The 10 Inalienable Rights of the Reader — Agree, Disagree?

Today is List Day, or Tip Day, or Quiz Day.

This Wednesday, back by popular demand: the 10 inalienable rights of the reader.

A thoughtful reader pointed out a wonderful list written by French author Daniel Pennac, in The Rights of the Reader.

As someone who loves to read–practically to the exclusion of everything else–I love this list.

The 10 Inalienable Rights of the Reader

1. The right not to read
2. The right to skip
3. The right not to finish a book — this was a habit I cultivated as part of my research for Better Than Before. Now I have so much more time to read the books I love.
4. The right to re-read — I love to re-read
5. The right to read anything
6. The right to “Bovary-ism,” a textually transmitted disease (the right to mistake a book for real life)
7. The right to read anywhere
8. The right to dip in — my husband got me started on the practice of reading multiple books at once
9. The right to read out loud — my younger daughter reads aloud to me every night, such a wonderful tradition
10. The right to be silent

If you’d like to see the list as illustrated by Quentin Blake, look  here.

If you’re interested in more ideas about “Reading Better Than Before,” you can download my one-page list of suggestions here. It’s funny–I wrote several of these one-pagers, and I thought that Working Better Than Before,” “Eating Better Than Before,” and Exercising Better Than Before would be more popular than the one about reading. But go figure! Reading is the most popular, from what I can tell.

What do you think  of the list? Anything you’d add–or with which you disagree?

  • Nicola

    The link for the list illustrated by Quentin Blake doesn’t appear to be working!!!

  • Ann Bjorseth
  • John Schervish

    I’d add the right to read things other people think you shouldn’t.

  • Brad Dawkins

    The link to Quenten Blake is not working.

  • Dotty

    Love this list of the rights of readers. It reminds me of a friend who generously loans me books with the comment “so many books,so little time” as a way of stopping a book that is just not connecting !

  • Flector

    i’d add as a variation to 5: ‘the right to read books that everybody is reading at the time’ because i see people depriving themselves of many wonderful discussions, because they don’t want to be like everybody else.
    and also a variation to 4.: the right to read just one book only, over and over again. because sometimes that can be so wholesome…
    btw: i didn’t receive a reply to a mail sent to should i take this personally?

    • gretchenrubin

      Great additions.

      Hmmmm….don’t know why you didn’t get a reply. Try again! sorry about that.

      • Flector

        thanks, gretchen. did you get it now? the first one was sent 2015-07-17 12:45 GMT+02:00, the second today 21. Juli 2015 um 15:23, both to grubingretchenrubin .com. the subject was ‘habit starter kit’.

  • Samaira Khan
  • Joey

    The Blake link isn’t working but here is an alternative:

  • A reader has every right 🙂 Although, I had never realized how my reading was sacred! I wouldn’t skip on a fictional book. I feel terrible if I don’t finish it, I just need to (I finished one earlier this year after starting it 7 years ago!). I need to focus on one book at the time. I guess a reader can also note, turn down the corner of a page or highlight quotes but to me, it’s almost a profanation!

  • Susan Mary Malone

    “The right not to finish a book” was once a bear for me! I felt I had to, no matter how awful it was. LOL. What a freeing experience to throw it across the room if I wanted!
    And interestingly, you do know that Amazon Kindle tracks how far readers get. It’s somewhat amazing how few actually finish books!

  • Maryann

    The right to read the ending and skip the middle if a book is dragging on (even a “classic” like On The Road.

  • AKillins

    The right not to love a book, everyone else adores or is a best seller

  • AKillins

    The right to “write” in the margins (unless it is a library book, of course).

    • Chantal de Medeiros

      As a librarian, this makes me cringe! LOL

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  • Amit

    The right to be and stay virtuous forever in feelings, thoughts and deeds in spite of the various influences hinted, spoken and savored by friends and strangers.

  • Joan Doyle

    You mentioned the illustrator Quentin Blake but neglected to mention the author, Daniel Pennac. I think that is a big omission.