Thursday, May 29, 2008

Booking Through Thursday- What is Reading, Fundamentally?

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 think all of these qualify as reading. I've never been successful with audiobooks- I downloaded "Brokeback Mountain" from iTunes and then fell asleep listening to it, and never tried another. Maybe it was the solemn pacing, maybe it was Campbell Scott's soothing voice, or maybe I just couldn't concentrate when I wasn't using my eyes to read, but it just didn't work. Would I try it again? I don't know. I'm not that interested in electronic forms of reading like Kindle or whatever- I'd just rather have a paper book. Reading isn't defined for me by format or genre and if you read my blog you know I read lots of comics, zines, graphic novels and manga and believe that they are important forms of literary expression, so I wouldn't exclude them from what counts as "reading".

One time I was volunteering at the Perkins School for the Blind's library, where I spent a morning rewinding returned audiobooks. They have an amazing collection- hundreds more titles than are available commercially- and rewinding them helps get them back circulating to new patrons. The team leader kept referring to them as "books" and at first it was a little jarring for me because I didn't think of the tapes as being books in the same sense as paper books, being an audio rather than visual format. Nowadays I try not to be so narrow minded!