Animation by Kayelle Allen at The Author's Secret

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Readers Writes - All About Books from a Reader's POV

I was so pleased when today's reader agreed to let me interview her for this blog because I think she has a unique and interesting story to tell.  In fact I'm not going to give away anything at all about her but instead hand straight over to Michelle to tell her story herself.

Michelle Hedley

I am based in the UK and reading is something that I always loved to do from being a small age.  I never shied away from the world of words and indeed I feel it helped to mould me into the person I am.  As a young child I was encouraged to read by my parents and it was as natural to me to read as it might have been to eat food.  Throughout school I had a reading age several years ahead of my peers which demonstrates my love for the written word.

The author Enid Blyton was a heavy influence on my early childhood and I loved her various boarding school series together with the Faraway Tree adventures and they always got my imagination firing.  I used to play being a Librarian and loved playing with my many books!  Sadly Blyton is no longer politically correct in the UK and she is no longer a staple on the bookshelf of many shops.

An early introduction into my childhood to a huge influence in my life came when I was just 10 years of age.  My parents bought a teletext television which with it brought the new dimension of subtitles.  Being deaf (from birth) and relying almost totally on lipreading, subtitles on the TV meant that I continued to be bombarded with words. As a result of subtitles, my reading speed increased (a necessity!) and thus I was, and still am, able to read a reasonable sized book in a couple of hours. I loved the English language and was always complimented on the way I would read out loud.  For someone who is deaf, that was a compliment, but also demonstrated my love for the written word.

As an adult, the written word continues to be a huge part of my life through the medium of paperbacks, television (subtitles), the internet and of course the ebook as technology evolves our world.  Through reading, either paper based or media based, I embrace learning and love exploring new genres and new authors. 

I am not a lover (excuse the pun!) of romance but I go through many phases of likes and dislikes.  I tend to veer towards books from the crime/mystery/thriller genre.  Generally speaking (and I apologise it does sound morbid!) I like books where disasters happen and people die!  

Interestingly, I find that perhaps in one sense I do not read as many books now as I did as a child.  This is because I spend so much more time on the internet and social networking which is still reading in my mind.  Perhaps some would say that the internet has brought about the demise of reading, but I would disagree.  I fought for a long time against ebooks but finally late last year I decided to try out the Kindle app on my phone.  I now compromise and read paperbacks (for some obscure reason I cannot abide hardbacks!) at home and read ebooks at work/public transport etc.  I find this an excellent way to always be able to have access to a book no matter where I am and surely that is a good thing?  

Another thing social networking has done is to allow its readers to meet others and explore new worlds.  I have discovered many new authors and genres through this medium that I would not have perhaps done otherwise and that is a positive thing.  Even with modern technology I think reading needs to be nurtured and encouraged with our youngsters as we become more and more dependent on the internet.

It was through social networking that I was posed an interesting question, one that made me stop and think as I had not even thought about it!  I was asked whether I heard the voices of the characters I read.  The answer, after much thinking, is yes.  Most deaf people have some hearing to some degree, it's what we can do with it that dictates how deaf we are.  I have a severe hearing loss but with the small level I do have (amplified by hearing aids in both ears) I “hear” normally in my mind.  Of course that “normal”, if you compare it to your normal, is worlds apart, but as I am not aware of what you hear, I see myself as hearing.  

I love music and going to the theatre, and reading is another dimension that allows me to be on an equal par with my friends and family.  When reading, (or even dreaming) I allow the sounds to play out even though in reality I may never have heard those sounds “normally”. Just like the hearing reader, I have sounds that I associate with actions, they just would not be the same as those you hear.  

Reading has allowed me to evolve from childhood into adulthood and has been a huge influence in my life.  I strongly believe that reading, whether it be subtitles on the TV or books, has been responsible for my developing speech to the level I have and enables me to get away without telling people that I am deaf.  I hope to continue my exploration of the written word whether via paperback or technology.

Fascinating, Michelle!  Thank you so much for sharing your story with us.

If you are an avid reader and would like to tell your story on this blog, please contact me for further details at:


ManicScribbler said...

Michelle, many thanks for sharing this with us. I was particularly interested in hearing how TV/Film subtitles improved your skills in speed-reading and also reading your explanation about the way you interpret different characters' voices while reading.
Thank you so much for your fascinating article - I'm so pleased to have met you.

Ruth said...

That's really interesting! I never thought about how deaf people hear voices in books until now, and I am fascinated to hear Michelle's interpretation of how this works. Thank you so much for sharing this with us.

Sabrina York said...

I love hearing comments from readers. Manic Scribbler, thanks for the post. ANd Michelle, thank you for sharing!

Sabrina York

ManicScribbler said...

Hello Ruth,

I'm glad you enjoyed it - I knew you'd agree that Michelle is a special reader with an interesting story to tell.

Thanks for your visit and comment.


Thank you so much for coming back to my blog. I'm so pleased to see you again and am glad that, like me, you really care about what readers think.

I really hope to be able to engage more of them to talk about their reading preferences in this slot.

Andi-Roo TheWorldForRealz said...

Our household does not have anyone hard of hearing, yet even so we always put on the subtitles if watching movies or TV shows as the wording sometimes adds meaning when a character's voice is garbled or mumble-ish. Our avid use of subtitles has also helped our 8yo daughter's reading grow immensely; as a 2nd grader she reads on a 5th grade level, and loves physical books, kindle books, audio books on her iPod... I truly believe that, in moderation and with guidance, technology can be a great boon for readers of all ages.

It never occurred to me that anyone hard of hearing could hear voices in their own heads, so this was a really interesting concept. Thanks! :)

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