October 6, 2013

Sunday Salon: Reading as a Solitary AND a Social Activity


Reading is generally a solitary activity.  You find a book, a comfy place to sit, open the pages, and immerse yourself into the story’s world.  You read to yourself, inside your own head.  It’s a one-person game. 

Now, with that said, reading can be made into a communal activity.  You can share passages aloud to your significant other.  You can join a book club and all read the same book at once for a shared experience and then discuss said experiences.  You can even create your own blog where you write about your said experience with said book (and even said book club discussion) and share it with the entire world.  

You can discuss your love of literature on social media.  You can participate in readathons, like the upcoming annual Dewey’s 24-Hour Readathon (which you should sign up for if you haven’t yet), and know that you are simultaneously reading with hundreds of other people.  It’s great fun.

For me, the joy and pleasure I derive from reading comes not from just the solitary experience, but also the shared experience.  I love curling up by myself in my big semi-comfy armchair with a blanket and one of the cats and just falling into the pages of Whitman or Austen or Rowling, but I also love that when I want to, I can come and bug all of you with how much I loved (or sometimes didn’t love) the story.
I can dissect with you the major plot points, the character’s positives and negatives, and whether the author uses metaphors brilliantly or has an urgent need for a thesaurus in his life.  

I love that you guys care what I have to say.  Somebody values my opinion!  Hooray!  I love that I have formed honest-to-goodness friendships through blogging that make me care what YOU have to say, too.  I value your opinions on books so much that you literally influence whether or not I will read a book.  Sometimes we don’t realize the power we hold over each other, but we do, we do influence each other’s reading habits.  And I love that.  I love that I have people in my life who I can share my love of reading with.  I love that there is a forum in which I can take a solitary activity and transform it into a social activity.  It fits my personality very well.  It makes me feel unified as a person somehow since I am an extroverted person but have an interest that is decidedly not an extroverted hobby.



What about you?  
Do you find that sharing your love of books makes you happier?  
Are you naturally introverted and this is a way to socialize for you while sharing an interest?  
Are you naturally extroverted and this is a way to make reading feel less lonely?  
How has the world of blogging and social media affected your reading habits?

18 comments:

  1. I do like to discuss books I've read and like hearing what other have to say about the same books. All part of the fun of reading, I agree.

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  2. The only thing is that many of the books I read are older books (not old enough to be "classic" usually but still old enough that they're not being discussed much anymore) so I'm not always able to share the experience with others like you. So that's why for me, most of the time, it is a solitary experience. My only sharing is on Instagram, really: "Look, here's what I'm reading." :)

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    1. See, we need to remedy that and have a readalong for one of your old fogey books you are reading so you can share. :D

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  3. I do love to discuss books! I pass mine on to my mom and after she reads them we almost always talk about them.

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    1. See, I would love to do that, Kathy, but my mom and I rarely read the same type of books. Same as my older sister. Maybe I can send them to my younger sister but now that she is moving to L.A. that seems kind of expensive. Perhaps library books.

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  4. Amen. I get quite annoyed when people emphasize the solitary aspect of reading. Doesn't every activity have a social aspect and a solitary aspect? For me, however, reading is very social.

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    1. I guess it depends on whether you like the solitary part, the social part, or both.

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  5. I'm a solitary reader but have learnt to share afterwards. Social media has changed how I share and write reviews (cheeky link to a fuller response! http://nordie.wordpress.com/2013/10/06/lost-in-books-sunday-salon-reading-as-a-solitary-and-a-social-activity/ )

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  6. I'm naturally introverted and love the way that book blogging and surrounding events as well as my real life book club allow me to be social with my favorite hobby.

    Joy's Book Blog

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  7. I like that I can escape the sometimes overly complicated world by reading a good book - all by myself - with the doors closed. However, once I finish the book I would love the opportunity to discuss the characters and themes and writing style with other literary-minded people. Unfortunately, I have never found a book club near me so I rely completely on social media sites like GoodReads and book blogs. I feel these social interactions help complete the reading experience.

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  8. I come from a family of readers, but they don't like to talk about the books they read. So I'm definitely glad social media and my blog provides an outlet for that, because I LOVE discussing books.

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    1. They don't like to talk about them? Ick. ;)

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  9. Reading used to be a completely solitary activity for me. Then my husband and I started reading books together and found that it was a really fun hobby for us to share. My book blog has opened up so much dialogue and I love it. I've participated in a lot of blogger related events and met great people so I'm now seeing how great it is to make reading a social thing too.

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    1. I'd love to do that with John but the only books he reads are like manuals on how to do stuff.

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  10. I love how reading can be solitary and social. As an introvert I enjoy it as a solitary activity and time to myself but I adore being able to talk about the books I've read. That's why I love book blogging and all the amazing people around the internet :)

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  11. Yes, I'm an introvert too, and I need it as a solitary activity. I've tried book clubs but I find them stressful after a while. I prefer to talk a little about the books I read, sometimes sharing what I love, and I really enjoy hearing what other people are reading and enjoying. I share books I love with my family and friends, and with my blog, I get some social activity out of what is a necessarily solitary activity for me. Good questions, Becca! I enjoyed your post and the discussion.

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