The Experience of Reading

Six years ago, Professor Eric Schwitzgebel wrote a piece on the experience of reading. What he meant by this is how you experience the reading, describing what your brain does when you read the text. He says that there are three primary ways to experience the text – visual imagery, a voice saying the words in your head, and the actual awareness of the pixels on the screen or the ink on the paper.

That’s simplifying a bit, but you can read the full post here:

The experience of reading.

It’s probably more of a combination of things for most people. I tend to hear the words and conjure up images. My imagery is pedestrian, if what I see in movies is any indicator of what others see.

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2 thoughts on “The Experience of Reading

  1. Interesting. I find that I’m in the b/c camp, I think. Once I get moving, I’m seeing the story and interpreting the words, but without voice. I’m not really sure how to explain it, except that I stop seeing words and begin seeing the scene. A book that can’t allow me to freely visualize the world (overly descriptive, not descriptive enough or bad description), are those that I’ll put down pretty quickly.

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    • The description problem exists for my wife. She says she likes Stephen King plots, but does not like his writing. “He’s too descriptive, I skip a lot of that. If his plots weren’t great, I wouldn’t read him.” She’s tough, that wife.

      I find that I’m sometimes lazy, if something is too descriptive but I find myself losing the nub of the description, I may move on and just picture something generic. Just give me the gist of the situation – they’re hiding behind an object where they could be seen if the other person looked but they’re not looking. Boatloads of detail, not necessary. Put me in the scene, tell me a few things there, then let me as the reader do the heavy lifting of filling in the details.

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