What Is ‘Ludic Reading’?


‘Ludic’ or ‘absorbed’ reading is a virtually trance-like state in which readers willingly become oblivious to the world around them. The term as used here comes from Hugh Crago and Victor Nell. This is by no means a universal phenomenon — some readers read like this, others can’t.

I have always felt that the art of telling a story consists in so stimulating the listener’s imagination that he drowns himself in his own reveries long before the end. 

Henry Miller, The Colossus of Maroussi
One of the most magical things about reading is how one can enter the private worlds that exist while your eyes move over mere lines of ink. That these mere lines form in our minds characters who become as real as the very people around us is the greatest of enchantments.

For readers with the ability to become so absorbed in a book, aesthetic quality has little to do with enjoyment.

Instead, children’s preferences are more to do with matching the books’ themes to their own particular developmental stage and inner world. (This explains all the parents I saw at the book fair, searching for ‘books about dinosaurs’ and ‘books about diggers’, grabbing everything they could find on the theme rather than looking at what I might call ‘quality’.)

Such matching between reader and book is similar to falling in love.

Texts that have this effect on readers are likely to be read again and again.The reader has to work for this — it’s not something that a book can one-sidedly do alone.

Ludic on its own means ‘showing spontaneous and undirected playfulness‘. (From Latin, related to ludere, ‘to play’ and ludus, ‘sport’.)

Home » What Is ‘Ludic Reading’?

On paper, things look fine. Sam Dennon recently inherited significant wealth from his uncle. As a respected architect, Sam spends his days thinking about the family needs and rich lives of his clients. But privately? Even his enduring love of amateur astronomy is on the wane. Sam has built a sustainable-architecture display home for himself but hasn’t yet moved into it, preferring to sleep in his cocoon of a campervan. Although they never announced it publicly, Sam’s wife and business partner ended their marriage years ago due to lack of intimacy, leaving Sam with the sense he is irreparably broken.

Now his beloved uncle has died. An intensifying fear manifests as health anxiety, with night terrors from a half-remembered early childhood event. To assuage the loneliness, Sam embarks on a Personal Happiness Project:

1. Get a pet dog

2. Find a friend. Just one. Not too intense.




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