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Aphantasia and Reading

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Aphantasia and Reading

The thing I’ve been thinking a lot about lately, and discussing with anyone who’ll listen, is the propensity toward visualizing what one reads. I find this is the typical way in which one finds enjoyment through fiction, at least from informal polls taken of friends, family, and acquaintances. I personally do not tend to visualize what I read.  I’ve always had an aversion to overly descriptive writing, I think because of this particular quirk of mine. I’ve found out that my mother also doesn’t “see the movie in her head,” nor did my grandfather on that side of the family.  I enjoy reading immensely. I absorb the plot and the characters and the emotions evoked, but I don’t see these things. If I do, it’s somewhat hazy and with great effort. There’s apparently a word for this deficit, aphantasia, but my research indicates that the term appears to encompass much more than reading, whereas that is the only area in which I am personally affected. I know I tend to gravitate toward more emotionally-laden and dialogue-heavy works, and perhaps this is the reason why I always had more difficulty getting into things like high fantasy that rely on putting oneself into a fantastical world that I simply can’t fully picture.

I’m shamefully behind on my reading, as well as my blogging. I try not to let it cause me too much anguish, but when I set a goal for myself, I hate to fail at it. I did listen to the audiobook of Swimming Lessons a couple of weeks ago, and never bothered with a review since, though I enjoyed the book, I couldn’t come up with a lot to say about it. When I first started this blog, it was with the intent that  would review everything I read from that point on, and I now know that to no longer be the case. I also didn’t review Ubik, which is brilliant and amazing and everyone who has even the slightest proclivity toward science fiction should definitely read.  Sometimes, I think, it’s okay just to read and enjoy and not turn it into a chore afterward. I’ve also decided I’m going to make more of an effort not to force myself to finish books I truly don’t like. It’s not worth the time, when I guiltily let a book sit on my nightstand, not opened in days, while I have a shelf full of books beckoning me. It’s not fair to me or the books. Perhaps book blogging is not for me, or maybe it just needs to be a more intermittent thing. Time will tell, I suppose.

Does anyone else have some form of aphantasia that is specific to reading? I’d love to hear about it so I don’t feel so alone in this.

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I’m a reader, blogger, geek, and librarian. I like libraries, archives, video games, and old science fiction shows. Read More



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