Reading to Each Other

While I was in Oregon at my sisters on holiday, I rediscovered the joy of reading to
each other. I’ve been recommending Naomi Novik’sfantastic alternate history, Temeraireseries, to her for ages. It’s my favorite series of all time. While I was there and we were fighting the hundred degree plus heat and trying to stay cool, she downloaded the first novel, and one evening while sitting on her deck catching what little breeze there was, I asked her if she’d like me to read to her, knowing that if I could only read a little bit, she’d be totally hooked. To my surprised she said, “oh, I love to be read to.” That was all it took. I was off.


I LOVE the Temeraire series with a passion, and I never miss a chance to recommend it. Confession of a fan girl here: I’ve read the entire nine book three times and am reading them again. But I’ve never read any of them out loud before. Wow! Have I been missing out! First let me say that the series is set during the Napoleonic War, and the main character of the novels is a dragon. If that doesn’t hook you, I don’t know what will.


Secondly, you all know I love to do readings from my novels for an audience, and a huge part of the fun is making whatever I read, even if it’s only five minutes worth, almost like a small radio play. You see, like all writers, I want people to love my novels and the stories I tell as much as I do. I want my characters to be as alive to them as they are to me. I want them to be as much gripped by the plot as I was when I wrote it. I discovered, as I sat on the deck breathing in the lovely high desert air, that I absolutely loved being able to bring Temeraire and Lawrence to life for my sister’s entertainment. And, as I totally expected, she was gripped.


For the next week, we giggled about sneaking some quality time with the dragon. When we weren’t reading, we often discussed the plot as it unfolded and I gave her little teasers about what was to come. Our afternoon coffee time quickly became afternoon reading time, and I discovered I was just as enthralled with the novel as I had been when I first read it. If anything, knowing what was coming, as I did, only excited me more – especially when I couldn’t wait to see my sister’s response to the plot as it unfolded. By day three, she got bold enough to take her turn at reading to me. We were halfway through the second novel before I left.


The pleasure of reading out loud to each other shouldn’t come as any real surprise to me. My husband and I used to do it all the time when we were first married. We just got out of the habit. We’ll have to change that for sure. Even more than that, I never send anything off to a publisher that hasn’t been read out loud repeatedly. I always know a passage is right when I enjoy reading it out loud.


For centuries people who could read read out loud. Up until the 17thcentury, reading was not the introverted occupation it is since reading silently has become the norm. While I’m the first to say I could curl up with a good book and never leave my cave, I’m also the first to say that I have loved being read to since I was a child. The art of reading to others came much later for me when I began doing readings from my books for an audience. You see, even I can be social when I have to.


What I had forgotten that I knew as a child and that I knew when Raymond and I read to each other, is how delightful reading to each other on a more intimate scale is. I’ve been home for two weeks now, and my sister and I are still emailing about missing our time together with the dragon. It does make me wonder how much of the meat of the story, the true life of the story, we miss by reading silently, by not sharing
a story with someone else. Plus, I have to say, it was a total delight to take on the
character of the dragon and of the people and other dragons who were a part of his story. I felt transported in a very different way than I do when I read silently. A part of that, I’m sure, was seeing the novel fresh through my sister’s eyes. Through her enjoyment, I got to enjoy the story twice-over.


Hubby is enthusiastic about adding reading to each other back into our free time. In fact, he’s enthusiastic enough to suggest we tackle Roger Zelazny’sentire Chronicles of Amber. I’m up for the challenge.