Her eyes explored everything – the Beidermeier furniture, the piano, the old grandfather clock, the pictures, the bookcases, the plates and cutlery on the table. When I left her alone to prepare pudding, she was not at the table when I came back. She had gone from room to room and was standing at my father’s study. I leaned quietly against the doorpost and watched her. She let her eyes drift over the bookshelves that filled the walls, as if she were reading a text. Then she went to a shelf, raised her right index finger chest high and ran it slowly along the backs of the books, moved to the next shelf, ran her finger further along, from one spine to the next, pacing off the whole room. She stopped at the window, looked out into the darkness, at the reflection of the bookshelves, and at her own.

Bernhard Schlink, The Reader (1997).

There is also that kind of reading which is just looking at books. From time to time – I can’t say what dictates the impulse – I just pull a chair up in front of a section of my library. An expectant tranquillity settles over me. I move my eyes slowly, reading the spines, or identifying the title by its colour and positioning. Just to see my books, to note their presence, their proximity to other books, fills me with a sense of futurity.

Sven Birkerts, ‘Note from a confession’ (1987).

I think that would be the kind of reading I am most proficient at. :p
I never knew that doing that could be considered as a ‘kind of reading’, although that does happen to be something I find myself enjoy doing quite often. I really do find it very therapeutic, to just be able to stop for a moment every now and then, and take a good look at my dear books sitting on the shelves (or stacked on the floor at times), acknowledging their presence.

So that’s a comfort to know, that I can at least be reading them in that way, while my dear long-suffering friends wait patiently for their day and time to come, when their due homage is paid.
At least now I don’t have to feel so bad about my ‘incurable condition‘ as before. 😉


2 thoughts on “Friday Feature: A Different Kind of Reading

  1. I never thought of this as “reading” either, but I certainly do it often enough. My own shelves, other people’s shelves, all the bookstores and libraries I frequent. Being around books makes me happy, and I don’t even have to open the cover. (Though doing that, too, makes me even happier!)


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