Reading – a private or a social act?

Engineers without Fears responds to Andy’s post about creative thought and chimed quite nicely with my own thoughts about reading.

And another thing: more on social creativity
I listen to others perform & I also read their work (reading is a paradoxically private and social activity)

Reading often feels like the ultimate asynchronous conversation. By reading a book I can engage with a long dead author yet in my mind I hear his (her) voice and have my emotions touched by their words. They can make laugh, cry or shiver. I find myself debating with them, sometimes impressed by the power of their argument, sometimes enraged by it.
The same is often true of the blogs I read but there’s a subtle yet huge difference. I now have an audible voice. I can argue back or tell them how much I agree. I can thank them for their insights or rebuke them for their lack. And, just sometimes, I can enter into a longer conversation with them.
I came across this lovely quote yesterday in the Charles Lamb pub in Islington (celebrating Bastile Day but that’s another story)

What is reading, but silent conversation?
Charles Lamb

Spot on Charles, even if you said it at least 150 years ago 🙂


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