This morning I was reminded of this passage from Myers' book when I was purchasing a book at a garage sale, as the lady from whom I was purchasing the book was surprised to hear that I had already read the book. You're going to read it again?, she asked, explaining that she doesn't reread books because she would get bored. I responded with a "probably," and then clarified that I reread many books - some as many as 20 or 30 times. Admittedly, at times this has proven a waste of time, but with really "good" books, I have found successive readings to be very beneficial. Anyway, this passage from Myers' book came to mind after this morning's encounter:
What marks the different ways of reading? Lewis lists four distinctions between what he calls "literary" and "unliterary" reading."The sure mark of an unliterary man is that he considers 'I've read it already' to be a conclusive argument against reading a work. . . Those who read great works, on the other hand, will read the same work ten, twenty, or thirty times during the course of their life."
Lewis's second point is that unliterary readers generally "do not set much store by reading." Reading is something they do when there is nothing else to do, or to relieve boredom on a train, in a doctor's office, or on nights when they can't sleep. Literary people, on the other hand, "are always looking for leisure and silence in which to read and do so with their who attention."
The third distinction is that a book for the literary can be a deep, profound experience, "an expereince so momentous that only expereinces of love, religion, or bereavement can furnish a standard of comparison. Their whole consciousness is changed."
Finally, "what they have read is constantly and prominently present to the mind" of "good" readers. They remember and savor favorite passages. "Scenes and characters from books provide them with a sort of iconography by which they interpret or sum up their experience." Unliterary readers "seldom think or talk about their reading."
I think I'm a mixture of Lewis's two categories, with a heavy lean towards his "literary" category. I break the "literary" mold in a few areas, mainly in that I often read in an occupied room, while pausing to speak with others. I do occasionally wish for solitude in reading, but in general I read with others present. Though I didn't fit one of molds perfectly, I still found it an interesting passage to consider.