While wandering around Facebook a while back, author Jane Davis put up a very interesting post, asking the question:
How Do You Read?
By this, she didn’t mean print, or audio, or eBooks. No, this is exactly what she posted:
“After last week’s Twitter debate about whether people constantly hear thoughts or whether their thoughts are silent, there is now a debate about reading. The question has been put about whether people (a) read words (in their head, silently) (b) hear words as they read them, or (c) see words, as in a full-blown cinematic experience.”
Well (thought I to myself), I didn’t even know there was a twitter debate about either topic. But the follow-up debate certainly sounded like one that would merit a discussion post (and one I could do with a little poll. This will be my first attempt. I hope it works)!
To begin with, you might want to know Jane’s answer. She said, “I’m an (a) but can force myself into (b) if there is noise around me when I’m reading or when proof-reading. I had never even considered the possibility of category (c). If this is you, I’m envious!”
As for me?
I originally thought that I was only a (b), but now that I think about it, I’m actually a (c). I think this is partially because of my mild dyslexia. If I could be an (a) and read just the words – without hearing them in my head, as if I was reading them out loud – I’m certain I’d be a much faster reader. But I can’t; my mild dyslexia means that my brain can’t process words quickly enough to just see them and register them in my brain without essentially hearing them at the same time.
This question actually made me become more aware of my reading. That’s when I realized that yes, I can see pictures in my brain while I’m reading. Of course, I can’t see everything that goes on, and some texts just don’t have any visuals about them. But if the author is descriptive enough in their prose, I can see some of the action, maybe even most of it! Moreover, if the author doesn’t let me visualize the action in my head, I’m not going to like the book.
Case in point: Right now, I’m reading a biographical, historical fiction novel that I’m totally adoring (and I can “see” so much of the action, it is amazing). When I told someone about this book, they informed me that there’s another author who is also about to release a fictional book about the same historical person. Since I’m finding this person to be so fascinating, I decided to read the “look inside” excerpt of that other book on Amazon. Well… sorry but… I couldn’t picture the action in those opening few pages at all; the writing just wasn’t vivid enough for me to do this. That obviously means I’m almost surely not going to bother to read that other novel.
By the way, this is probably why I can be very critical of movies that are made from beloved books. If the actors don’t match what I imagined, or “saw” in my head when I read the book, for me that could ruin the whole film.
So, what about you?
Please answer this poll or tell me your answers in the comments.
This post is my third entry in the 2020 Discussion Challenge, hosted by Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction and Shannon @ It Starts at Midnight!