Over my holiday break, I devoured a wonderful debut novel called Perfect Reader by Maggie Pouncey. It is a beautiful story, simply and stunningly told, about a young woman who returns to her childhood home in a college town after the sudden death of her professor/poet father. I recommend it wholeheartedly. At the center of this book loomed an interesting and important (to me) question: Who is the perfect reader? And what is her role?
The novel explores the role of reader as Understander. Pouncey details the opinion of Professor Dempsey, the protagonist's late father: "Books [are] not mirrors... but windows. One ought not read to understand one's own place in the world, or the world in abstract, but to understand the individual experience of another. And even more, to understand the individual force and resonance of words."
This book, and this theory, made me think. And this in my opinion is what the best books do. They make us think. But I'm not sure whether I agree with the words above. Aren't books (and blogs) both mirrors and windows? Don't we read for a host of reasons, some opaque to us -- to understand ourselves, to make sense of the world, to glimpse humanity, to immerse ourselves in beautiful language? Don't we read for all these reasons and more? I think so. I do.
And so. As a book and blog writer, I am left wondering. Who are you my current and future readers? What do you hope to find in my words, in my true bits and fictional worlds? What kinds of stories will keep you flipping and clicking and existentially aroused?
Do you believe books and blogs are mirrors or doors? Who are you? What do you want as a reader? Why do you come here? What kinds of stories bring you back for more? What kind of questions shake you? Which posts reach out and grab you? When do you comment and why?
**Please leave a comment here today 1/27/11 before 11 p.m. EST for a chance to win your own copy of Perfect Reader. Because I am feeling generous, I will also throw in a signed copy of my own book Life After Yes!**