What you are doing right now is astonishing: reading.
We often take it for granted, because the basic skills are gained so early. By the time we’re adults, the letters are transparent: we move straight from lines to universes. This is one reason why reading is so neglected as a craft. Like spectacles, it’s so close to us we can’t see it. Reading is also more private—it lacks the public kudos of authorship. So we hear a great deal about writing: festivals, ‘how to’ guides in newspapers and magazines, courses, alongside raves and rages about individual authors. Readers remain out of the spotlight, rarely lauded for their labours. Many aspire to being great authors—few to being great readers.
Yet without readers there are no texts. We take the sensations—ink on paper, liquid crystal behind glass—and turn them into sense. To paraphrase Spider-Man #1, 1962: with this literary power comes responsibility. We have to translate words into worlds well. Not simply to do justice to writers—though this is important, if we want to judge their achievements. We read well also because otherwise we are wasting an opportunity for new experiences: vivid or muted, consoling or confronting, arousing or disgusting.
You can read the whole thing here. It's a brief taster of the book's main course, which gives you the flavour without the (philosophically important) gristle.
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