally came over and told me my plane was boarding if that was the flight I was on. Didn’t even hear them announce boarding or anything! Finished the book on the plane before we landed!

Marie: The busiest, most distracting place I have been and still be able to concentrate on a book I could just not put down was the bus stop.

Debbie: My husband is a big fan of going to the Casino, but me, not so much. So, I just put my headphones in sit next to him or walk around the casino listening to my book! I can totally block out all the crazy sites, sounds and people and ENJOY the my book!

Chris: Dear Graeme, this is a question I’ve never been asked! One of the noisiest, smelliest places I ever sat and read (and completely shut out the world around me as the book drew me in) was at a car dealership where I was waiting for the mechanic to be done with my car. I think they had to call my name a couple of times! I always carry a book with me whenever I am going someplace where I’ll have to wait a while–a doctor’s office, the driver’s license place, etc.

Linda: I read in doctor’s offices and there is no place noisier. Phones ringing, people talking, nurses calling out names and kids screaming-lol. But if my book is good I just float into the plot and ignore it all. Read two good books this month: James Patterson’s “Texas Ranger” and Brad Parks “Closer Than You Know”. Then I read Sandra Brown’s “Seeing Read” , which was okay, nothing special. I liked the characters and the action, but the reason for the crime was kind of unbelievable. I have been reading a lot of stand alones lately, not wanting to get invested in a character. Thank you and the readers for some more ideas and happy reading all.

Gerine: Busiest/Most distracting place for me–I take my Kindle with me and read during intermissions at plays I attend.

Catherine: Hello!! Firstly, have to tell you I love OrderOfBooks and refer to it frequently!! Additionally I recommend the site to friends!
Secondly, to answer the question about most distracting place and still absorbed in a book: Eons ago when in high school study hall, a practice fire alarm went off. I was so absorbed in what I was reading, I didn’t even hear it! A teacher had to come over to enlighten me.
Thanks for the site and your newsletter!!

Dorothy: Wow! What a great newsletter! Well done. I am not easily impressed with newsletters and generally delete after first one.
I like idea of book club. I don’t belong to one because I got frustrated when very few read the book and when the topics ranged off The book.
The craziest time I was lost in a book was in a delivery room waiting for the birth of my baby. Nurses kept asking if I needed anything and I kept dismissing them. I was engrossed in reading my mystery. My husband, a doctor, kept reading his paper. The must have thought we were the weirdest couple. I have to say I had easy deliveries or this would not have been possible.

Mary: It was end of June 1997 and we had just arriver overnight from Orlando to London. There at the bookstore in Heathrow was an marque for a new author and book _ Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone. Since I needed a new book I picked it up and didn’t start reading it until the next day. BIG MISTAKE. Here I was in London sightseeing and was so absorbed in the book I was torn as what to do. I could not put the book down. On the bus trips while our guide was telling us the historic sites were going to see I was in the back of the bus reading. It was thrilling. I finally finished it and could enjoy the rest of our trip. But I did read it again on the plane ride home. I had the book before it was published in the states. I passed it around to my family and it was dog eared when I got it back. I was a big fan from page 1.

Ray: Wow, Graeme, that author’s thinking leaves me in a quandary. I’ve got a lot of my books from your listings, “You also might like…”, et al. I use “Order of books” all the time for both new authors and old. That’s really amazing to me.
I’m wondering if the author was just having a bad day and somebody or something entirely unrelated to your web sight pissed him or her off.? Anyway, as you say,”Whatever squirts your pickle”.
Your picture is very cool. I’m not familiar with that video game or any other video game for that matter so
I’m sure I didn’t get the full benefit of the costumes.
I tried to read that Gilly MacMillan book, but had to toss it after about 50 pages. Books are like music, different likes and dislikes by different people.
I feel for you visiting Dallas, but I’m glad you got something good out of it. Dallas, the arm pit of the world.
I’m sure you’ve been told many times by now, so just ignore my notice that the wrong book cover was used by the Paul Doiron book description.
When I find myself in noisy and distracting places, I usually leave. (Usually a restaurant) and I don’t ever go back. Needless to say, I can’t handle noisy places. Give me the peacefulness of a golf course where the worse one may hear is “Fore”, or,”Crap”. However, I’ll definitely have to read Blake Crouches “Wayward Pines Trilogy”.
Thanks very much, Graeme for you news letter. I always enjoy them.

Sue: I can get so involved into a book, that I can tune everything out. Due to unforeseen circumstances I was stuck once in a hotel for ten days with three kids and two dogs and I could read my book with the noise, and everything else, I think that how I was able handle the situation. When my father was in the hospital the nurses would just shake their head cause I could tune out all the chaos. Of course if my dad needed help no problem. I have read at birthday parties, in the car, and my love for reading is now in my youngest hands. My daughter loves to read and I look forward to the day she is older and we can share our books.

Tom: Good afternoon Graeme, yeah, the pizza-token routine at Chuck-E-Cheese brings back memories. I have done that one a few times in the past and boy you are right, was the pizza ever crummy. I almost think the kids ate the tokens instead seeing as how they could use up a handful in no time. About the only time I can recall being distracted at a public place while trying to read was at the pool. I have lived at various places where there was a swimming pool and I would take the kids or just sit out there reading by myself. Of course, it could get kind of loud with the kids running around and splashing up a storm. Some of the adults can be loud also. Never mind a woman or two walking by in a bikini. Then you have to keep one eye on the kids because you never know what crazy thing they might do in the water. I usually don’t plan on reading anything if I know ahead of time I might be overly distracted. All though, there were always some events that I had wished I would have had something to read out of boredom.

