The Conversation of Literature

This, of course, is what readers, as well as writers, do — participate, be part of the back-and-forth, help bring the text to life. Kurt Vonnegut once described literature as the only art in which the audience plays the score, and if that’s a bit of a throwaway, it’s also astute. Reading is an act of contemplation, perhaps the only act in which we allow ourselves to merge with the consciousness of another human being. We possess the books we read, animating the waiting stillness of their language, but they possess us also, filling us with thoughts and observations, asking us to make them part of ourselves. This, too, is what Conroy was getting at, the way books enlarge us by giving direct access to experiences not our own.

— David L. Ulin, The Lost Art of Reading, p. 16

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