Monday, December 13, 2010

Do You Like to Be Read to?

Last week, I listened to a feature on the BBC about a new book on reading aloud. The book included some especially good pieces for doing this. Too much dialogue makes it difficult, for instance.

We have friends that read aloud to each other--mostly classics like Sherlock Holmes and similar fare.

From the moment I could read myself, I never let anyone read to me again. But I used to read to my kids while they did the dishes and they tolerated it--even after the age when they could read.

Do you like to read aloud to someone else or be read to? I guess I am talking about a more intimate experience than an audio book. I am talking about two people or so in a room sharing a book. Perhaps this enhances the experience although I doubt I could convince my husband.

29 comments:

Cullen Gallagher said...

I actually find it very difficult to take in reading aloud for long periods of time. I can't do audio books, even lectures at school become just noise after a while. One-on-one might work for small periods of time, but even then I would prefer to be reading along.

Clair Dickson said...

No. I am very poor at auditory retention and understanding. When watching Joseph Campbell's The Power of Myth show on DVD, I had to turn on subtitles so I could read it and retain more (most of the video is just him talking.)If I have a copy of the book, I read ahead because I'm a quick reader.

But many of my students at the alternative ed are poor visual learners (and highly auditory) so I would read all our class books outloud to them. They got a lot more out of the reading that way (plus, they were kind of forced to keep up, since it's harder to ignore the teacher reading than to ignore the silent page in front of you.)

pattinase (abbott) said...

As a student (and an older one) I had to write down anything I wanted to remember. Just hearing it was not enough.
Yes, reading along helps a lot. We use that method in my writing group and it works well.

Jerry House said...

I don't care for being read to, but I love reading to kids. (I do a great dragon when I read Ursula LeGuin's Fire and Stone to them.)

Anonymous said...

Not really. I prefer reading to myself. I've only listened to a few audio books and enjoyed them a lot - Frank McCourt reading ANGELA'S ASHES was one and MIDNIGHT IN THE GARDEN OF GOOD AND EVIL was another - but I have to fight to keep concentrating on the book I'm listening to as my attention does tend to wander. In general, for me reading is more a silent thing.

Reading to kids is fun, however.

Jeff M.

Anonymous said...

Patti - You're bringing back wonderful memories of reading aloud to my daughter when she was small, and listening as she read to me when she was able to. My husband and I occasionally read to each other, but really only short bits. I have to say we don't read long passages to each other. There is, however, utterly convincing research that supports reading aloud, especially for those with a lot of musical intelligence, who learn from what they hear, and those with certain reading and/or learning disabilities.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Yes, why does our attention wander. We try them on car trips and usually admit after a half hour or so we have lost track of the narrative.
The people I know who read to each other get sooooo much out of it. It makes me jealous.

Paul D. Brazill said...

I don't even like being spoken to a lot of the time.

pattinase (abbott) said...

I know what you mean, Paul!

Randy Johnson said...

I'm not an audio book fan. Tried it a few times and ended up falling asleep(always at home of course). I've never thought about someone reading aloud to me, can't remember the last time, and don't think I would enjoy it.

Charles Gramlich said...

I like being read to but only under particular circumstances, like my long commute. Otherwise not.

Dana King said...

The Beloved Spouse and I read to each other qute a bit. (Mostly me doing the reading now, as she now has a crafts monkey on her back and doesn't have a lot of reading time.) It's common for is to read to each other passages we like (or think are laughably bad) in the book we're currently reading. I also read each chapter (or complete short piece) as I progress through a writing project. We both enjoy reading, and being read to.

I found myself making qute a few long solo car trips about 15 years ago. Audio books made them bearable.

pattinase (abbott) said...

I am thrilled that someone likes to be read to. I think it means you have an inner serenity or level of patience most of us have been deprived of.
My son does audio books all the time but I doubt he would like me to read to him.

Travis Erwin said...

I hate someone to read aloud to me, though I often listen to audio books on car trips and for the most part enjoy those.

I realize that contradicts but at least there I can rewind without drawing a sigh if i want to hear a snippet again.

K. A. Laity said...

I love being read to; it just doesn't happen that often, sadly. I also love reading to people. Yesterday I read at the only local open mic that allows prose. My friend who read there this time around read prose rather than poetry and I found he reminded me far too much of Shatner when reading prose. I like a natural, though dramatic, delivery.

I used to do podcasts regularly, but I don't know if anyone ever listened to them.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Good point, Travis. Hard to admit you drifted off to a person.
Another devotee of reading aloud. Yay!

Dorte H said...

No. Ever since I learned reading properly, I have prefered to read my books myself. People can never read it as fast as you can read it yourself so I get dreadfully bored. I read to my children, of course, until they could read themselves - and prefered to do so.

