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Christine DeSmet Asks What’s Your Reading Ritual?

Christine DeSmet is the author of the Fudge Shop mystery series and the Mischief in Moonstone series. You can find out more about her on her website, or by clicking here, see her books here, and read her last post here.

Scientists conclude rituals are part of our DNA and are used to deal with threats, particularly disease and danger.  

That struck home with me—a cozy mystery writer and writing coach—when a reader online said reading cozy mysteries got her through the pandemic years.  

         Reading often comes with “rituals.”  

         Here are common reading rituals: 

         ~ Do you have to read a certain amount before you take a break? 

         ~ Do you always sneak a peek at the last line before starting the book? 

         ~ Do you love bookmarks? Must you get a special one for each book you read? (Many people do!) 

         ~ Do you tend to read many or all of an author’s books in a row? 

         ~ Do you keep a book journal?  

         ~ Do you have to read before sleeping?  

         ~ Do you prefer to read while eating or at a restaurant? 

Scientific research concludes rituals increase our performance. Baseball players and many in sports, music, theater, and others have rituals they do before performing.  

Is reading a “performance” for you and me? In a way, it is. We’re challenged to explore words, focus for a length of time, and read until the cliffhanger of each chapter or page 50 etc. We feel good, maybe even different when we set the book aside after a reading session. Reading takes our time, talent, even courage sometimes. Conquering this performance perhaps helps a reader feel in control of their world, even if it’s only for fifteen minutes in a day.  

One researcher called rituals the “punctuation mark” on life. Rituals increase our control over life or time, giving us a sense of power. Perhaps our animal DNA is saying, “Stay away, dangerous and messy life, because right now I’m in charge during my reading break.” 

One researcher said writing rituals “enhance fluency,” and I believe that also pertains to readers. Reading increases vocabulary and storytelling know-how. 

         My reading ritual is simple. I start the coffee in the morning, and then with cup by my side in my chair by the window where I can watch the neighborhood dogs taking their owners out for their first morning walk, I read about twenty pages from a novel. The words inspire me to think and write and edit creatively.   

I stop at around 20 pages in the mornings—and it has to be at the end of a chapter. Then I turn to my work. I can also read for a whole day on a weekend and bury myself in a good book, but the morning time is a bona fide ritual.  

         My ritual includes choosing a beautiful and appropriate bookmark before I start reading. The mood of the bookmark should match the tone of the book. Independent bookstores, author presentations, and book fairs are great places for finding unique bookmarks. Some people create collages or works of art with bookmarks.  

What’s your reading ritual?  

Christine DeSmet

Christine DeSmet is the author of the Fudge Shop Mystery Series set in Door County, and the Mischief in Moonstone Series set in northwest Wisconsin. You can find out more about her on her website,, or follow her on Facebook.

This Post Has 21 Comments

  1. Laurie Buchanan
    Laurie Buchanan

    Christine — I love that you watch your neighborhood dogs take their owners for their first morning walk!

    I’m an afternoon/evening reader. So, after writing and taking my last two-mile walk of the day, I take off my shoes and put my “reading socks” on. They are a must! Wearing them is my statement that I’m done writing for the day, and it’s time to put my shoulders down and relax with a good book.

    Right now, I’m reading “Her Last Affair” by John Searles and enjoying the bejeebers out of it.

  2. Christine DeSmet
    Christine DeSmet

    I love the idea of “reading socks”! That’s fun and it feels like a reward for reading. I bet kids would read more if they were gifted special “reading socks.” There are probably socks online somewhere with depictions of books or words that pertain to good books and reading.

    1. Laurie Buchanan
      Laurie Buchanan

      Christine — You’re probably right about bookish-type socks existing in the marketplace. And I know you’re right about kids loving the idea. I keep “reading socks” for Luna, our three-and-a-half-year-old granddaughter, at our house. When she’s with us (a lot), we read (a lot). So when it’s time to read, she knows the routine: “Come on, Nana. Let’s put our reading socks on!”

      1. Tracey Phillips
        Tracey Phillips

        I love this ritual, Laurie! I may have to adopt it with my granddaughter when she visits. ❤

  3. Christine DeSmet
    Christine DeSmet

    As a Nana and author, you rock in every way!

