Throughout my senior year in college, a friend and I would escape from our textbooks and computer screens at the local Barnes and Noble. Even though we probably had more educational reading to do, who wants to read a psychology textbook when surrounded by thousands of new, fun books?
One time, we each grabbed a few books from the poetry section. After scouring the place for seats, we sipped our drinks and read a few poems from each book out loud. Sometimes other people joined us, and they read too. We did this irregularly for several months, and even now, I smile when I remember those nights.
Zoom forward to present day; earlier this week, I helped a friend finish a mural. After doing all the simple work, I cozied up in a corner to read C.S. Lewis’s The Last Battle. After reading silently for a few minutes, I offered to read out loud. I read four chapters while she applied the finishing touches to the mural. By the time she had finished her work, we both couldn’t stop thinking about the story. A few days later, a mutual friend told me, “She can’t stop talking about that book you read together.”
I once read an article that said people don’t read much anymore because it’s too lonely. I can’t think of anything further from the truth. Have you ever felt the joy of sharing a book with someone you love? Or the instant sense of kinmanship with a new acquaintance when you discover a book you’ve both read (especially if it’s one you really loved or hated)?
People who love stories love to share their favorites. Primarily through recommendations, but maybe people should encourage reading out loud in groups. From what I remember of childhood, everyone loved being read too (especially if the book had pictures). Perhaps the qualities that make experiencing a story together so enjoyable don’t fade away with childhood.