Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The Act of Reading

While at a faculty meeting today, I stole a few minutes to reread Ursula Le Guin's article in Harper's Magazine entitled Staying Awake: Notes on the Alleged Decline of Reading. There is a particularly noteworthy section where she talks about the act of reading. A portion of it resonated with me and reminded me of something John Green said in the talk he gave at UR last fall. John talked about reading as an act of negotiation between writer and reader, in which the reader engages in quiet conversation with the author. Here's Le Guin's spin on the same idea.
A book won't move your eyes for you the way images on a screen do. It won't move your mind unless you give it your mind, or your heart unless you put your heart in it. It won't do the work for you. To read a story well is to follow it, to act it, to feel it, to become it--everything short of writing it, in fact. Reading is not "interactive" with a set of rules or options, as games are; reading is actual collaboration with the writer's mind.
I think this might have been what Sara was getting at yesterday when she wrote I don't need you to be me.

1 comment:

  1. I've read almost all of Ursula Le Guin's older work, so I'd love to go hear what she has to say. And this reminds me that she has all that new work that I need to catch up on. :)