What does the term "reading" mean? Matthew Rubery's exploration of the influence neurodivergence has on the ways individuals read asks us to consider that there may be no one definition.
This alternative history of reading tells the stories of "atypical" readers and the impact had on their lives by neurological conditions affecting their ability to make sense of the printed word: from dyslexia, hyperlexia, and alexia to synesthesia, hallucinations, and dementia. Rubery's focus on neurodiversity aims to transform our understanding of the very concept of reading.
Drawing on personal testimonies gathered from literature, film, life writing, social media, medical case studies, and other sources to express how cognitive differences have shaped people's experiences both on and off the page, Rubery contends that there is no single activity known as reading. Instead, there are multiple ways of reading (and, for that matter, not reading) despite the ease with which we use the term. Pushing us to rethink what it means to read, Reader's Block moves toward an understanding of reading as a spectrum that is capacious enough to accommodate the full range of activities documented in this fascinating and highly original book.
Read it from cover to cover, out of sequence, or piecemeal. Read it upside down, sideways, or in a mirror. For just as there is no right way to read, there is no right way to read this book. What matters is that you are doing something with it--something that Rubery proposes should be called "reading."
About the Author
Matthew Rubery is Professor of Modern Literature at Queen Mary University of London. He is the author of The Untold Story of the Talking Book (2016) and co-editor of Further Reading (2020).