When we were kids, my sister went through a “Harriet the Spy” phase in which she took notes on the family in a journal. I later found out her comments about me were “My sister’s mouth moves when she reads” and “My sister slurps when she eats cereal.” I’ve managed to cut the sound effects out of my breakfast, but I’m pretty sure the other observation still stands.
I realized pretty quickly in life that it wasn’t enough for me to simply hear the story. I had to be part of it.
When it comes to reading, I always prefer when I'm alone. It's not because I lack concentration when other people are around. This is, thankfully, an ability I possess. I credit this to two young gentlemen with whom I spent many an afternoon waiting for the bus. While I whiled away the minutes reading, they did their utmost to distract me. Running around in circles, nudging me as they went by. Yelling – sometimes words, sometimes just sound. They were unsuccessful in their quest, though their persistence was admirable. Thanks to their efforts, I came out of elementary school with a knack for zoning out everything around me as soon as there was a book in my hands.
More than one teacher told my parents that I needed to stop reading under the desk while they were going over the lessons. I was deaf to the warning. When my parents were finally able to talk me into going to the school roller skating party, I stuck a book in my coat, found an empty corner and had a lovely evening.
No, my desire to read in solitude does not spring from an issue in concentration, but because I want to hear what the lines really sounded like. The dialogue on the page is so real to me that it has always seemed wrong that it should sound only in my head. So I started, and have continued, to do the conversations out loud, often including accents. Sometimes I choose one character and do only their voice. Other times, I have to be everyone.
All in all, it just seems like a better idea to do this in the privacy of my own room. People get nervous when they’re stuck next to someone who is holding all sides of a multi-person conversation. Go figure.