The Community of Reading

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Though the act of reading a book is mostly a private pursuit, many of us feel the desire to share that personal experience with others. I suppose in that respect, reading is no different than most other pastimes: we like to share and compare our reactions to the things that move us, whether their impact on us is positive or negative.

Now in addition to the traditional book clubs, we have a plethora of venues where we can give our opinions and read others’. We can better sniff out a book’s potential for fitting our tastes without relying solely on its cover and the views of a handful of critics. As I expand my horizons as both a reader and a writer, I’ve been discovering just how vast the global reading community is. It boggles my mind, to be honest, as I try to take in all the online venues where readers can congregate to praise or lament or be introduced to their latest finds.

Interestingly, my role as writer has opened my eyes to much of what is out there to aid readers in expanding their horizons. This year I have been contacted by several of these online businesses that showcase free or discounted downloading opportunities, informing me that one of my books has been featured on their sites. Thrilling? Yes! But also a tad unsettling, as I realize how little I know about cyberspace and its role in the world of literature.

As reader, I am heartened by the ease of selecting new titles in more manageable doses. I’m not even going to take a guess at how many books there are to choose from, but I do know the feeling of being overwhelmed by sheer magnitude of the marketplace. Although this bounty should cheer readers by its plethora of choices, I personally have gotten lost in the maze of trying to find a new book. I’ve spent an inordinate amount of time searching for my next read, only to give up in befuddlement.

Happily, these same sites that have featured my books have been a great source for my own reading material. As I feel my way through some of these venues, I understand why there are so many. These sites are as varied as the readers who visit them, thereby giving individuals the ability to connect with the type of books they seek.

In addition to expanding our scope of selection, the Internet has made it much easier to learn about our favorite authors, often giving us the means to communicate with them directly. Sure, it’s always been possible to mail a letter of praise to a writer in hopes of getting a signed “thank you” in return. But now real contact can be established, bringing the two groups together on a personal level that was seldom enjoyed in the past.

So, hooray once again for the Computer Age! As mindboggling as it can be, there’s never been a better time to be a reader or a writer. I, for one, am grateful for our brave new reading community. It has enhanced both my reading and writing experiences. The fact that you are reading this tells me that it has expanded yours as well. Questions or comments? I’d be delighted to answer them all!

Until next time,

Cynthia

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