Sunday, July 06, 2008

Do Books Reflect Our Speaking Style?

Steve and I have a huge collection of books. So large, in fact, that our five bookshelves don’t hold it. Books litter all of the horizontal surfaces of our house, and this is AFTER we had a garage sale (I hate those things) and practically gave away all of the books that we weren’t ever planning to read again. It also doesn’t include the two shelves of books in the boys’ rooms. My criteria for getting rid of a book was whether I could remember any of the plot details without looking at the synopsis on the back or inside cover. If the answer was no (hello Oprah’s Vanilla-Flavored Plots Book Club) then the book went into the get-rid-of-it pile.

It recently occurred to me that the reason that we have so many books is that Steve and I have completely different taste in books. While I love books that are heavy on plot, Steve is much more into books that engage in a lot of what I refer to as navel-gazing. I recently read Ian McEwan’s ,A Child In Time, and while I enjoyed it, I found my self mentally fast-forwarding through a lot of parts in which the main character embarks upon esoteric mental journeys into some perhaps imagined past. “Whatever.”, I thought, “Just tell me what happens next. Does he find his daughter?” Steve loves Ian McEwan, and Kazuo Ishiguro. He is as much enchanted by the linguistic style, as he is by the story. I loved The Memory of Running by Ron McLarty. Steve recently picked it up, and as much as he wanted to love it, just didn’t. If we had a more similar taste in books, I’m guessing our book cases would be less stuffed.

I think our reading styles are reflected in our speaking styles. When I tell as story, I leave out extraneous and sometime even necessary detail, and stick to the meat of the point I’m trying to get across. Steve’s speaking style is a tad more, (erm….) loquacious. When he tells a story, no detail is left untold, and he has yet to meet a subreference (or even sub subreference) that he didn’t feel would enhance his story by its in-depth exploration. If speaking style does in fact reflect reading style, I wonder how never reading for pleasure, as is fairly common in our television oriented society, is reflected in speech?

4 comments:

Steve said...

So there's this belly button - some people call them navels, which is also a type of orange, a fruit I like but not as much as pineapple - hmmm, makes me think of Hawaii! - and you see, it's got some lint in it, presumably from some t-shirt that was dried in the dryer that did not have a properly cleaned lint trap - it traps the lint, but has no way of disposing of said lint without your help - does that make you a lint trapper, or maybe trappist would be a better word... yeah, like a trappist monk who sits in his stone-walled abbey in perfect silence thinking about belly buttons.

Insanity Central said...

OK, even you aren't THAT bad!

Joanna said...

Okay - completely off the subject (at least the comment subjects) I LOVED The Memory of Running. I think that you recommended it to me, Robin?

Insanity Central said...

That was me! I feel so validated that you like it as much as me.