Often, the phrase “you’re reading too much into it” has been used by people to help their friends get past over-thinking a clearly obvious encounter. A simple example could be Lisa waving hello to Tina and receiving no wave back. This awkward encounter could have Lisa jumping to conclusions thinking Tina no longer cares for Lisa as a friend whereas Tina just didn’t see her. Where could this phrase “you’re reading too much into it” have come from? It quite possibly could have came from a Marxist or Freudian reading in that focuses on meaning that is hidden between the lines such as, an overcast sky representing evil. The sky is overcast often, especially in certain geographical locations, so evil must be present in England all the time, or maybe, I’m just reading too much into it.
Moving beyond a somewhat dated way of interpretation, Stephen Best and Sharon Marcus are interested in using “surface reading” to best identify meaning in a text. “We take surface to mean what is evident, perceptible, apprehensible in texts; what is neither hidden nor hiding; what, in the geometrical sense, has length and breadth but no thickness, and therefore covers no depth” (9). So the overcast sky so often described in Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight, might just mean the state of Washington has an overcast sky. Surface reading is not so much as simple and vague as described here and holds much more meaning than observing the sky patterns. “Surface Reading: An Introduction” goes on to explain “Description sees no need to translate the text into a theoretical or historical metalanguage in order to make the text meaningful” (11). This idea allows the reader to interpret and evaluate the text without the suspicion that holds hidden meanings. Because, frankly, life would get quite confusing if our books didn’t say what they meant.
Best, Stephen and Sharon Marcus. “Surface Reading: An Introduction.” Representations 108.1 (2009): 1-21. JSTOR. Web.