It has been a while since I read a book on my own accord. Instead, I read literature that is assigned to me, and while they are usually insightful and interesting, I find myself missing out on the possibility for experiencing the text as it may have been intended. Perhaps this is due to the perpetual pauses I take in order to add my own personal markings to the margins, or it may be because I am thinking of what quotes I want to use in my assignments. Either way, I rarely read these pieces the same way that I would had it not been assigned to me. This thought initially occurred when my professor had us read this Gothic piece of literature and told us that, at the time, it was considered a “frightening” read. Whether or not that was the author’s intention, the piece did elicit an unsettling feeling for the audience. However, since I was reading to analyze the text, I neglected to experience similar feelings.
A couple of weeks ago, I read a play for my creative writing class and of course, I went into it with my pen in hand (as I always do), prepared to underline any important dialogue. It was up until Act I, Scene Three that I stopped pausing to write. Enthralled by the characters, I immersed myself in the story and simply read. During my class’s discussion of the play, I was in complete disagreement over the predictability of the ending. For me, I was not anticipating or even thinking about what those last lines the writer chose were going to be. Now, this could be due to my own obliviousness, but I want to imagine it was because I inadvertently read the play without any specific intentions. This is to say, I was not dissecting the writer’s work and lingering on each line with the purpose of unearthing various symbols, images, or deeper meanings. Rather, I was captivated by the dialogue, enveloped by the character’s banter, and crumpling the corner of each page in my haste to find out what happens next.
I find this interaction to be the most interesting difference in how one approaches a text read for leisure compared to a text that is approached critically. While I enjoy both, I sometimes notice how little I read without this analytical approach, and I wonder if I’ve missed the opportunity to become emotionally taken by these readings.
Since then, I’ve been inspired to read my own books without the burden of looking for deeper meanings. I think reading to escape is often second to other forms of entertainment, although it is no less enchanting or enviable.
Angela Tapia | Staff Editor
Photo credited to: Stacy Javier