Accessible Hacks for Reading in Bed

Reading in bed seems like a leisurely, easy activity, doesn’t it? I mean, why would you need hacks to help you read? Yet if you are among those of us who have joint pain, muscle fatigue, difficulty seeing, or weakness, you know that even reading in bed can be a challenge!

So, to address our literary limitations, here are some ideas to make reading in bed a little bit easier.

Disclaimer: Please note that some of the links below are affiliate links and I will earn a small commission if you purchase through those links. I post links to products that I have used personally, or that I feel might be helpful or useful to my readers. I particularly like to support small businesses, socially-responsible sellers, and other disabled/chronically ill individuals whenever possible.

1. Reading Pillow

I know from experience that gripping a thick novel (or, let’s be honest, even a thin one) can make my hands feel absolutely exhausted. It doesn’t take long before my whole forearm is trembling and I’m trying to find creative ways to hold the book in place with my elbows or the edge of my blanket to give my hands a break. It’s a little ridiculous!

Of course, I also find myself leaning down to look at the pages wherever the book is propped, so that my upper arms are spared the work of holding the book up high (or else they have a tendency to turn to jelly!).

Which all leads us to the first solution: a reading pillow. These things are available everywhere, or easy to DIY at home. A reading pillow basically consists of a small-medium firm pillow that can be held on the lap or next to you in bed. Small lengths of elastic or ribbon secure the corners of the open book (and accommodate several sizes of books), so that all you have to do is slide the book in and read. The pillow brings the book up closer to you for easy reading. And, hey, if you doze off mid-chapter (not that I ever do), what’s another pillow in your bed??

Image of reading pillow, with link to Etsy.
A Caucasian woman holds a colorful pillow on her lap. Red polka dot ribbons are laid across the upper corners of an open book, and secured at the sides of the pillow.

2. Book or Device Holder

Another great option (less cushy) is a book or device holder. Again, options abound! The general idea is that this is a stand made of a solid material, such as wood, that sits over the lap and holds an iPad, Kindle, or a book. While some of us spend our recovery hours flipping through the pages of a traditional book, let’s be honest: many of us also binge watch our favorite shows on a device. No shame in that! If you’re like me, your hands can get equally tired holding a device, leading to all kinds of crazy MacGyvered positions for supporting the device without wearing out muscles. A holder would be so much easier…

Some holders come with collapsible legs, so it can also be laid flat on the bed next to you. The back is often angled and adjustable, too, to make it easier to see the screen or pages from different positions.

Image of wooden device holder, with link to Etsy.
A collapsible wooden device holder, with adjustable parts to sit atop the lap, flat on the bed, and to vary the angle of the back. The holder is shown in these various positions.

3. Overhead Device Holder

Chuck those old paper books for a minute, and let’s talk about the hours we all spend on our devices when we’re laid up in bed… As I’ve mentioned, it can cause some serious problems to have to grip a phone or tablet for long periods of time (like the duration of that six-season show we’re bingeing). It’s also tricky to get the right angle to minimize glare when we’re propping the thing up in bed next to us. Enter this little gadget (which makes a great gift, too!). Fully adjustable, hands-free… It’s the device equivalent of having someone next to you feeding you grapes and fanning you. Ahh…

Image of adjustable device holder, with link to Wayfair.
A black plastic and metal device is shown. The long arm is fully adjustable, with a device holder on one end and clamp on the other.

4. Hands-Free Magnifier/Light

Whether because of eye fatigue, blurred or double vision, vision impairment, or other issues, sometimes it can be difficult to clearly see what’s on the page or screen. A little light and magnification never hurt any of us!

For an option that makes things a little clearer without extra energy expenditure, consider a clamp magnifier/light. There are dozens of options available, with varying levels of magnification. Some even have USB ports/chargers to keep your device powered up!

Image of adjustable clamp magnifier with link to Etsy.
A white plastic magnifier with LED lights has adjustable gooseneck and clamp base to attach to a table or bed. A cross stitch project is shown next to the magnifier.

5. Portable Magnifier

An option that’s not exactly hands-free, but very classy, is a portable magnifier. There are dozens of options (think, Mr. Peanut and his monocle!). These magnifiers are typically worn attached to clothing or around the neck so they’re readily available. They’re lightweight and small, and perfect for occasional magnification. Plus, how cool would you look leaning in and pulling out a beautiful magnifier to see something up close?

Image of magnifying glass pendant necklaces, with link to Etsy.
Three small metal-framed magnifying glasses, worn as necklace pendants with long chains. The glasses are shown in three metal finishes: black, silver, and gold.

What tips and tricks have worked for you? I’d love to hear about them in the comments!

Happy reading (and binge-watching…)!

4 responses to “Accessible Hacks for Reading in Bed”

  1. Ooo these are cool ideas and I love the reading pillow!! I prop my book up on a travel pillow as I have issues gripping it for long periods, though it’s awkward trying to put my phone there to hold the pages in place so the pillow with the straps at the top would be way better. xx


    • Agreed! Until you’ve experienced it, I think it’s hard to imagine that something as simple as reading could be difficult. Good luck to you –I hope you find an option that helps!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I wonder what would work on a keyboard for when i am reading a book on my pc. because sometimes I want to finish my book on my pc with my screen reader. and laybing the keyboard on my stomach can be painful on my shoulder. I am totally blind so some of these are not practical for me. bt hey if they work for others great. maybe that pello might let me do it or some sort of clip stand but my keyboard is slim and really wont let anything clip to it. hmm this makes me think. I just need to think on it.


    • That’s a great observation! I have seen tilting lap desks with straps or things to secure a laptop so that it stays in place –I wonder if something like that would work for you? I’ll have to keep my eyes peeled as well, but please let me know if you find a good solution!


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