Today I would enjoy it even less as I have these concentration problems so without something to look at at the same time, I can´t focus on a story.

And like you, I take notes in order to learn and to remember.

Yvette said...

I LOVE to be read to. When I was married, if I was ill, my husband would often read to me. I just found it so soothing. I miss that. I also love audio books, I listen to them now and them when I'm in the mood.

Todd Mason said...

Inasmuch as I can never remember anyone's name unless I read it, not simply hear it, I have that deficit...but I love a good, relatively brief reading. Caedmon Records and their competitors, yay...one-narrator audiobooks at six hours or so, not so much. Radio/aural drama works well for me, including the Caedmon full recordings of plays (when they were good plays...AH, WILDERNESS! works a lot better than MOURNING BECOMES ELEKTRA...NO EXIT a bit better than THE INFERNAL MACHINE...), because at three or four hours the monotony of even a gifted single reader doesn't set in. Anthologies of short stories, particularly with different readers, in the "audiobook" format work well, as well, for me. But just Vincent Price or Boris Karloff reading several stories for Caedmon and CMS albums worked well for me...since those experiences were limited to about 45 minutes in toto.

Had an interesting discussion with my brother during Thanksgiving, as to whether fiction, leave aside drama for a moment, should be read with emotion or is better appreciated by blind and other vision-impaired reader/auditors when read out in the flat, uninflected tones of automated readers. It's a question I'd like to put to those folks, though of course I'd expect a range of response...certainly the Very monotonous tone becomes a standard, and probably the best way to gather the likes of daily journalism, but I suspect it deadens the experience of fiction, and perhaps even some narrative nonfiction or polemical essays, in ways that even Braille would not (given that, afaik, Braille doesn't easily allow for the kind of typographical shaping visual text does).

pattinase (abbott) said...

What an interesting question. What I do like is a slight change in tone when a new character is speaking. I am not sure I care all that much about an overly dramatic delivery. I'd guess something in the middle. Having a fairly flat monotone voice myself, I'd rather have a bit more inflection than I can mount.

Todd Mason said...

No, no matter how the inflection changes, it's still a single voice. Overly dramatic or subtly shifting...still one voice. It's a formula that doesn't lend itself to joy in large, long doses.

Just to clarify, those Caedmon dramas had full casts...as did such briefer examples as the Spoken Arts recording of THE ZOO STORY (even though the cast is of two actors there...three plus a minor fourth role at the beginning for NO EXIT/ON CAMERA)...

Ron Scheer said...

I'm not neurologically adapted to absorbing information aurally. Good stand-up comedy is about the only exception.

Though I remember enjoying an audio book of HOWARD'S END that I listened to while commuting to/from work, I generally don't like being read to.

I especially go crazy hearing the flat monotone of readers on NPR. Ira Glass is a prime example.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Boy, Ira Glass is excruciating to listen to to me, too.

Todd Mason said...

And he's really on PRI, Public Radio International. Since NPR wouldn't buy his show. And Joan Croc supposedly was moved to donate a half-billion to NPR becuase, in part, she loved THIS AMERICAN LIFE.

His deadpan anti-radio voice gets on my nerves a bit, too, though the series has gotten over its excessive tweeness at least some of the time to do good documentaries about. particularly, economic matters. But the "human interest" stories it used to specialize in, particularly when they were hung on not letting the listener know a crucial piece of data (Too close a paraphrase: "What I didn't tell you was that my family left me because I was methodically gutting the house, for no sane reason...hee hee, wasn't it cute I didn't mention that before?"), were enervating.

Also, David Sedaris is about as unfunny as William Vollmann is anti-profound.

pattinase (abbott) said...

I like the idea of it--average Americans doing what they do--but it always comes off as smug and condescending to me.

Richard R. said...

I like being read aloud to, but only if the reader can manage a good job. If there's lots of starting, stopping, going back and correcting, or mis-pronouncing, it ruins it and I have to stop. Thus I am rarely read to one-on-one, but am fine with audio books, both single voiced (the reader not trying to do different voices for different characters) and many voiced (one reader doing many voices, or several readers).

I enjoy reading aloud, grown-up books to an adult, but my wife doesn't like it at all, so that doesn't happen.

As for retention, I am pretty good with both audio and visual, though my memory is more based on visual. For instance, when giving me driving directions, tell me both the street names and what the landmarks will be.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Interesting how our memories work. Another blog topic.

Deb said...

It's interesting that so many avid readers here are exactly that--readers, not necessarily listeners. Count me in with that group--I don't much care for being read to. However, in the days before we had kids, prior to any election my husband and I would read the entire ballot aloud to each other while the other did the dishes (this was in a pre-dishwasher existence). We would then discuss exactly what each proposition or amendment was actually going to do. I have never since been such an informed voter.

pattinase (abbott) said...

What a great idea!