Read Aloud

One thing my wife and I have done lately is read to each other. It could be a passage from a book or a long-form article — anything that we think the other would find interesting. Because of this little pattern, the act of communal reading is something has been on my mind.

I just got through reading Laura Dassow Walls' biography of Thoreau. A striking fact I gleaned from her lovely writing is that Throeau was one of the first Americans to read Darwin's On the Origins the Species when it came out. How did he initially access it? By visiting a friend of Bronson Alcott's who had a copy. All three of them read the book aloud and discussed it. To be a fly on the wall during that Transcendentalist collision with Darwin's findings!

I wonder if there's something about reading a book aloud with other people that gives the words a different impact. You are occupying the same space as other readers. It is not merely an audiobook. The reader is someone you can stop to discuss what they just read. There is room for tangential conversation, for trailing footnotes of discussion over a paragraph, for a shared reverential silence over a rhapsodic passage.