Sunday, October 2, 2011

Sunday Salon - October 2

As part of Banned Books Week this past week, offered these thoughts on reading:

9 Things That Happen When You Read
In a series of lectures, Nobel laureate Orhan Pamuk ruminated on what goes on in the mind of a person reading a novel. His thoughts are summarized by Susan K. Perry, Ph.D. below. Do these match your experiences? The point about finishing a (great) novel and feeling that it had been written just for me particularly struck home - it maybe irrational but it's so true!
  1. We observe the general scene and follow the narrative. Whether action-filled or more literary, we read all novels the same way: seeking out the meaning and main idea.
  2. We transform words into images in our mind, completing the novel as our imaginations picture what the words are telling us.
  3. Part of our mind wonders how much is real experience and how much is imagination. "A third dimension of reality slowly begins to emerge within us: the dimension of the complex world of the novel."
  4. We wonder if the novel depicts reality as we know it. Is this scene realistic, could this actually happen?
  5. We enjoy the precision of analogies, the power of narrative, the way sentences build upon one another, the music of the prose.
  6. We make moral judgments about the characters' behavior, and about the novelist for his own moral judgments by way of the characters' actions and their consequences.
  7. We feel successful when we understand the text, and we come to feel as though it was written just for us.
  8. Our memory works hard to keep track of all the details, and in a well-constructed novel, everything connects to everything.
  9. We search for the secret center of the novel, convinced that there is one. We hunt for it like a hunter searches for meaningful signs in the forest.

Yesterday kicked off two things; National Reading Group Month and my month for Fall Feasting, a month devoted to reading books about cooking and food.  Oh sure, National Reading Group Month has all kinds of gatherings and famous authors but I'm not going to get to go to any them. So I'll be looking forward to reading and talking about food. I just got a new refrigerator and swapped out my deep freeze with the old refrigerator so I've really taken stock this weekend of the food I have on hand and my mind is racing with the possibilities. Can't wait for the books to give me the final inspiration to get in the kitchen and make some delicious meals.

What are you looking forward to reading?


  1. Oh, I loved the list of things that happen when we read. Yes, those definitely describe my reading experiences. I really love to settle into the world of the characters and enjoy having the setting "shown" to me, and I luxuriate in meeting the characters in ways that make them real.

    When an author does these things, I can savor the book and take things away from it that enrich my own world.

    Thanks for visiting my blog. I did love Cat's Eye, and have enjoyed several other books by this author, too, like The Robber Bride.

    Hope you enjoy your explorations.

  2. That list is fantastic and its so true! If the book is any good anyway.

    I LOVE cooking! I hope that you some really amazing meals :]

  3. I also think if the novel is particularly long or we had to get through for some other reason, we may look for some rationale that the time spent on the novel was worth we cherry pick the good things and forget the bad parts. Fascinating points on what we do while reading.

    Since it's October, I'll be focusing on more zombie, scary, etc type books. Love this time of year for that! Can't wait to see what you'll be cooking!

  4. I agree, and the best books are the ones that blow my mind and keep me thinking and musing about them for a long time after. I think that's part of the reason why I've liked time travel fiction (and shows) so much - they keep my mind so busy with all of the paradoxes and possibilities.

  5. I look forward to reading all sorts of creepy Halloween-y stuff this month! But food stuff sounds really quite fun too!

  6. I also found that list to be pretty true to my own experiences when reading as well. It's very cool that you posted it for us.

    I am looking forward to your cooking inspired posts! I love food, foodie books, and cooking, so I will be excited to see what you come up with here!

    I am hoping to read a few books that I got at SIBA, if I can ever finish the one that I am in the middle of now!

  7. I love that list of what happens when we read. It really is true. I love how it happens unconsciously. It isn't as if we set out to find the secret meaning or use our imagination to create pictures in our minds.

    Have fun cooking! I was a cooking fiend today, and my house smells wonderful right now. Enjoy, and make sure you share what you make!

  8. Great post! Never considered all these things were going on while I read. Have a great week :)

  9. I love these thought from Orhan Pamuk on what goes on in the reader's mind when reading a novel. How great it would have been to listen to his lectures.

    I'm looking forward to your reviews and thoughts on the food books you read this month. I also want to hear about the dishes you cook.

    I'm looking forward to reading The Three Weissmann's of are you finding it?

    I hope you're having a nice Sunday!

  10. I identified with all of it!

  11. What a great and accurate list. I particularly identify with #9.

    I'm between books right now, trying to pick something from my shelves...easier said than done.

  12. What a wonderful list. I've never thought about it before, but we do all those things! I have requests in at the library for several books I'm excited about: Goliath, A Monster Calls, River of Smoke, and Ready Player One. I'm hoping they come in soon...but not all at once :-)

  13. "The secret center of the novel." ? I don't know what this means. I just finished Go Ask Alice for Banned Books Week and think parents should read it. I wasn't too impressed at the beginning but the conflict between adults and teenagers 'understanding' each other was interesting.
    I'm now reading my third maybe fourth John Green and I don't like that I can tell who wrote it! If that makes sense. I don't think I like to pick up on patterns - it feels too same as the others. Which is probably why I don't like to read series books and do not try to read everything a favorite author has written. oh well.

  14. The two I resonate mist strongly with is the "usic of the prose" and the feeling that the novel is written just for me.

  15. I can't wait to see what you cook up. I love foodie books and posts. I've been thinking of doing a few myself. I'm looking forward to finishing up a few books this week but one I'm liking is The Grief of Others that I just started today. It's pretty good so far.

  16. Very interesting post. I would add that books provide an empathetic connection to the world. We understand that we aren't alone. Also, we learn tat the human experience is far greater than what we see on a daily basis. Books allow us to live vicariously through the eyes of people we would otherwise have no connection with.