The first writer was very likely a great listener and observer, and also the first reader.
Could he have written it without reading it? He would have had to read himself. To read himself first.
The role of the reader in the life of a writer or the written work is so symbiotic to the point where determining which is more important is a chicken-and-egg-like conjecture. The parallels between reading and listening or even seeing are also clear. They are the same in altered forms. They often complement each other. One can read or be read to in the absence of sight. Or one can simply read in the absence of hearing or even physical presence (in the case of true accounts or today’s paper). The multivaried form the act of observance and taking knowledge in have now taken in the modern world is a testament to advancement—chiefly but not fully technological—and a credit to human inventiveness.
Today, whether you prefer to read The Last King of Scotland on paper or on iBooks or on your Kindle, or listen to it in audiobook, or whether you do not have the time and would rather see Forest Whitaker’s Academy Award winning performance in the film adaptation, The Last King of Scotland is still The Last King of Scotland to a reasonable degree whichever form you prefer to encounter it in.
Don Quixote has been in development hell for over two decades—in a herculean effort to bring the classic book to the screen by Terry Gilliam, who has infamously failed eight times to make the movie. The finally successful attempt—The Man Who killed Don Quixote— is only loosely-based on the classic book. George R. R. Martin, on the other hand, allowed HBO to advance the screen adaptation of his A Song of Ice and Fire novels beyond the books themselves, in order to avoid stagnation for the very expensive and equally successful Game of Thrones.
While several mediums have come up to compete for the same attention and promise the same rewarding experience as books, the limits of these mediums, as of today still leaves reading a primary and most accessible way of taking in information—particularly, some types information. Here is a nice example: Movies still include close captions and subtitles (that are not even SDH).
These other mediums also often have their roots in writing and reading—see: [movie] scripts, [song] lyrics or even librettos, and [theatre/Broadway] plays/shows—or even circle back to them, as in the case of over 100 books that have accompanied the original 1977 Star Wars movie to further explore the Star Wars universe, new characters created and spawned notwithstanding, one of the most recent of which is Timothy Zahn’s Thrawn (2017), the twelfth Star Wars novel by that writer alone.
Reading (and writing) about other things, such as the experience of reading a particular book or reading several books through a defined period—which abounds in the work the preface you are currently reading attempts to introduce—or Book/Music/Video Game Criticism has been elevated to the undoubted point of art(istry) that would stand its ground in most fields.
Consider Pulitzer winner, Tony Tulathimutte’s The Field of Dreams Approach: On Writing about Video Games, on the future of video game criticism and see just how much reading about writing about gaming can be as demanding on the intellect as engaging a great short story.
The readers in the Readers on Reading series, presented together here from the first two years of the series, attempt to take their readers through what it means (to them) to engage books—not particularly as a critic, or an academic, but chiefly—perhaps even simply—as a reader. While the writing here is primarily reactionary, it is in vigorous response to the action of reading—the act of having read.
- Two Readers on Books and Reading
- Treasure Adedapo
- Tope Salaudeen-Adegoke
- Su’eddie Vershima Agema
- Richard Ali
- Tolu Daniel
- Mehul Gohil
- Trust F. Òbe
- Nurain Oladeji
- Kufre Usanga
The entire series is also available in Kindle and ePub formats.