Never Say Never


How often have you heard readers say things like

I never…re-read a book
…read fiction
…read historical books
…read old books
…read on the toilet
…use the library

I’ll confess mine from the list later.

These strong statements come from some of the meekest people I know.  I think possibly this is the only time they would ever use the word “never” to another person.  It’s surprising, and when you challenge them they seem unaware of the strong view they’ve just expressed.  But contradict them and you will be treated as if you have personally affronted them.  Beware!

I think this may be because reading is a very intimate and personal experience.  The book is only half of the story.  Whenever you read you bring yourself to the book and your reading style, your experiences and your outcomes are entirely unique.  Therefore when you discuss reading you are really revealing a little of yourself, it’s a risk.  The private intimate nature of reading means you can be entirely selfish, have it your way, do it your way, read what you like and no one need know or comment on it.

Engraving of a Reading Group.

Engraving of a Reading Group. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

But when asked for your opinion, it is not surprising then that, you make the most dictatorial statements!  And if someone doesn’t agree, then they are personally attacking you!   It is strange then to think that discussing reading is viewed as such a good and safe topic of conversation.

We’re all individuals, and I increasingly come to the conclusion that we cannot know how anything feels to anyone else and should not guess.  I don’t even know if the blue of the sky today as I perceived it, was the same blue to you.  So we are individuals trying to make bridges, we are separate and are constantly reminded of that fact by our inner voices.  But frequently in books we come across something that chimes a common note with how our own brain works, someone else thinks like that too (hopefully this doesn’t happen when you’re reading Dexter).  This is a very intimate relationship with each book you read, and it is unique, no one else will feel exactly the same reading the book as you.

So, meek and not so meek readers, are you prepared to take a risk and give of yourself?  What are your “nevers”?

Mine in the list above are…

I never read non-fiction (I’m a bit embarrassed by that)

I never re-read books (There a so many new experiences waiting)

Go on, share yours.



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