Narrative Transport. The official Michael Pryor website.


Reading has become a more stratified activity than ever.reader3 small

Imagine a Healthy Food pyramid, but instead populated by readers.

At the bottom, sadly, are people who don’t read at all. I’ll leave analysis of whether this section of the community is growing or not to people with massive research grants.

In the middle is a big grey area comprising people who read occasionally, people who dip in and out of reading, and people who go for long periods without reading much but who don’t mind a read every now and then.

At the top are my people – the ones who love a good story, the ones with a reading pile, the self-confessed readers.

But it’s my belief that a new sort of reader is emerging, the ones at the pointiest part of the pointy end of our Reading Pyramid. Perhaps they’ve always been around, but now they’re growing in numbers and becoming a force to be reckoned with.

I call these people the Super-readers.

A Super-reader is distinguished from an ordinary reader by a number of things:

  • Their reading pile is potentially life-threatening if it collapses on them.
  • They know what a TBR list is, and they fret about it.
  • They’re like chain smokers – when they finish a book they must have a new one to go on with.SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA
  • They read their favourite books more than once. Many, many times more than once.
  • Consequently, they might have more than one copy of a favourite book as their first has worn out – and YOU CAN’T THROW OUT A BOOK.
  • On a train/bus/tram, they’ve become good at reading covers upside down because they’re fascinated by what other people are reading. You never know, someone might be reading what they’re reading and, thus, A CONNECTION IS FORMED!
  • A persistent nightmare for a Super-reader is being caught without a book to read. Therefore, they often travel with two (or more) books.

Some rarer characteristics of Super-readers:

  • They dress up as characters from their favourite books.
  • They write to their favourite authors, praising or questioning about minutiae.
  • They write fan fiction.

Regardless of all this, the single defining characteristic of Super-readers is their love of books. This often means they love to talk about reader2 smallbooks. This, of course, has been facilitated by technology. Super-readers congregate, thanks to the internet. They talk about characters, about back stories, about potential sequels, about rumours of film versions and how they’re bound to spoil the book.

Super-readers are extraordinarily affirming for a writer (‘They like my work!’) but they are also extremely demanding – in a good way. They read closely, carefully, and won’t be happy with anything less than a writer’s best.

Super-readers keeps a writer on her or his toes, and that’s a good thing.



  • Comment by George Ivanoff — March 26, 2014 @ 8:32 pm

    You have just described my eldest daughter. 🙂

  • Comment by michael — March 26, 2014 @ 9:55 pm

    Excellent! We writers need people like that!

  • Comment by Stephen — March 28, 2014 @ 8:25 am

    Can a super-reader wear a cape?

    By your crireria, I’m sitting just below the super-reader category. It is a comfy place to be.

  • Comment by michael — March 28, 2014 @ 9:00 am

    A cape and undies on the outside are not only acceptable, but welcome!
    Yes, that neat band just below Super-reader is an excellent place.

  • Comment by Stephen — March 28, 2014 @ 1:03 pm

    I’m thinking your conceptual model of a triangle might be worth a closer look. With absolutely no evidence to back myself up, I’m going to suggest the pattern of recreational readership is a good ol’ bell curve.

    At the bottom end is a relatively small number who never read for fun, then a much larger group who almost never do. Occasional and regular recreational readers would form the peak of the curve, then dropping to a smaller number of avid readers and finishing up with your super-readers (cape and externally-located undies notwithstanding) at the far end of the x-axis.

    How ’bout them apples?

    Also, just purchased Machine Wars. Gonna read it on sunday.

  • Comment by michael — March 28, 2014 @ 2:24 pm

    I think that describes the reading population perfectly! It allows for some side to side movement as people wax and wane with reading.

  • Comment by Stephen — March 28, 2014 @ 3:33 pm

    If people’s reading waxes and wanes like the moon does, can we have crescent readers and gibbous readers?

  • Comment by michael — March 28, 2014 @ 5:17 pm

    If I had a ‘Comment of the Year’ award, I’d be prepared to give it to you today for that thought!

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