I often find myself wondering if the way I read is different from my friends and family who are not writers. I put off posting this for a while because I don’t want to come off as elitist or suggesting that you have to be a writer to understand how an author crafts a story, but I can’t help but notice the way I study a book while I’m reading it. While I have focused my professional writing on articles, online content and reviews, the desire to write (and eventually publish) fiction is still there. I love trying to piece together how a book was written, why a scene was important or why a character talks a certain way. It all adds to the story for me.
The great thing about reading is that we can all pull messages out of a story, but do people who have no interest or background in writing (or I suppose literary theory) study the piece as they read? Do they read a great line or scene and think “Wow! I love the way the author _____!” or “What a great way to show the reader how this character looks!”? I’m not sure. I wonder how much time other readers spend absorbed in the story, and how much time (if any) is focused on studying the story. I know for me, the two go hand in hand. There are times when all I am doing is living through the words on the page. Other times, I’m taking in the story but I have more of an out of body sort of sensation going on. I am reading the story, but I’m also taking mental notes on how the author “makes it work”.
While there are times I wish I could turn off my internal editor, it’s just part of how I read. Not having those observations would mean I would take away less from the story. I suppose it’s like any other field of study. I listen to my brother preform at a live concert and hear the beauty in the song, become wrapped up in the experience, where as my brother wouldcritique his performance and note things I never would have known about.
I’m not sure why it matters to me how others read a book. I just like observing how people think, what they gain from the things they are exposed to, and how we can all relate despite our different viewpoints.