In The Master of Petersburg, J. M. Coetzee's main character is Dostoevsky; in a dialogue with a policeman named Maximov, this fictional Dostoevsky comments on the story of a landowner being murdered with an axe:
"... reading is being the arm and being the axe and being the skull: reading is giving yourself up, not holding yourself at a distance and jeering."
I could leave that as a statement unto itself, as a truth to be kept in mind when reading. But of course, with Coetzee, nothing is that easy. This is not Coetzee speaking, after all, in his own essayistic voice. Nor is it his narrator, or his fictional character making a statement in an essayistic context. It is a particular character, with particular interests, making a statement in a specific context (dueling with a policeman about his late stepson's papers). If one wants to try to make a generally applicable statement out of this passage, one has to be ready to sort out the possible ironies of how the passage is framed.
JMC's Dostoevsky presents the point, in his argument with Maximov, as a general truth, but he does not use it as a general truth, as it were, but as a means to the end he is arguing for (having his stepson's papers returned). By extension, JMC is not using it as a general truth, but as a means to the end of developing the character of his Dostoevsky. If JMC himself perceives it as a general truth, he is not saying so here. He always seems interested less in the truth-value of the statements like this that appear in his fiction than in how people use such "truth-like" statements to attain their particular ends (even, or perhaps especially, when their ends are not at all clear, or at least not as clear as in this particular context).
So it's not a matter of whether reading is about giving oneself up or distancing oneself, it's a matter of what purpose the presentation of a particular idea as a general truth serves, not only within fiction but also in conversation and discourse in general. (Are these comments themselves subject to these ironies?)