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  • Sidebar book cover thumbnail pictures are affiliate links to Amazon, and the storefront links to Blackwell's and The Book Depository are also affiliated; should you purchase a book directly through those links, I will receive a small commission. Older posts may also contain affiliate links to one of those bookshops. I am not paid to produce content and all opinions are my own.

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Barbara

Interesting questions. I'm an impression followed by analysis person. 'This is what I feel' followed by 'How does the author make me feel this?' I had a friend at university who was reading English (I wasn't) who took the opposite approach. I concluded that she didn't enjoy reading at all but looked at all texts in a purely clinical way.

Peter the Flautist

My whole waking life is spent being analytical. Other than professional book reviews or for the "Cornflower Book Group" I read for my own pleasure only and I will be honest here and say that I really have never thought whether I am analytical/impressionistic or just mindless and lazy in my general reading. I certainly don't get more pleasure when reading knowing I will have to justify my opinion of a book in written discourse.

Dark Puss

Angela Young

I'm definitely an impressionist ... but I do read differently if I know I'm going to be discussing the book in a book group, or writing about it later. Then I will make notes so that I can refer to specific passages, and my notes will be both impressionistic and analytical.

The other reason I analyse is when a passage makes a particular impression on me: if I read something I think quite wonderful, I go back and analyse the passage to see if I can work out how the author did it!

And thank you for your thanks, Cornflower, for my participation in the discussion of 'Speaking of Love'. It has been a delight to respond to the group's comments and questions and it is a great honour to find my book in such august company in this post.

Danielle

I'm definitely an impressionistic reader! Probably obvious from the number of questions I ask after the fact...:) I know I should take more care to note passages and write things down when I am reading for a book group, but I tend to do a lot of reading in places that are not conducive to note taking (like on the bus or walking on the treadmill). For me I get more out of a book by rereading and definitely by discussing the book (which usually makes me Really want to reread a book). I wouldn't mind being just a bit more disciplined in how I go about approaching a book, but I don't ever want it to feel like work. When I am writing my blog posts and if the book is a classic or an older book I also like to read a bit of criticism or will go back and reread passages depending on the type of book it is.

Anne

I am an impressionist, but if a part of the book really appeals to me or stands out in some way I probably do try to think about it in an analytical way.

Mr Cornflower

From A.N. Wilson's article I drew a number of plums, juiciest of which is probably: "Fenella, the mysterious half-Moorish woman, who pretends to be a deaf-mute in order to spy on her employer, the villainous Edward Christian..." But I have still never read Scott and to describe him as our greatest creator of character after Shakespeare seems frankly silly (Dickens? Trollope?) More relevant to Cornflower's question,
all reading of fiction requires some suspension of disbelief but one does not cease to make judgments and assessments of plot, character etc. As some of the other commentators have indicated there is not a binary analytical/intuitive division but ideally a powerful synthesis whereby each way of reading and apprehending the text feeds off and strengthens the other. As with music, awareness of the technical underpinnings can actually reinforce and enrich one's emotional engagement.

Lisa

I absolutely get more out of my reading if I know I'm going to discuss it -- both because I think more about the book as I'm reading it, and then I always learn something new from the actual discussion. It never ceases to amaze me how differently we can all see the same set of words.

Peter the Flautist

Dark Puss is going to raise his whiskers above the parapet a little here, since Mr Cornflower has raised the enhancing effects of appreciating the technical aspects of music, and say that for him his understanding of the technical aspects, poor though they are, probably detracts from his emotional response to a piece. Now that I listen to certain pieces with score (sometimes two different editions) in hand, and annotating said score, I find that the detailed listening to the technicalities (is it a turn/trill/pratriller, was the third note tied or not, is there an unmarked diminuendo etc.) makes me have to switch off to some extent my emotions.

It is interesting, and fortunate, that we have such different responses to the central question of this post.

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Please note

  • Sidebar book cover thumbnail pictures are affiliate links to Amazon, and the storefront links to Blackwell's and The Book Depository are also affiliated; should you purchase a book directly through those links, I will receive a small commission. Older posts may also contain affiliate links to one of those bookshops. I am not paid to produce content and all opinions are my own.

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