I adore reading, which is in turn a catalyst for my writing, and I am eager to share my passion, yet it often appears that many people seem unable to appreciate reading for what it is, and prefer other forms of occupation. Reading is often defined as a complex cognitive process of decoding symbols in order to construct or derive meaning. This appears a highly structured activity, and what I believe can be wholly rewarding – the potential to assign print on a page to a reality within the extent of our own sense is amazing! When this is compared with other activities such as watching cartoons – in which visual stimulus is provided – I believe reading may appear somewhat threatening to those who are not regularly accustomed. There are those who assume that those who do not read are ‘lazy’ and ‘ill-educated’, but in this article, considering developed literary criticism, I aim to show that this may not necessarily be the case.
Considering the allusion to cartoons I think a major factor in my love of reading was due to my dad reading lyrical poems to be from an early age. My favourite was ‘From a Railway carriage’ by Robert Louis Stevenson, (the infamous ‘faster than fairies, faster than witches!’) which holds the rhythm of an accelerating train. As a three year old child, I was fascinated, and even if I did not understand all the words, through this rhythmic craft I held an immediate sense of company.
It appears well-recognised that many people enjoy personal leisure activities that maintain one’s personal space and autonomy – for example taking a hot bath or watching a film, often viewed as an important part of relaxation, in contrast to the often confined working environment. It could also be seen that reading, especially of novels and poems, is an individual activity which maintains personal space. Yet, what can be considered as happening when we read? In the above given activities it is perhaps the case that the people involved think that what they think also, at the time, indeed belongs to them– a part of their personal mental world, whilst satisfying the personal physical world also.