Fred: Sitting in a sub shop in South Florida, sandwich in left hand, paperback in my right when I feel a tap on my shoulder. Look up and I am staring down the barrel of a .45, looking at a fellow in a squat holding the gun with a big grin. He apparently thinks it is pretty funny that he and his partner entered the shop, jumped the counter, rounded up the employees and herded them into the back and emptied the register, and I never looked up from my book. He lightened my wallet, herded me back to the freezer with the others told us to wait 5 minutes and he and his partner left for the getaway car. No harm other than to the cash register, our wallets and our dignity. Must have been a great book, wish I could remember what it was!

Jennifer: This is in response to the question of the most distracting place I’ve been, but was still able to be totally absorbed in a book. I used to work at a very busy Walmart. It was the height of the Christmas shopping season, so naturally it was packed to the gills. All the employees knew me as the girl who always had her nose and her book, or her cell phone if the book I was reading was on a reading app. Anyway, I was on my hour lunch break and I was reading the, “A Song of Ice and Fire“ series by George RR Martin. I was so enveloped in the story, that I was trying to dodge customers while still reading my book, trying to make it to the back of the store so I could clock back in from my lunch break. I was so engrossed in when I was reading, that somehow I ended up clear on the opposite side of the store from where I needed to be. I also ended up being 10 minutes late coming back from lunch. It was well worth it, though!

George: When I am reading a good book it doesn’t matter where I am. I am totally involved with the book and unaware of most outside influences. My chair sits next to the door and one day while reading my wife came over and said: “Why don’t you answer the door?” Come to find out a FedEx guy had been banging on the door to get my signature. I didn’t hear a thing. Other times my wife will come out and say “When are you coming to bed?” And I discover it’s 3 AM and I was so absorbed I didn’t notice the time.

Janice: My most distracting reading situation was at Kings County Hospital in Brooklyn NY in the midwifery unit where I was in labor with my first child-nearly 40 years ago. I was determined to finish reading Proust’s A La Recherche du Temps Perdu (in French) before I became too busy to read anything-it was a challenge I’d set myself months earlier to keep up with my French. Took longer than I’d expected and now it was down to the wire-last chapter of the last volume, but midwife was constantly checking in, nurses taking vitals, anxious husband, mysterious activity in the corridor, and of course the contractions! I succeeded, just barely, and promptly forgot everything I’d read in the much more powerful experience of giving birth-looking forward instead of back! As it should be.

Audrey: Dear Graeme, I realized today that you send one of the few emails that I read as soon as I see it, like email from friends. I drop whatever I’m doing to take the extra time and really delve into your essay and lists.

Your email is like going to tea — infrequent but always invigorating. It’s very nice, especially in today’s stressful world, to take a moment to think about books. So thank you for that.

I laughed at your story of the author insisting on their name being taken off your infernal site. Yikes. Once I had a coupon for a restaurant where you had to spend $20 to get $20 of free food, so we ordered a little over $40 worth of stuff. After our meal we were told that the meals were on special so we hadn’t actually ordered $20. So we ordered enough to cover that, and then were told we were short by a nickel and had to order one more thing. Basically the waiter forced us to order about $10 more food — all of which was free. We tried to tell him this, that we just wanted to leave, but no.

OTOH, your saying you watch every sport reminds me of my dad. Ugh, he’d watch a HS girls lacrosse match if it was on. You remind me that the season us kids most dreaded was this time of year, when professional sports overlapped and the nonprofessional sports were meaningful. Our dad didn’t say ten words to us for months he was so busy watching everything, and when his teams lost those ten words weren’t pleasant.

You have a lovely family. Halloween is such a blast when kids are little. We had a great Halloween here in Philly. We have a cheap little fog machine and it knocks the socks off even the superheroes every year. My son dressed as Santa this time. One year he went as Slenderman and did it all himself. He’s a math and sciences type who isn’t ‘into creativity’ he says, but it pops out in things like his interesting choices in costumes, and reminds me to let him grow at his own pace and express himself in his own way.

lol, your mom’s recommendation wasn’t golden? haha. Many’s the time I’ve gotten my hopes up about a book my mom told me would blow me away. ouch. She has terrible taste in books but I love her all the same.

My mother-in-law is of an entirely different sort. Everything she reads, eats, sees or experiences is the best that’s ever EVER been, so her praise is meaningless. She’s fun to be around though, because your outfit is always the cutest she’s ever seen and your appetizers are the best thing she’s ever tasted :^D

As for your monthly question, I have missed so many bus and train stops because I was reading that it would be boring to list them. I’ve been yelled at in lines, I’ve missed fire trucks and police cars going by. I’ve called in sick to work to finish a book. I consider the world a distraction from my reading.

Every once in a while you have a two-book month but they are anomalies. When I first gave birth it put a real damper on my reading .. and then I started reading parenting books.

Literacy will find a way.

Were you referring to Blackpool in England? I spent a wonderful day and evening there many years ago.

Thank you for your interesting, informative and entertaining newsletters. The work you do is worthwhile and very helpful. You put something good into the world, and not everyone can say that.

Kindest regards and best wishes,

Order of Books » Newsletter » Reader Mailbag: Busiest/Most Distracting Places You’ve Read