I just changed employers a few weeks ago and went from a psql shop to a mysql shop. One of the things that I missed was the ability to set a pager in a .psqlrc file and get readable output from query results. After some digging and ignoring the posts about \G and vertical output which is nearly useless to me I finally found out the proper flags for less to achieve what I wanted.
On the fly:
mysql> \P less -S PAGER set to 'less -S'
$ vim ~/.my.cnf
Add the following…
[client] pager = less -S