29 May 2008

What is Reading, Fundamentally?

Suggested by: Thisisnotabookclub:

What is reading, anyway? Novels, comics, graphic novels, manga, e-books, audiobooks — which of these is reading these days? Are they all reading? Only some of them? What are your personal qualifications for something to be “reading” — why?

If something isn’t reading, why not? Does it matter? Does it impact your desire to sample a source if you find out a premise you liked the sound of is in a format you don’t consider to be reading? Share your personal definition of reading, and how you came to have that stance.
(Two weeks late for Reading is Fundamental week, but, well…)

I have to say that my initial thought is that reading is - for me - like breathing. I do it without even thinking about it. I read everything - food boxes, license plates, T-shirts, etc. When I am listening to a book on tape/CD/MP3 player, I picture the characters, settings, and such in my head, but only because I am hearing the words, which is also reading as far as I'm concerned. When I was little, my parents would read to me at bedtime, and it has never occurred to me to think that I haven't actually read those books or stories!

However, having read some of the other responses, and thinking about the question a bit more, I realize that it is also asking if the genre or the format makes a difference to you as far as being "true" reading. In response to that, I would say that, like in everything else, I have preferences, and will go to those when/if possible. And certain types of materials bore me to tears, so unless I actually *have* to read them for some reason, I will avoid them altogether.

Format makes a certain amount of difference, but if push comes to shove, and it's something I really want to read, I'll take when I can get!

And you?


John (@bookdreamer) said...

Interesting reflections. I reflected on definitions to try and tackle the topic

Lorraine said...

Bridget- I read alot, but don't stop to consider it.

In desperate moments, I've read the back of the Lysol can.

...or was that TMI?

Knitterary said...

Maybe this is because of my profession, but I think there's a difference between storytelling in the generic (in any format, that is) and narrative storytelling (which requires a narrative -- words on paper).

But I can see that it would be possible to encompass other storytelling formats into a definition of "reading" if all you're focused on the story, rather than the method of content delivery. For me, I want words on paper in order for it to count as reading.

Mr Puffy's Knitting Blog: said...

For me reading means only one thing - opening a book (can be either hard or soft back). It's the difference between "talking" and "having a conversation" - we talk all day but rarely have a conversation.

Anonymous said...

What types of materials bore you to tears?

Interesting question this week! I read all the time - even when I think, I see words scrolling across my minds eye. And yes, I'll read ANYTHING depending on scarcity of material.

Audiobooks seem to be the most cited example of not having read the book. Hearing vs seeing?

Literary Feline said...

Reading is like breathing to me too. Like you, I do have my preference of format, preferring paper books to other forms, but I do not discount the other formats as reading materials. I think it's up to the individual what he or she wants to read.