  4. Margaret Mizushima
    Margaret Mizushima

    Love this post! I save my reading time for late afternoon and weekends after writing and work time are over. I like my reading chair and relaxing with a cold drink of some type, usually Hint, flavored water, and my favorites are watermelon and Blackberry. I love my reading and relaxing time!

    1. Christine DeSmet
      Christine DeSmet

      Yeah, Margaret, I love reading as “reward,” too. I often end the day with a few chapters or pages. I love the blackberry flavor but haven’t tried watermelon! I’m due to make watermelon fudge and maybe the watermelon-flavored water will have to be bought to go with it. You’ve inspired me.

  5. Anne Louise Bannon
    Anne Louise Bannon

    I love the concept of a reading ritual, but if I started reading first thing in the morning, I’d never stop or get anything done the rest of the day. My current ritual is trying to keep my eyes open long enough to read more than a page or two.

    1. Christine DeSmet
      Christine DeSmet

      That’s funny and so real, Anne!

  6. Tracey Phillips
    Tracey Phillips

    I love rituals and love all the ideas you put in this post, Christine. I never considered that reading books was ritualistic for me, though I do like to read after dinner while my hubby watches a show. It is the best time for me to relax into the story when I know I don’t have to answer any emails or answer to my dog’s demands. (Yes, they walk me. LOL)

  7. Avatar

    This is a great topic for a blog, but I can’t think of any reading rituals that I observe consistently. I read morning, noon, and night. I read while on an exercycle, in bed, in a bathtub, at the dining room table, in my office, inside, outside, at home, on vacation, when I’m sick, when I’m healthy. I’ve had reading-mania since I was two years old, so I’ve found ways to integrate reading into almost every minute of the day. Maybe that’s a ritual–making reading omnipresent in my life!

    1. Christine DeSmet
      Christine DeSmet

      Saralyn, your ritual seems to be “opening a book,” LOL!

  8. Sherrill Joseph
    Sherrill Joseph

    Christine, thanks for your post! Like you and others, I see reading as a reward and time to relax into the next activity. For me, the next activity is sleep! The last thing I do each night before turning off the light is read. I always try to stop at the end of a chapter. For over a year now, I’ve been reading a Blackbird writer’s book and/or a middle grade novel that I featured in my newsletter. If I picked up a book any earlier in the day, I fear I wouldn’t get any writing done!

    1. Christine DeSmet
      Christine DeSmet

      Sherrill, I often feel the same way–that I wouldn’t get any writing done. But I’ve made myself sit still long enough for at least reading a chapter. My challenge sometimes is staying away from constant writing and editing; when I get in the flow or addictive state of writing it can be easy to put aside reading, too, but I have to keep up on bestsellers and of course books by new members of Blackbirds. So rituals somehow help me break away from the writing. Striving for a balance is constantly on my mind it seems.

  9. Avatar
    Laurie's Story

    Christine, I admire the ritual. I think you make a good point in having a set schedule — reading in the morning, etc. This keeps you happy and disciplined as an author — and obviously very productive!

  10. acentrae

    Thanks for this post. I don’t have a reading ritual, but may have to create one!

  11. Sharon Lynn
    Sharon Lynn

    As with every ritual I do, tea is involved. Iced or hot, with or without milk.
    I read books made of paper, on my iPad, and my Kindle, and listen to them as audiobooks.
    I love the feel of a physical book, the smell of the paper, the satisfaction of turning a page. But I also love that I can fit my ereader into a pocket and carry hundreds of books with me wherever I go.

  12. joyribar

    Thanks for a great post! My rituals change with the seasons. I love to sit outside on a lazy warm day and read on a blanket or bench in the shade. I also love to read in bed, but sometimes read too long and oops, there goes the 7 hours of sleep I promised myself!

  13. Christine DeSmet
    Christine DeSmet

    I love reading after my afternoon walk in the summer. I sit on the deck or patio with a cool drink and relax with a few pages. It feels sublime.

  14. Tim Chapman
    Tim Chapman

    In bed, before I fall asleep. The next night, of course, I have to reread a few pages. ;/)

    1. Christine DeSmet
      Christine DeSmet

      That’s funny, Tim. Yeah, that probably happens to a few of us.

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