Having A Valence of 3

I have to say that I’m three readers in one. If a book has my attention all the way down to my toes, then I can read it in no time. If a book only has me by the tails of my shirt, then it takes a little longer. If the book only tickles the hair on my chin, then it can be a long haul or it might never get read.

That being said, though, I don’t mind being yanked out of a book, whether by the reworkings of structure, say, like intentional narrative breaks, or when an author uses metafiction techniques, or throws in a bunch of ideas you have to ponder. I think part of the experience of reading a book is about you as a reader picking up on your own narrative threads and weaving in your own story into the story you are reading. Pondering ideas that I’ve never had a chance to think about is also beneficial in that it makes me complicit with the writer in provoking connections.

A book is not linear. Our minds are more like a labyrinth than a straight line, so it’s OK for a reader to step away from a book and delve into their own thoughts for a while and then go back to the book. I think the connection will still be there because you’ve become excited about a new discovery you’ve made on your own and was brought about by a book, so you want more of the same.

I think Winterson really gets at this idea with this quote: “The reader anticipates, suggests, rejects, and even re-writes, as anyone who describes a book they have not read for a long time, knows well. The process is not passive; it is a strange give and take, and the best readers, like the best books, allow the process to happen.”


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