Monday, December 18, 2006

"Reading" a book

While reading Misquoting Jesus- The Story Behind Who Changed The Bible and Why the author goes into great detail to describe the differences between reading a book and hearing it read. Due to the very low literacy rates in ancient times he describes three different meanings that may apply to the phrase, "I read the book."
1. Reading it silently to yourself. This is the commonly accepted modern interpretation of the phrase and needs no additional explaination.
2. Reading it out loud so that others may hear it. My wife reads books every night to our kids.
3. Not actually reading the book but simply hearing the book read. My kids can be said to have read the book because the heard my wife read it.
Understandably this is the more disputed version of read. It may imply some level of literacy on the "reader" that they don't neccesarily have. I can see how people would be confused if I were to tell people that my 4-year old read a certian book. But if the doubt about a certian person's literacy in not present does it matter which of the three definitions we use? The reason I ask is that I frequently read in either the first definition or the third definition. To allow me to multi-task while doing some of the more repetative task I do at work I will frequently "read" books on CD or MP3. When I read at home I prefer to stick to the first definition. Occasionally I will do both. I will "read" in the car or at work to the CD or MP3s and then "read" the same passages silently to myself. I typically resurve this technique to books I really enjoy or really want to study more deeply.
Out of a sense of being intellectually honest with readers of this blog I need to confess that many of the books I have "read" and reviewed on this blog I have simply heard read to me. About half of them I have also read silently to myself. And three or four of them I have done both. Short of this confession I don't plan on making a distiction between these different definitions from now on unless comments convince me that I need to do so. I enjoy all three types of reading and gain different perspectives by each.

1 comment:

  1. I don't know that it's a huge deal unless the reader is terrible. My wife and I disagree about the reader for Life of Pi, but usually it's not an issue. Though sometimes I like to point out when a reader is particularly great!