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Suggested by Janet:

I’ve seen this quotation in several places lately. It’s from Sven Birkerts’ ‘The Gutenberg Elegies: The Fate of Reading in an Electronic Age’:

“To read, when one does so of one’s own free will, is to make a volitional statement, to cast a vote; it is to posit an elsewhere and set off toward it. And like any traveling, reading is at once a movement and a comment of sorts about the place one has left. To open a book voluntarily is at some level to remark the insufficiency either of one’s life or one’s orientation toward it.”

To what extent does this describe you?

This week's question is a great one! Reading is such an individual thing, and I definitely do not agree that to open a book voluntarily is at some level to remark the insufficiency of one's life. While one might find it more of a work (or a chore, gasp!), the other might find it an escapism; a form of entertainment which also allows them to learn and to delve into another's world and experience what we might not have experience in real life. Besides this, reading also strengthen our vocabulary... and the list goes on.

Don't you think words are simply magical and powerful as they could evoke emotions in us?

What about you?

20 Responses
  1. Ana S. Says:

    I disagree with that Sven Birkerts quote in so many ways :P Unless by "an insufficiency" he means that, as we're not immortal or endlessly changeable, we can't possibly "really" experience all the things that books allow us to experience. But I disagree with the assumption that reading experiences are somehow less valid than "real" life. They different, obviously, but I find them just as enriching.

  2. anthonynorth Says:

    You've raised a good point with the escapism.
    You'll find mine here.

  3. Anonymous Says:

    The remarks seems a little judgemental, no? Enjoying an escape does not mean there is insufficiency in your life. It does mean you are interested in the world that books open up to you.

  4. Jennifer Says:

    I agree. I found the quote to be extremely narrow in scope. My BTT:

  5. Barbara H. Says:

    I agree with you. The word "insufficiency" in Sven Birkerts’ quote bothered me.

  6. Janet Says:

    His wording bothered me too, but the more I think about it the more I think he has a point. (Probably that's why his wording makes me flinch...)

  7. Bibliobabe Says:

    I thought the quote was interesting - I do read to escape - but more relaxing escape, not 'I hate my life escape'. Hehe.

    Here's mine:

  8. Julia Says:

    This is an interesting..I do read to escape but not because I hate my life kinda way but just to be alone and have a relaxing day. I was kinda bother by the quotes in Sven Birkerts but then again he may or may not have a point *shrug*

  9. Heidenkind Says:

    Well, I think it has more to do with the fact that by reading, you're entering into someone else's headspace and allowing yourself to see the world through their eyes. So you're acknowledging that your life and your life experiences might not hold all the answers to what you want to know and experience, thus being "insufficient."

  10. Melody Says:

    Nymeth - I agree with your points! :)

    Stacy - Exactly!

    Jennifer - I'm sure most of us booklovers will disagree with Sven Birkerts' quotes!

    Bibliobabe - I'm with you there!

    Julia - Yes, it's definitely not the "I hate my life" kind of way.

    Tasha - By saying I read to experience what I might not have experience in real life, I don't mean my life is "insufficient" but that it allows me to be more open and accepting since I might not experience what the characters may have experienced. I hope that makes sense! :P

  11. Veens Says:

    Reading is remarkable thing and not all have the appetite for it. Looking to escape into a world we never knew existed, is not insufficiency in anyway!

  12. Barbara Says:

    this quote has got people thinking and discussing -- that's what books do!

    Here's my answer

  13. Violet Says:

    Absolutely, we do agree on all the points :)

  14. The Bookworm Says:

    I have to disagree with most of the quote, the part about 'insufficiency of one's life'. I do think reading is a form of escape, but a good one! And like you say "experience what we might not have experience in real life".

  15. Darlyn Says:

    i'm not a very talkative person and the only thing that makes me at ease is when i read. i found reading a lot easier to figure out rather than talking. pathetic. right?

  16. Andreea Says:

    I agree with everything you've said, Melody!

  17. bermudaonion Says:

    I'm one of those who read for entertainment or escapism. The written word does so much more for my imagination than video does.

  18. Care Says:

    "Words are magical and powerful." Yes, wonderful words!

  19. Alice Says:

    Hi Melody, just like the comment I left on Violet's, I'm going to copy it and put it here again (I'm copying it directly from my blog's sidebar). I read because...

    "Books give us pleasure not because they make us comfortable, though some good ones may, but because they entertain us, they make us laugh, they make us cry; they inform, persuade, disturb, convince, seduce us; they make us think, speculate, see - and we recognize what we see as true, not as the truth but as a truth in the writer's fabulous construction that corresponds to what we have observed in ourselves, or others, or in the world at large, or can conceive of observing." - William McPherson

  20. Anonymous Says:

    Words are really powerful. Hitler is an example.

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