Tag Archives: doing reading wrong

It’s a pleasure: reading for various reasons

Anne Perry was fascinating at the British Fantasy Society event last night, and is totally not responsible for this riff on one thing she said.

She mentioned reading for pleasure (not a thing editors get to do, much).
When she said it, the phrase sounded suddenly odd. I thought of Reading for the Plot, by Peter Brooks:

“Reading for the plot,” we learned somewhere in the course of our schooling, is a low form of activity … plot is that which especially characterizes popular mass-consumption literature: plot is why we read Jaws, but not Henry James.

(No need to get pre-emptively peeved – Brooks argues against idea this in the rest of the book.)

‘Reading for the plot’ here suggests looking out for the plot on purpose, preferring it to other things (the quality of the writing, the characterisation). Like reading a classic novel for the sex scenes. Last night, I heard ‘reading for pleasure’ in the same way – not just ‘reading what I choose, in my free time, for no other aim’ but ‘reading to prioritise pleasure, to wring the pleasure out of books’.

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