Here’s a handmade response to “Reading Within Walls,” a chapter from Alberto Manguel’s A History of Reading. In this chapter, Manguel briefly describes how segregated groups often develop literature of their own to establish their own identities in response to the dominant culture’s failure to offer up to them an accurate mirror of their experiences.
“At least two different sorts of reading seem to take place within a segregated group. In the first, the readers, like imaginative archeologists, burrow their way through the official literature in order to rescue from between the lines the presence of their fellow outcasts,… In the second, the readers become writers, inventing for themselves new ways of telling stories in order to redeem on the page the everyday chronicles of their excluded lives… There is perhaps a third category somewhere between these two….What George Eliot was describing was fiction, though written within the group, does little more than echo the official stereotypes and prejudices that led to the creation of the group in the first place” (233).
If readers are made by books, some writers attempt to remake readers with new books.