Wednesday, June 4, 2008

BTT: What is Reading, Fundamentally?

(From 29 May 2008): 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.
The dictionary defines 'reading' as: 'the action or skill of reading written or printed matter silently or aloud'. I suppose this would disregard other forms of storytelling, such as audiobooks etc, but in this technological age, I am inclined to count it as a form of reading.

If I personally listened to an audio book, I would add it to my 'reading for 2008' list as a book that I had read, but I would have to add somewhere that it was an audiobook, because there's something almost a little fraudulent in saying you've 'read' a book when you actually listened to it. I don't think I could ever really consider it 'read' until I had read it in printed form. But that's just me. I have no problem with other people saying they've 'read' it and leaving it at that.

I've tried listening to audiobooks in the past, but I find it very difficult to concentrate. If I go for a walk, I'll be focusing on things around me and then realise I've missed a good portion of a chapter or two. It's too difficult to go back and find where I was up to, so I usually just give up. Ideally, I would have to listen to an audiobook just sitting down, and not doing anything else - which, to me, defeats the purpose of an audiobook (namely, to listen to a book while getting something else done at the same time!)

As for comics, graphic novels etc, of course it's reading! I read ebooks ocassionally and have absolutely no problem counting them as books. It's still printed matter - it just exists electronically rather than in hard copy.

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