The academic Louise Rosenblatt differentiates two separate modes in the experience of reading: the efferent and the aesthetic.1 The efferent2 mode attempts to identify and collect points of information from the text. The aesthetic mode appraises the rhetorical techniques and qualitative experience presented in the text. The crux of Louise Rosenblatt's argument is that the act of reading demands a participatory response from the reader.3 In efferent reading, the reader must identify data in the text and create a referential structure in order to internalize that information as knowledge. In aesthetic reading, the reader contemplates the totality of the text as a communication with form and significance and attempts to understand the experience recounted in the text.
The difference between texts that strongly emphasize one of these modes over the other may be illustrated with the example of a history review, in which the presentation of dates and events dictates an efferent reading, and a novel, in which the description and development of characters require an aesthetic reading. Naturally, many texts, such as a historical novel, will oblige a balance of both modes of reading.4
1 The Reader, the Text, the Poem (1978).
2 She coined this term from either the original Latin (verb, "effere") or the physiological term efferent, which is used to describe any duct or nerve that carries impulses away from a more important organ.
3 Referred to as "Reader-Response Theory" or "Transactional Reading" in the pedagogical literature.
4 Discussions with noders after the posting of this WU suggest that there exists a third mode of reading, concerned with technical issues in the writing5: proofreading and copyediting.
5 Fact checking represents a meta-mode of reading, in which the reader attempts to identify assertations of fact for later evaluation. This is a technical mode of reading that is similar to efferent reading but creates a set of questions that are referenced to other data.