Reading: Solo or group activity?

Books read
I’m rethinking my stance on reading as solely an isolated activity

Recently, I was scrolling through Instagram and interacting with bookish hashtags and I came across a photo that showed a mom and her son reading together. The story I told myself about this photo is that they were in their living room, enjoying a cozy afternoon together, when this woman’s son, seeing his mom reading, decided that this is a good activity, made himself cozy and pulled up his own book. I commented on the photo #momgoals, because dear lord yes! 

But it also got me thinking about reading. My perception is that this is a solo sport, something that I do during my “me time.” But it can be a lot more social than one would think. For example, we make it a social activity by hosting book clubs where we can gush about this shared experience. There are surprisingly a few ways where reading can be a social experience and, I think, it’s changing my perception. 

Sorry, not sorry, we’re taking over

I did not always perceive reading in this way. Growing up, my sister and I would frequently take over the living room, laying at opposite ends of the couch with our books. It was as if we were saying: “Sorry, not sorry, parents and brother, but we’ve decided this communal living space is our current reading space.” Those were some great, quiet moments that we could share together. To this day, as siblings, we are frequently reading each other’s books or each other’s book recommendations, adding another dynamic to make it a group activity. 

The All Souls Trilogy by Deborah Harkness is a series that I passed on to my sister, and others, after reading it. And I received the series from someone else!

Some people aren’t “readers”

Obviously not everyone is as voracious a reader as I am (no judgment—well, some judgment) but, maybe my fellow readers want to be spending time with a group. I remember the last camping trip I went on, I brought my book and was sitting among the fire reading when my friends and family were all around me. It was understood, at least I hope, that I wasn’t being anti-social, however I was enjoying something I love to do around my loved ones. I’d pop out of the book and join the conversation from time to time when I felt called to do so. It was great! Similarly this can happen just being in a living room with your roommate or significant other partaking in separate activities, reading and watching TV maybe. Football season is great for this (at least in my house) as you can have football on in your living area, at the same time everyone is going about their days, which may be reading!

Comforting thoughts

The more that I think about it, the more that I believe reading can be a very communal activity. After all, I pass books around to my friends and family, I want to talk about books all the time and I organize book clubs to feed this passion of mine. I really appreciate this different view, as I crave reading in my stressed out moments (which are frequent in today’s environment) and knowing that I can fall into this coping mechanism while also not isolating is a very comforting thought and practice I hope to employ moving forward. 

What do you think? 

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