As you may have gathered from my previous postings I’ve had some time to do some reading and the access required to read quite widely.
I’ve often thought that reading was the one thing that really indicated the sort of person I could likely get along with. This is a bit fatuous in truth, since many of those who read a lot read mainly slushy or procedural nonsense, which I have never taken too, but then again, on balance I suppose that even a person who reads only banal detective mysteries or trite romances would still be better to get along with than someone who simply did not read.
But ideally there’s a person who reads widely. Perhaps they have a favourite genre, maybe a few, but likely read around it as well, reading books they know might challenge them, or those recommended to them or simply those that take their fancy.
The traits of the reader in any case should remain the same.
Mindful and patient. They can focus on the moment, the word, and have the patience to let a story unfurl over hours. I believe that inner speech, when one speaks to oneself, rattles along as something like three thousand words a minute whereas reading speed doesn’t reach a tenth of that. That deliberate slowing to a narrative is a form of dramatic empathy that I think probably has resonances elsewhere.
Interested in or affected by language. The power of words is significant for them. The use of tense or sentence structure, word choice or what have you is able to stimulate internal performances to add character to their conjured representation of what is having.
This is something, I suppose, like the way we pick up on body language and other non-verbal cues to supplement out communications with other people and again, shows a certain empathy, a commitment to the otherness. Further, word choice, playful or fearful or simply well thought out has its own semiotics to decode. There is the symbol and that which is signified. Interestingly our own interpretations of these symbols are often more important than any intended meaning.
Willing to suspend disbelief. Or: Willing to pretend for a long time that something we very much know does not matter actually does matter enough just by virtue of us pretending it matters. We’re giving the writer a certain amount of our trust. You may waste our time after all, but we’ll play along, as long as we enjoy the ride. We assume the writer’s motive are to engage, educate and entertain to some degree, and that’s enough.
In all cases the reader brings a certain willingness to the conversation with the book, albeit one where they do little of the talking.
I suspect I would be just the sort of person I would get along with at the moment. I’ve been hammering through Hemmingway and Heller, Hardy and Huxley, Hawthorne and Herbert, and that’s just the H’s.
Homer beckons. Time for his odyssey.