inTouch: Reading Dangerously: What Books Make You React Aloud?
Anyone who thinks books are an automatically quiet pastime has probably not had the experience of reading a book that inspires a vocal reaction. Books are much more interactive than many people think; they talk and people sometimes talk back. Perhaps you have seen these people who talk back to books but just thought they were crazy…because surely no one would react to a book that way.
In other eras when people read out loud more often, reading was a much more communal experience. Now more often than not, a lone reader joins the community depicted in the book and sometimes can’t help but react to what is going on. Before you get to the book club or to social media or on the phone with a friend, you make have already spoken back to a book.
“So don’t ask me why I opted to read Mindy Kaling’s quirky, sweet new book Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) in a busy, bustling park and assumed my giggle fits would go unnoticed. (They didn’t.) I knew I was in trouble when even the introduction made me laugh heartily in a public setting…”
Semigran had a different (but still noticeable to strangers) reaction while reading Jonathan Safran Foer’s Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close in public: “an ugly cry that would have put Oprah to shame. ”
I’ve certainly chuckled out loud while reading in public and I may have even gasped in surprise a time or two, but never have I been in more danger than while listening to audiobooks and driving.
I have to select audiobooks for the car very carefully because if not, I am afraid that I will cause harm. Books that are riotously funny cause me to LOL and throw my head back a little and this is not a good thing while one is driving. I learned this lesson thanks to David Sedaris’ Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim. And I had to stop listening to Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go in the car and finish the story via paperback because the haunting tale had me weeping and slightly distracted in traffic.
The audiobook productions of Hard Times by Charles Dickens and The Secret Life of Bees were engrossing and entertaining, and I’m sure I gasped and maybe smiled to myself at certain moments, but I was able to still pay attention to the road.
Books not only cause laughter and tears, they can also bring on shock, disbelief and anger. If you haven’t laughed aloud or cried, you may have gotten angry at a book.
The point is that the magic lies in the fact that a book is more than just a collection of words.
What books have caused you to react aloud while reading in public? Post your Thoughts below.
Warm up this winter with NPR’s Laugh Out Loud Summer Books