When you read do you hear voices in your head? I do. I just asked Bookman and he does too. I suspect most readers hear a book as they read.
What you hear, is it you? Or do you hear the characters? I have a narrative voice and the characters get voices too but they aren’t especially distinctive voices, they are more like my narrative voice doing voices rather than say, Jim Dale doing all the voices on the Harry Potter audiobook with each one distinct. But even my narrative voice, while it is me, it doesn’t sound like me if I were to speak. I wish my speaking voice did sound like my inner narrative voice because that inner voice sounds so much more assured and resonant with lovely tonal variation that my real speaking voice does not possess.
Bookman tells me he has a narrative voice too. And, if he has seen a movie made from the book he is reading or has listened to the book on audio and heard the voices animated, he hears those voices when he reads. I think I have an inclination towards that too, just like the visuals of characters I have seen in film will overlay the visuals of the characters in the book.
You may or may not be surprised to know that the phenomenon of hearing voices is not a well studied one. Some academics at the University of Durham in the UK are working on changing that and you can help. Currently they are at the Edinburgh book festival talking to readers there, but, if you, like me, aren’t there, you can still participate in the study by filling out their online survey.
Before you take the survey, be sure to read a bit about it at the Guardian.
I took the survey and spent about 15 minutes or so at it. You should know it asks about more than just hearing voices while you read. It also asks about whether or not you talk to yourself and whether you had or have imaginary friends. I’m not sure what imaginary friends have to do with it. Oh, yes, I suppose when talking to an imaginary friend you might hear that friend’s voice. As someone who never had such a friend I was confused by those questions but now I get it. I can be a little slow sometimes!
It’s a fascinating topic so help them out and fill out their survey. Also, be sure to let us all know whether you hear voices. I can pretty much guarantee we won’t think you are crazy.
Update: Sorry about the links! They should work now. WordPress has been doing some updating and it seems they keep adding extra things to my html coding.