Simultaneous Reading

Do you ever read a book at the same time as one of your friends (without being in a bookclub)?

I’m experiencing some simultaneous reading right now and it’s making me think about how we read as individuals vs. in groups. For one of my classes, we are reading The Human Stain by Philip Roth and I’m reading it while talking to two of my friends about it. This is about what our conversations look like:

According to my prof, this is the best book ever written

Kelly: I’m on page 30!

Liz: I’m only on page 10.

Kelly: Let me know when you get to the part about the shit. He talks about shit for like two pages.

Later in the day, I see my other friend Hannah

Liz: Kelly says there’s a part about shit?

Hannah: She keeps asking me if I’ve gotten to the part with the cows yet!

Later, when I see Kelly again…

Liz: So there’s a part about cows too?

Kelly: Mhm, cows and shit!

And even later, when I finally got to that part, I immediately texted Kelly and said, “I made it to the cow shit part!”

And, a la Monte Python and the Holy Grail, there was much rejoicing, because we finally understood each other.

(To let you know, one of the characters worked on a farm and once had a “warm shit fight” with her ex-husband while they were cleaning the cow stalls, and supposedly that was the most fun they had during their marriage) (And sorry about the swearing, but there really is no nice way to talk about cow poop)

Before I got to the cow part, I was anxiously waiting to finally read it, so that anticipation propelled me through the story. I don’t think I would have been that excited to read and catch up to Kelly if she hadn’t amped it up for me. When other people ask you if you’ve made it to certain parts, do you read faster to get there? It’s also fun to read at the same time as friends because then you have someone to go to whenever something shocking happens, or when you’re confused, or when you want to complain about a character.

Don’t ask me for any scientific support, but I think that when you read a book with someone (even if it’s not part of a bookclub) you get more excited about it, even if you don’t necessarily like the book. There’s something fun about sharing the moments with someone else and having someone to talk with.

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2 thoughts on “Simultaneous Reading

  1. I finally got there, too! It was definitely more exciting trying to get to a part someone else mentioned. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have been drawn in by the paragraph-long sentences and the two-page-long paragraphs.
    Although I will probably never join a book club, I do enjoy reading the same book along with other people. It is more fun to talk about the events while they’re happening then to have to try to talk about the book as a whole on one occasion. It’s easier to relate ideas when you’re both going through the events yourself (well, reading the events, anyway).

  2. I agree, and it’s more fun to re-hash the events with someone “as they’re happening” rather than discussing it as a whole at the end. And yes, I’m a little put off by those long paragraphs too!

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