Our current culture is immersed in the idea of silent reading, at least from what I’ve gathered and observed over the course of my academic years. Very rarely do I see people use the power of voice when it comes to literature and I can see the disadvantages to that. When I read parts of this passage out loud to myself, it felt so much different than reading silently. Being able to vocally articulate and comprehend what I’m reading makes for a smoother and easier learning experience. Speaking out loud adds emotional depth that silent reading does not offer in most cases. I find that if I am struggling to understand something, regardless of the subject, reading and speaking my thoughts out loud give me a sense of clarity and ease.
As an introvert more times than not, reading silently is much more comfortable but we must all challenge ourselves to use the power of voice. I believe we as humans have resorted to silent reading mainly because technology makes it so easy to do so. In the ancient times, there were no printing presses and no computers to quickly find and mass produce information and texts. They had to pass stories and history down through word of mouth. We are meant to be vocal; we all have unique voices that we should be sharing with the world. I have never thought to question the strangeness of silent reading; it’s become so commonplace. We all have heard the term “knowledge is power” and it makes me wonder how can knowledge be shared if we all stay silent?
I personally enjoy reading to myself a lot but when I think about it, sitting in silence for hours on end staring at page after page is kind of weird. At times, it can be quite frustrating when I need to share what I’m reading but the other person has no clue what the content is. In Borges essay, he mentions St. Augustine’s inner battle with a silent reader: “around the year 384; thirteen years later, in Numidia, he wrote his Confessions and was still troubled by that extraordinary sight: a man in a room, with a book, reading without saying the words.” (Borges). The fact that St. Augustine never forgot about this man silently reading and even wrote about it several years after the fact shows just how weird this was during the time.
I think there needs to be a balance of silent and out loud reading. I am not religious but having been within the church several times, the bible seems to have more of an effect on people when scripture is spoken out loud; for a congregation to read as individuals dampens the meaning. Or in a school setting, there is nothing wrong with assigning silent reading amongst each student and then coming together to voice opinions later. There should never be more over the other, out loud reading and silent reading go hand in hand.
Borges, Jorge Luis. “One the Cult of Books” (1951) Selected Nonfictions (New York: Penguin, 2000). Ed. Eliot Weinberger. Trans. Suzanne Jill Levine and Eliot Weinberger.