15 October 2004

What type of reader?

I found this quote by Samuel Taylor Coleridge whilst browsing the internet:

Readers may be divided into four classes: 
1.) Sponges, who absorb all that they read and return it in nearly the same state, only a little dirtied. 
2.) Sand-glasses, who retain nothing and are content to get through a book for the sake of getting through the time. 
3.) Strain-bags, who retain merely the dregs of what they read. 
4.) Mogul diamonds, equally rare and valuable, who profit by what they read, and enable others to profit by it also.

So, naturally, I started trying to decide what type of reader *I* am. I'd love to say unequivocally that I am of the "mogul diamond" persuasion. But, truthfully, I think I see a bit of myself in all of those classes. There are times when what I read gets internalized, but only impacts me a little bit. There are certainly times when I read to pass the time (say on a ten hour flight across the Atlantic). And who hasn't read a paragraph (or more) only to realize that none of it has actually stuck - not even the dregs? (Although I'm not sure that's exactly what he meant there.) On my best of reading days I do indeed profit from what I read, and at the least others profit because I've got a better understanding of myself. I wonder if anyone would really fit neatly into the "mogul diamond" class all the time? I could see that a reader could be one of the other three categories all the time, but the fourth one seems like it might be a bit harder to attain at all times. Some of the stuff I read isn't really something that I really want to profit from, other than to be entertained. I suppose I could profit from the fact that I was entertained, though. Any thoughts?

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