Google+ The Introverted Reader: Booking Through Thursday

Booking Through Thursday

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Suggested by Janet:

I’ve seen this quotation in several places lately. It’s from Sven Birkerts’ ‘The Gutenberg Elegies: The Fate of Reading in an Electronic Age’:

“To read, when one does so of one’s own free will, is to make a volitional statement, to cast a vote; it is to posit an elsewhere and set off toward it. And like any traveling, reading is at once a movement and a comment of sorts about the place one has left. To open a book voluntarily is at some level to remark the insufficiency either of one’s life or one’s orientation toward it.”

To what extent does this describe you?

I can't say that I'm crazy about the wording of the quote because it makes readers sound like losers desperate to escape from their own lives. I'm very happy with my life, but it is nice to get out of my own head and into someone else's for a little while in the pages of a book. I can't actually know what it's like to live in Tudor England or what it's like to grow up on the streets or even to travel as much as I would like. Reading makes it possible for me to vicariously experience all of this and more. I know my own stories, and I'm generally happy to tell them to anyone who will listen. Reading lets me share in other people's stories.  I would say that it's curiosity and a healthy imagination that let's me know there's more to Life than my small part of it.  I want to find out how others live.  Even fictional characters have something to teach us if we just let them.

What do you think?
Jennifer G.


  1. I agree. Wanting to escape in historical fiction, fantasy, or whatever genre you prefer isn't because life is insufficient. Here's my answer -

  2. This is a really wierdly worded quote, I've decided. I mean, I think it actually may be applicaple to many writers (capote, dickens, wilde, irving) as they have deep, dark, weird things to write about but i think as far as readers go, they're less disturbed than all of that. :O)

  3. I do use reading to escape from some things. I read while working out so I see it as using the books to change my mental scenery while on a stationary piece of equipment.

  4. Well stated. The wording, intentional or not, makes readers sound desperate. My BTT:


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