The Need to Read

In her article The Top 10 Ways to Market to Introverts, self-described “IntrovertZCoach” Nancy R. Fenn describes 10 common introvert attributes that influence how introverts respond to advertising and marketing pitches. Among the traits she highlights is one that I’ve been thinking about a lot lately, that “Introverts love to read.” About this characteristic she says:

See that person over there on the cruise reading the small print on the cereal box? That’s an introvert. See that woman across the aisle there, actually reading the inflight magazine? That, too, is an introvert. Whoever thought about putting advertisements in elevators and inside toilet doors had introverts in mind. Well … it’s better than having to talk to the other people in the elevator!!

I think this analysis is priceless, if only because I see myself so clearly in her description. Since I was a tiny tot I’ve been an incredibly avid reader, using reading as an escape from social interaction (as Fenn depicts) but also as a hedge against boredom and unhappiness. There is something so comforting to me about diving into a good book; it gives me a distraction from my sometimes wearying thoughts without draining my energy as spending time with others has a tendency to do.

While reading is always a favorite activity, I do have periods when I’m not so much in need of the written word. I’m content to dip into and out of various books, magazines, and Web sites, without suspending other activities. But at other times, the need to read feels almost like a physical necessity, and long periods of devouring a good book the only antidote.

Since we arrived in Paris I’ve been experiencing this need to read quite acutely, even though, or maybe because, suitable reading material is not so accessible. Books are heavy, and with a heavy heart I had to leave most of mine behind in storage when we got on the plane. I did bring a few, but they are mostly reference books that don’t encourage quick consumption. We have made a few forays to local English language bookstores, and I’ve been able to find a few books to hold me over, but something very special is happening tonight (I’m sure you know what it is) that promises to help me scratch this itch.

Yes, the new Harry Potter book comes out tonight, and Joe and I have already reserved our copies (one for each of us, for the sake of marital harmony) that we will pick up at approximately 1 a.m. tomorrow morning from a cute little bookstore in the 4th Arrondissement. I have enjoyed the Harry Potter series, and I’m not happy to see it come to an end, but I am happy to know that my weekend plans will revolve around the simple pleasures of a ripping good story.

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6 Responses to “The Need to Read”

  1. Patti said:

    Hi there! New to your blog (via ITOTD) and really enjoy it. I loved your thoughts on the serial-killer/loner link that’s so often, and so distressingly, made by the media. They inspired my own blog on how important it is for me to have copious amounts of “me-time” as I’ve always called it.

    I’m another introvert who at times uses books as an excuse not to interact socially, even on the most superficial level. I have my lunch in restaurants every day, and if I happen to discover that I’ve forgotten to bring my book with me, I actually have a mini-panic attack. Oh no…I’m going to have to sit there and eat my lunch and try to avoid looking at people, or worse yet, get caught looking at THEM! At least if I have my book, I can shut out everything and pretend I’m alone with my story and my lunch and enjoy a nice peaceful hour on my own during the work day. Which is why I never eat lunch at the office!

    Enjoy Harry Potter…I’ll be doing the same thing this weekend!

    P.S.: isn’t it ironic how faceless communications like this blog and its commenting feature can cause introverts to be social?

  2. Nancy Fenn said:

    Thanks for mentioning me in your blog! Introverts rule.

  3. spectatrix said:


    Welcome to Spectatrix! I can completely identify with that panic attack feeling when I get caught without a book in those kinds of situations. And when I worked in an office, it was definitely essential to have at least some portion of the day to myself to recharge.

    It was my hope when I started Spectatrix that it could be a means for introverts to interact on their own terms — faceless though it may be πŸ™‚ Please come back and socialize some more whenever you feel like it.


    It’s my pleasure. I really appreciated your insight on this issue. Thanks!

  4. eclexia said:

    Thanks for stopping by my blog and commenting. I’ve been following with interest your move to France. That is so exciting. I had to laugh at the quote about introverts reading cereal boxes and the like. When we lived in Portugal for a year and were trying to learn the language, I remember being so frustrated that I had to skim so many words I didn’t know to try to find the place on the shampoo bottle or juice box which was written in English. At the time, I thought, well, when I’m back in America, I’ll be able to read the whole bottle again, since everything is so monolingual. It was actually several years before we returned as we stopped in some other countries along the way. But, when we got back to the U.S., boxes and bottles were no longer only written in English. I didn’t mind too much, as my Portuguese had improved by that time, which meant I could understand most of the Spanish ingredients and instructions. Still, it was funny to think that I cared enough about reading stuff like that to be bothered at the time.

  5. spectatrix said:


    It’s funny that you mention the whole multilingual packaging phenomenon, because I’ve been thinking about that lately. Growing up in Canada, I was used to seeing both French and English on everything (ensuring that I would at least learn the French names of breakfast cereals). When I lived in the States I missed seeing French on consumer products, and now that I’m here in France, I keep turning the bottle/box around to get to the “English” side πŸ™‚