Couples turn reading into a joint venture
Reading aloud brings shared pleasure, companionship, and intellectual stimulation.
Winter, however cold and snowy, has its sweet compensations. What better time to throw logs on the fire, hole up with a book, and be transported to the realms of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, or drama?Skip to next paragraph
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For most people, reading is a solitary, silent act. But some couples also turn it into a joint venture by reading aloud. Their literary equation is: 2 people + 1 book = shared pleasure. Whatever the season, whatever the subject, it's their personal version of an audiobook.
No one pretends this is a widespread pastime. But talk to couples who do it and their enthusiasm is obvious. In addition to broadening their reading, they find it creates a bond that doesn't happen when they sit passively in front of the TV.
Some couples read in the living room, others in bed, still others on the porch in warm weather. Some take turns reading, while others delegate one person.
Dickens also made the reading-aloud list for Annalisa Crannell and Neil Gussman of Lancaster, Pa. "My wife is in love with Dickens," Mr. Gussman says. "I was less so. But 'A Tale of Two Cities' was so good, read aloud."
The couple alternates between fiction and nonfiction, reading a chapter a night, or 10 pages. Their list ranges widely, from Dante's "Divine Comedy" to "Goldfinger," "Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger," and "The Medusa and the Snail," which Gussman describes as "beautifully written science."
Yet not all volumes lend themselves to reading aloud, he cautions. "When you read some books aloud, you find out how trite they are. It has to be pretty engaging in its story, style, and content."
Mr. Lynch also finds some books too "leisurely" or too hard in terms of following characters through dialogue. He changes his voice a bit for different characters, but doesn't try to "perform," he says. "We did make it all the way through 'The Lord of the Rings.' That was an accomplishment."
In Fullerton, Calif., Kirk and Marianne Sullivan are reading the Bible aloud. "My job is to get us through the 'begatting,' the long lists of 'and Jacob begat Horeb, and Horeb begat whomever,' " Mr. Sullivan says. "If my wife could, she'd just skip over the begatting sections and get to the Gospel. I make sure the begats get read."