What-I-Wonder-Wednesday – How can the act, and art, of reading differ so much?

I could almost hear my wife shaking her head, as my mother described her reading style last weekend – Mum used to devour books in a single sitting but then go back and read them a second time, to pick up the stuff she missed the first time around.

That of course is also the way that I read a book whereas to Shirley that’s a travesty. And my son Alan would no doubt agree.bookstore

They read a book carefully, committing all the details to memory, and savouring a book in small bites rather than gorging on words.

As for my daughter, Lyndal, she’s somewhere in between. But she’s also a poetry reader, preferring that to prose – so her mind is wired differently again!

So what makes us read the way we do? And what makes a subject matter appeal to one, but not another?

I hold my Dad responsible for my taste in fiction, based as it is firmly in the speculative range of SF and Fantasy – he provided me with my first ‘grown-up’ short story: Theodore Cogswell’s ‘Wall Around the World’, and the first novel I ever read – Roger Zelazny’s ‘Damnation Alley

But my Mum is behind the way I read.

I go back to a book again and again as if to an old friend, sharing the delights of shared experience – whereas when my wife has read a book, she rarely goes back.

Her argument is that she knows what’s going to happen and so she wonders why anyone would go into a story when they already knows the spoilers!

I wonder what it is our psyches that makes us approach literature so differently?

kindleAnd that doesn’t even touch on the dead-tree vs e-reader debate.

I couldn’t tell you the last time I actually bought a paper book – I love my Kindle. It lets me carry a hundred books or more with me anywhere I go.

On cruises, on planes, on buses, at bars … wherever I have a half hour to spare, I can read without needing light, or space, or a bag to carry all my books.

And because I can link all my books together via the cloud, I don’t even need the Kindle itself – my phone is an e-reader that is always with me.

So how about you – is it the tactile experience and heady smell of a book, or the convenience and ubiquity of an e-reader that gets you going?

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