Table of contents

Table of Contents

List of Figures and Tables


1 Introduction: Plotting the Reading Experience • Kjell Ivar Skjerdingstad and Paulette Rothbauer


2 The Hidden Foundations of Critical Reading • Magnus Persson

3 What Is a Reading Experience? The Development of a Theoretical and Empirical Understanding • Gitte Balling

4 Reimagining Reading • Gabrielle Cliff Hodges

5 Evidence of Reading? The Swedish Public’s Letters to Selma Lagerlöf: Quantitative and Qualitative Approaches to the History of Reading • Jenny Bergenmar and Maria Karlsson

6 Byatt versus Bloom: or, Reading by Patricide versus Reading by Love • Marianne Borch

7 A Cognitive Poetic Approach to Researching the Reading Experience • Sara Whiteley

8 Tempering Ambiguity – The Quality of the Reading Experience • Kjell Ivar Skjerdingstad and Knut Oterholm


9 Fun … and Other Reasons for Sharing Reading with Strangers: Mass Reading Events and the Possibilities of Pleasure • Danielle Fuller and DeNel Rehberg Sedo

10 The Once and Future Self: (Re)reading Personal Lists, Notes, and Calendars • Pamela McKenzie and Elisabeth Davies

11 More Benefit from a Well-Stocked Library Than a Well-Stocked Pharmacy: How Do Readers Use Books as Therapy? • Liz Brewster

12 Literary Reading as a Social Technology: An Exploratory Study on Shared Reading Groups • Mette Steenberg

13 The Indescribable Described: Readers’ Experiences When Reading about Tragic Loss • Eva Maria (Emy) Koopman

14 When Comics Set the Pace: The Experience of Time and the Reading of Comics • Lucia Cedeira Serantes

15 Reading Groups in Swedish Public Libraries • Kerstin Rydbeck


16 “I readed it!” (Marissa, 4 years): The Experience of Reading from the Perspective of Children Themselves: A Cautionary Tale • Lynne (E.F.) McKechnie

17 Reading the Readers: Tracking Visible Online Reading Audiences • Marianne Martens

18 Literature in Common: Reading for Pleasure in School Reading Groups • Teresa Cremin and Joan Swann

19 Desire and Becoming – Multilingual Pupils’ Reading Experiences • Joron Pihl and Kristin Skinstad van der Kooij

20 Experiencing the Social Melodrama in the Twenty-First Century: Approaches of Amateur and Professional Criticism • Cecilie Naper

21 The Republic of Readers: Book Clubs in the United Kingdom of the Netherlands, 1815–1830 • Arnold Lubbers

22 “Crazy Thirst for Knowledge”: Chinese Readers and the 1980s “Book Series Fever” • Shih-Wen Sue Chen

23 Enabling Testimonies and Producing Witnesses: Exploring Readers’ Responses to Two Norwegian Post-Terror Blogs • Tonje Vold

Notes on Contributors



This book is about the experience of reading–what reading feels like, how it makes people feel, how people read and under what conditions, what drives people to read, and, conversely, what halts the individual in the pursuit of the pleasures of reading. The authors consider reading in all of its richness as they explore readers' relationships with diverse textual and digital forms.

This edited volume is divided into three sections: Theory, Practice, and Politics. The first provides insights into ways of seeing, thinking, and conceptualizing the experience of reading. The second features a variety of individual and social practices of reading. The third explores the political and ethical aspects of the reading experience, raising questions about the role that reading plays in democracy and civic participation.

With contributions from multidisciplinary scholars from around the world, this book provides provocative insights into what it means to be a reader reading in and across various social, cultural, and political contexts. Its unifying theme of the reader's experience of reading is put into dialogue with theories, practices, and politics, making this a rewarding read for graduate students, faculty, researchers, and librarians working across a range of academic fields.