The Adventurous Reader

What is an “adventurous reader”? I’m two chapters into a novel by Jedediah Berry, titled The Manual of Detection. The CIP data on the copyright page indicate that subjects for this work of fiction include (1) private investigators, (2) femmes fatales, and (3) criminals.

Inside the front cover are three pages of accolades, many of them praising the book for its departure from conventions and its playful spirit. The Wall Street Journal says that the author “defies mystery novel conventions, but adventurous readers who stay with his strange and fabulous debut work will be handsomely rewarded.”

I wonder, what is an “adventurous reader”?

Here are some possibilities. An “adventurous reader” is someone who:

  1. reads literature in any genre that contains adventure: fantasy, science fiction, the detective procedural, etc.;
  2. steps outside his normal reading habits or patterns to read beyond “other stuff”;
  3. lives more fully within the pages of books he reads;
  4. reads what others in his field, or in his peer group, or in his circle of friends do not read;
  5. takes on authors who are challenging, difficult, mind-stretching;
  6. devotes much of his reading time to authors with whom he disagrees
  7. reads backwards, starting with the last word on the last page;
  8. reads only every other page.

There must be other possibilities. Is the adventure to be found in the act of reading—its how—or in the object read? Both?

I guess I consider myself an adventurous reader—though I think “adventuresome” might be the better word. But why? I read “broadly.” I’m patient about finding “just the right book.” But I will sometimes take a chance on something with little to go on.

Does the adventuresome reader read slowly, or quickly? Is speed irrelevant? Or has speed got to do with being one kind of adventuresome reader? Wouldn’t it be an adventure to read five novels in a day, allowing only thirty minutes for each? Or to pick slowly through a complex text, in an effort to notice everything worthwhile—what is written, how it is composed, the contribution it makes to our knowledge or a fulfilled life?

Adventure is a pretty pliable concept. Applied to the reader, it has interesting possibilities.

Are you an “adventurous reader”? Why would you say so? Do you know someone how is more adventurous than yourself?

About Doug Geivett
University Professor; PhD in philosophy; author; conference speaker. Hobbies include motorcycling, travel, kayaking, sailing.

One Response to The Adventurous Reader

  1. Mark says:

    I am an adventurous reader because (in no particular order):

    -I think the number of books one reads matters. Though a few good books on a topic theoretically could outline the major questions, when selected by others it usually doesn’t since a teacher’s goals are often quite different than the students.

    -I think my intuitive method of arriving at what books to read to approach a given topic is an adventure itself, comprises much of the truth-seeking project, and is a guiding work of the Holy Spirit.

    -The act of reading is a serious game of asking and answering questions, and so my reading tends to frequently be exhilarating as evidenced by facial and verbal expressions (aha!, wow!, but I thought?, no way!) that is externally observable.

    -It’s not the kill, but the thrill of the chase. No wait –it is the kill. Whatever. The point is running down a theory, searching for clues, and such just is an adventure as much as a football game, and there are winners and losers, though the surest way to be a loser is to not read at all.

    -I think it is ultimately a public service rather than a private indulgence, and adventures aren’t always fun. Peter of Celle was right –sometimes it is an affliction, but even so there is a joy in the service to be performed with nonetheless.


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