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Lawful Evil to Chaotic Good: Identifying the Best Time of Day to Read

Vivienne Woodward


Vivienne Woodward lives in Philly and works as the events coordinator for an indie bookstore. She can often be found drinking too much coffee in the sunny spot on her couch and over-identifying with fictional characters. She enjoys collecting hobbies, dancing to radio pop, and rearranging the book stacks on her side tables.

Let’s begin with the bad, shall we? Good things come to those who wait (right?) and the best awaits you at the end of this list. The best time of day to read, that is. I know you will enter into this article with your own preferences, and the inflammatory language you may encounter as you read this piece may anger you. I urge you to keep reading and to open your mind to the possibility, the likelihood even, that you are wrong. What I mean to say is: there is definitely a chance you are doing reading wrong. Let’s begin. 

Lawful Evil: Right Before Bed

Yuck! I know this is a “popular” choice, but if you are consistently reading right before you go to sleep, you are doing something wrong. I myself just attempted this last night in order to practice what I preach, so to speak, and I will never again attempt it. My brain was sluggish; my eyes were heavy; my arms could barely hold up the book. What’s the point of reading if you aren’t reading vigorously and with intentional attention? Why read to fall asleep? Why associate the greatest pastime with slipping OUT of consciousness? A grave mistake, my friend. 

Neutral Evil: Lunchtime

This is barely worth spending time on, but I guess my only question is: why? Lunch is good. Reading is good. Why split your attention to either?

Chaotic Evil: Afternoon Slump

If you are trying to read between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m., you are evil. At best, you should be napping. At worst, you should be watching TV. At middle you should be soldiering through a post-brunch walk with your friend, trying to be interesting at the most lethargic, least interesting time of day. The doldrums of the day are not reading’s friend. 

Lawful Neutral: Mid-Morning

There is a stretch of time from about 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. where it would be fine to read. There are sub-rankings, obviously, laid out here. But in general, it’s just a fine time to read. It doesn’t offend me, but it doesn’t excite me, you know?

True Neutral: The Second Thing You Are Doing in Your Day

Sure, take your run and shower first. This is truly just fine. 

Chaotic Neutral: Before Lunch

Seems a little odd to be ravenous and trying to read, but do your thing, girl. I am not going to argue with channeling that hunger into reading. 

Lawful Good: With Coffee, Immediately Upon Waking

This is, without question, the best time to read. Everyone agrees. If you thought you didn’t agree when you started reading, then by the time you have reached this sentence, you probably do now agree. It’s written in the Constitution, I’m pretty sure. You are so fresh first thing in the morning — peak fresh! But you’re also not quite so awake that you’re distracted and taking everything so “literally.” Your brain has some flexibility to really catapult itself into whatever you’re reading. It’s especially best to read fiction first thing in the morning, but whatever you’re into works, too. Let your slightly sleep-malleable brain soar into new worlds, uncharted territories, unexplored terrains of words!!!

Neutral Good: Before Dinner

If morning is the peak time to read fiction, then a little pre-dinner sit-down is the best time to read nonfiction. It’s a nice relaxing moment in the day when you’re basically done with what you need to do, but before you start to worry about what still needs to be done. Right? Is this sounding familiar? It’s a nice little transitional moment for you to take yourself outside of your day. Maybe you’re feeling reflective. Maybe your mind is a little too taxed to engage with fiction, but it’s still craving a little stimulation before the wind-down. Reward it with words!

Chaotic Good: Middle of the Night

Listen. WHY NOT. You can’t sleep, or maybe you’re a night owl, or maybe you practice dorveille. No matter the reason, there is no time when your mind is more open, more spongy, more moldable (scientific terms). You will experience literature like you’ve never experienced it before. There is just something about being surrounded by total darkness — total darkness except for the lamp you turned on next to your bedside; that is just enough light to illuminate the pages you are reading. There is a metaphor there. If it were the middle of the night right now, I would be able to find it for sure.