For the Love of Reading

Friday, November 27, 2009


Do you love reading or do you love books? To answer this question for herself, City University of New York dean Ann Kirschner set out to read the Charles Dickens classic Little Dorrit four ways – as a paperback, on her Kindle, on her iPhone and as an audio book. We spoke with her about it earlier this year.

Comments [8]

Ann Kirschner from New York

Just some nuance to add to this interesting and thoughtful discussion...

I wouldn't say that audiobooks are the same as paper books. But I would still honor them all in the category of reading, albeit a different shade.

When I listen to Manon (as I am now, on a Met broadcast on XM Online) I am indeed listening to Massenet. But every experience of the opera is slightly different: hearing the DVD vs. reading the score, vs. live performance.

And one point of clarification: I did not read Little Dorrit four times. I read it once, but switched from format to format by circumstance or curiousity.

Dec. 05 2009 01:29 PM
Chris Gray from New Haven, CT

Back to the issue of content; as I have been building the case for, allowing the public to experience literature has been being carried out by acting troupes for centuries, further enhanced by the medium of film. While generations of English teachers equated this experience of literature to Cliff Notes or, more horridly, to Classics Illustrated comics of an earlier age, I think the film of Irving's World According To Garp shows how, when handled well, this medium can enhance the experience of a book and help propel a career.

I surely knew nothing about the author until I saw it and, frankly, reading it is now would be just as beside the point as reading Water for Elephants would be after hearing the excellent talking book version. Little Dorritt four times over? Not for me, even with Dickens.

Dec. 04 2009 03:51 AM

for the love of reading,i prefer to having the paperback. how to say, electronical reading may be more comfortable or convienent, but like the audio reading, you are controlled by the narrator, you are impressed by others. it is meaningful to have a truely book in your hand when you really want to read something

Dec. 03 2009 07:22 AM
Greg from New Hampshire


Last comment should have referenced David not rick.

Dec. 02 2009 12:56 PM
Greg from New Hampshire


Interesting point, but I think you may be taking definition 2 overly broadly. It is my understanding that reading, as an oral interpretation of written language, refers to the act performed by the speaker. An author, speaking a section of his book aloud, for instance, is performing a reading.

That said, while I disagree with the terms used, Ann Kirschner's assertion that listening to an audio book is the same as reading is an interesting attempt to broaden what we think of as the experience of a book.

Dec. 02 2009 09:57 AM
David from Rhode Island

LOL, nice one Ann. Since you didn't want to correct Rick on the use of the word "reading" here, I will. From the dictionary:

read-ing  /ˈridɪŋ/ Show Spelled Pronunciation [ree-ding] –noun
1. the action or practice of a person who reads.
2. Speech. the oral interpretation of written language.

I think definition 2 covers it, there is a reason it is called a "reading". Just to spell it our further, conventional use of the word reading can mean literally to visually look at words on a page and understand them, but it can also mean, in the case where you assume the person is literate, the act of experiencing a book or similar item. If I listened to Catch 22 as an audio book and some time later someone asked me if I had "read" Catch 22, I would say yes without hesitation and without feeling the need to say "oh, but actually I listened to the audiobook".

Nov. 29 2009 10:37 PM
Ann Kirschner from New York

Rick is right! Given the growing sophistication of voice recognition software, talking is indeed becoming something akin to writing.

Thanks for pointing me in the right direction. Best of all, I'm half serious.

Nov. 29 2009 07:46 PM
Rick Evans from Massachusetts

Dean Ann Kirschner's assertion that listening to an audio book is reading is ABSURD.

When you read a story book to your toddler is he reading? If you tell your toddler a story is he reading? If I listen to the president deliver a speech written by a speech writer am I reading? Of course not. There's a reason we describe people who cannot interpret the words they see on a written page as being illiterate.

Will dean Kirschner next assert that talking is writing?

Nov. 29 2009 07:44 AM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.