Literary Blog Hop

The Literary Blog Hop is a fortnightly event held at The Blue Bookcase prompting book bloggers to answer a question.

What other outside influences affect your reading experience? Do you think these influences enhance or detract from the experience?

The question is a bit obscure: other than what?  At the beginning of her answer, Meagan explains where the question comes from, which sheds light on it.  She wanted to continue a discussion that took place a few weeks ago about the impact the status of a book might have on our reading (you can see here how I answered this question).

What could then influence my reading experience?  Reviews of course!  And with the book blogging community expanding constantly, these reviews are becoming increasingly numerous.

However, I cannot say that reviews influence directly my reading experience.  Reviews have an impact on which books I will consider reading.  I do read a lot of reviews and some might tempt me to read a certain book.  However, once I have decided to read a book, I tend to stop reading anything related to it until after I have finished it.  I tend to follow certain recommendations more than others.  If the book is recommended to me by someone who knows and understand what I like, I will tend to follow the recommendation blindly.  There are also some book bloggers with whom I share interests and tastes, whom I will easily trust.  However, I also tend to be wary about many reviews and if they tempt me will try to find out more about the book in question.  However, in none of these cases I can say that it enhances or detracts my reading experience.

The hype, negative or positive, surrounding a book might have an impact on the way I approach a book, but ultimately the writing takes over.  No matter what others think of the book, it will be the way I read the book that will overtake.  Although I believe that conversations about the book might help in changing my opinions on it, but those will usually happen after having read it.

I think that, ultimately, what impact the most on my reading experience are the contexts.  First of all, there is my own personal context: where and when I read the book and my state of mind.  There is also my knowledge of an author and her other works, which will impact on how I understand the book.  Then the knowledge of the context in which the book was written, but also the context of the story itself.  I cannot generalise as to whether they enhance or detract my reading experience.  It depends.  The lack of knowledge might be positive sometimes as the book, then, becomes a way to discover another culture.  On the other hand, knowing might also add more layers of meaning to the text and not knowing might result in the text being difficult to access and understand.

Overall, I think that what impacts on my reading experience are not outside influences, but various influences that I have internalised.  The reading experience is a dialogue between the reader and the book.  Whatever texts we have internalised will enter in conversation with the words on the page.