Reading is a Visceral Experience

Memories constantly hijack my brain. It’s great except the timing. Like cooking, or driving, or even teaching. What’s interesting is that the memories that reappear are almost always from exciting times in my life (like vacation or pretty much all my teen years). The only other “memories” that make an appearance are those I get from reading.

Joel Robinson’s whimsical visual abstractions of the reading experience

Often, months or years later, I can recall the exact experience of reading a particular book. I know exactly where I was sitting (the bathroom floor) as I zoomed through the final pages of Miss Peregrine’s School for Peculiar Children. It’s visceral. I recall how my arm and shoulder ached from reading so long.

Is it that reading affects my imagination? Is that why? I know that the other memories (those from my real life) I recall so strongly because of the intense emotions involved. But reading? Are those same intense emotions triggered?

How about you? How many of you have had flashbacks to reading books? I just had another now. Reading the final Harry Potter book in the hallway outside my daughter’s room (this being when she was only an infant). I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough.

I wonder if this is a personal insanity or one that’s shared.

Tim Kane

7 comments on “Reading is a Visceral Experience

  1. yeltnuh says:

    Phew. I’m relieved. Do you also remember smells/sounds that intervene when you read? 🙂

  2. If I really connect with a book, I do remember flashes of it when sounds or pictures trigger the memory. It doesn’t happen often, though.

  3. jacqueline goldstein says:

    Nope. If a book pulls me in I ignore everything else. The outside world is like a darkened theater.

  4. […] Meanwhile, Stephanie Burgis wants to know why so many movies show modern writers using typewriters, and Tim Kane wonders if you recall what you heard or smelled while reading and if reading is as visceral for you as for him. […]

  5. test2 says:

    amazing part! i will revisit read once again soon

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