[Think Aloud] – #9 – Discovering The Reality of Atmospheric Reading

Think Aloud explores book-related discussions encompassing reading, writing, blogging, and perhaps newsworthy content. The focus is to push the boundaries, stretch the mind, and encourage dialogue within this community. Let’s all think out loud.

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Table Topic:
Discovering The Reality of
Atmospheric Reading

Abstract:

Amplify your reading senses by immersing yourself into environments that mimic the feel of the novel.


Thoughts:

With stories spanning thousands of settings and a handful of climates, a thought that comes to mind is whether or not readers can encourage an immersive reading experience by putting themselves in an atmosphere mimicking the feel of the unfolding scenarios.

What do I mean?

A book which takes place during winter with a majority of scenes being spent outside? Read the book in the cold, outside, as it snows—the frostbite is a trophy of success.

A book which takes place during autumn and highlights an allegorical tree in your backyard? Go outside, step on the crackling leaves and read it under the big [yew] tree. (Re: A Monster Calls).

A book which takes place at a cottage under the burning summer heat? Chill at the beach or go with your family to the cottage abode—first world problems allowed. Remember to bring a pen and scribe all the quotes and feels on your hands and everywhere else. (Re: We Were Liars).

(This all sounds pretty crazy—and maybe I am a bit crazy—but humour me a bit.)

There are two considerations that foster these reading environments: setting and temperature. You can read novels in the comfort of your home but the lacking tangible influence of the story’s environment compared to your present reading situation may hinder you from truly bringing these words to life.

Setting is situational and is the more difficult of the pair to place yourself in. Hard science-fiction and epic fantasy might be a bit extreme to find an evocative working environment but contemporary reads that take place at a summer cottage or on a school campus may be easier to replicate. Heck, you might even be able to stretch Steampunk to that of commuting on public transit. In either case, it might not be as comforting as your cushioned reading nook but surely there’s something special in trying to view the scene by slipping into the protagonists’ shoes.

Temperature is the easier characteristic to validate as there are only so many extremes between oh-shit-this-is-too-hot and oh-shit-this-is-too-cold. The glaring problem is in not knowing the atmosphere being evoked on the get-go as well as the weather’s malleability as the story progresses. However, there may be the off-chance that a novel really does take place in the harsh climates of the winter or in the scorching heat of summer; and to read these novels under these circumstances may enhance the mood and tone of the read.

There’s a likely hurdle to predetermine where environments may take place. A blurb can only give so much world building and context before it gets into spoilers, and if there’s nothing to go off of, then that’s okay—you can begin exploring the merits of the setting in the comfort of your home (or what have you). The easiest environments to replicate are those stories which take place in a primary location; and unless you’re versed in seeing the eight-ball to know the feel of future situations, reading in single locations should be (and might be) a logical starting point to discovering the reality of atmospheric reading.

So with it being wicked cold up here in the True North Strong and Free (Canada), reading on commute is often pretty dreadful. But I did wonder if I could turn this negative into a positive by engaging certain reads with the attitude that ‘yes, this weather is indicative of what I’m reading about’—so much that I would literally feel the words. I mean, we can understand words on paper for what they are but to really experience them? Well, that’s the question of the hour.


Afterthought Prompts:

Let me know what you think of this topic and these questions below!

1) Where do you typically read? What’s the weirdest place you’ve read a novel?

2) Has where you read ever influenced how you felt about a novel (or perhaps a scene)?

3) Books are often recommended to be “beach reads” or “must-haves for Christmas” and let’s say these stories do involve beaches and Christmas. What’s your take on reading these novels outside of their environments? Would these feelings be amplified if you read the book while sun-bathing or next to a festive tree?

4) Is there another variable aside from setting and temperature that could influence the atmosphere matching process?

Cheers,
Joey


Post Inspiration:

I read on commute quite a bit and you know what outside feels like? A polar vortex of -30 Celsius arctic winds. So, yeah, I thought about channeling this weather into something positive by finding a book that took place in the blistering cold so I could really “feel” what the protagonist feels. Or maybe I’m just crazy, aha.

(Thanks to Savindi for beta reading and overhauling this post).

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11 thoughts on “[Think Aloud] – #9 – Discovering The Reality of Atmospheric Reading”

  1. I definitely read during my super long commute, though you can certainly keep the polar vertex there, thank you. Often I do read in different places, depending on a book atmosphere (a flashlight in the dark for scary stories, on the swing in the backyard when the weather is better and the story takes me to a field or valley of green). The weirdest one was probably when I read Capote’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s, because I actually took my copy of the book and lingered just outside the store while I read it, haha.

    Unfortunately, since most of the books I read are scifi or fantasy, finding a proper atmosphere or setting is much more difficult. I mean, I’d totally go to Prague and sit in a cafe to read Daughter of Smoke and Bone, or to Beijing to get a better feel for Cinder (which is what I’m reading now), but the budget for that omgah.

    This is probably why I turn to inspired book snacks and foodstuffs instead…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I used to try to read outside on the train platform during my commute in the winter months (long before I headed to warmer climes, obvs), but my fingers would get stiff and hurt from holding the books. Alas.

      Anyway, I’m not interested in mimicking the climate I’m reading about–especially if the book takes place in the cold since I hate being cold. But it is fun reading a summer book in summer and a Christmas book during Christmas time.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeah I wear the massive Canadian Olympic gloves (if you’ve seen them before) and it is quite the hassle to flip pages 😦 Although I’d be lying if I didn’t sacrifice my limbs sometimes to just not use them to read when I’m out and about.

        What if it was a nice “warmer” Christmas day outside, would you consider it then? Or is outdoors during winter an auto no-go aha.

        Like

    2. I’mma need to invest in some rechargeable batteries in order to read with a flashlight. But it really seems like you have this environment-inspired reading down pat LOL (I’m kind of jealous).

      I don’t know about you but I’ve put the Rotisserie channel (it has chicken on spits spinning in an oven) to get myself psyched up for thanksgiving dinners (because sometimes we don’t get turkey and opt for Asian cuisine). Anyways, you could adapt that logic and just have images come up on screen to sort-of-not-really attempt at putting yourself in that “world”. Or I guess you could just go visit little-[ethnic]-town in your city haha. Some food for thought!

      Like

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