If you're visiting a fanfiction review blog, the odds are you're something of a reader already. So, here's something I've been turning over in my head for the last few days re. reading. Below the break, as always.
Recently, I was hanging out with a friend. After some small talk and a couple games of cribbage, we reached the inevitable point in the get together where "What do you want to do?" "I dunno, what do you want to do?" began being bandied back and forth. A thoroughly typical exchange, to that point.
But then my friend asked me a question that broke the routine; "What you do for fun when we're not hanging out?" he asked.
Being me, the first thing that popped to my mind was reading. "Yeah, but that's not something we can do together," he said, and I nodded in agreement. Eventually, we went to see a movie.
Later on, as I thought back on the conversation, I found myself wondering about his immediate rejection of reading as a leisure activity on anything other than an individual level, and my unblinking acceptance of the same. Why can't reading be a social activity? And the more I thought about it, the more I realized that for me, it often is.
When I read for pleasure, it's often while sitting in the living room. My mom is frequently at the couch immediately next to it, and we've spent a lot of time reading together. Now, we're not reading aloud, or even reading the same books, which is why I didn't immediately realize that we weren't just each reading alone in each others presence (the way one might read while sitting on a bus, for example). But we are reading together.
Whenever she or I come across an interesting or amusing passage, we'll stop and read or summarize it for each other. Often we'll describe what we're reading when we've picked up a new book, and often we'll end up chatting (or sometimes, arguing) about what an author has said or assumed. True, we'll also lapse into lengthy silences when neither of us has anything worth saying or quoting, but the point is that we're engaging each other while reading--reading together.
I compare that to the movie my friend and I saw (it was Skyfall, by the way--I'm sure it was great if you like that sort of thing, but I prefer my Bond witty, unflappable, poised, and outfitted with ridiculous gadgets). We sat next to each other, so there was at least physical proximity involved, but spacing was about the only social aspect of the entire experience. We each spent two hours completely avoiding any sort of eye contact or communication, in a setting which discourages both by turning down the lights, providing a constant visual spectacle, accompanied by loud sounds, all of which you're not supposed to speak during.
Now, I'm not trying to rain on movies. I'm just saying that, if I wanted to hang out with a friend, wouldn't a movie be just about the worst place to do so? And yet, if someone offers me a book and a DVD, the book I'll take home and read on my own. The movie? I'll probably ask when we can watch it.
And there's nothing wrong with watching a movie with friends. But the thing is, I'd have enjoyed Skyfall no less if I'd seen it alone.
Reading with my mom, on the other hand? That's something I can't do alone.