Don’t Resist

Adam Sternbergh writes in a recent article in The Walrus (“Why you should resist the lure of book clubs”) that “… if reading – in the sense of pleasurable invasion – is a sexual experience …”  Woah, I was going to quote more of this sentence, which goes on to address the book club issue, but I’m forced to stop there.  Reading is a sexual experience?  This, of course, begs the obvious questions on the nature of the book or, more depressingly, the nature of the sex, but leaving these aside, the bigger question is the nature of the reading experience.  Sure the words are in your head and that’s kind of cool and maybe even pleasurable but it’s a mental experience.  And sex, well, isn’t.  The good stuff at any rate is wholeheartedly, unabashedly, wonderfully physical.  Mr. Sternbergh goes on to say “the book club is the equivalent of a locker room … clumsily recounting the deal in a way that can’t help but undermine and cheapen the very experience we’ve gathered to celebrate.”  Hmm, one can’t help but wonder whether the book club he is a member of (and makes no mention of quitting) trashed a book he held dear (buddy, it happens – see my Feb 21, 2011 blog).  The very idea that someone can “cheapen” the reading experience through words speaks to the intellectual nature of reading.  As for sex, even if the recounting is clumsy and the reception not quite what the recounter had hoped, it doesn’t change the fun they had.

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