This post is inspired by the post of a blogger friend here , wanting to become a better reader. His title asks the question: Can you teach me to read?
I agree with him, reading skill is rarely the real problem. Discovery of enjoyment in reading is the real issue. Find a book you love and you will learn to love reading. Over the years, I’ve been considering this question long and hard. In fact, the passion behind this idea is the main motivation for this blog . It’s amazing to witness readers inspired and discovering the joy found in a good book.
Much of my thinking is backed up in the scholarly writings of Mortimer J. Adler and Charles Van Doren in The Classic Guide to Intelligent Reading How to Read a Book. available on Amazon
My copy was printed in 1972 and given to me 25 years ago (or so) by a good, and scholarly, friend. I freely admit I couldn’t get into it enough to read the whole thing but still it occupies a prominent place, front and center on the book shelf. I think of it fondly and refer to it occasionally. I remember it’s liberating wisdom about the sacredness? of the written word and a few other myth busters like – it’s okay to read the ending before beginning a book, maybe it will even be helpful making connection for you.
Here are some misconceptions I think are acting as road blocks to discovering the joy of reading.
Our mind is convinced we are the problem, the flaw is within us. It’s our fault when we don’t enjoy a book, (We will never make a good reader. We have never learned do it well.) We need to know – lack of enjoyment in a book is not our fault. Seeing the truth of this will be liberating.
Another thought, while we are at it – lack of speed does not count as a fault. It’s true, slow can be painful and discouraging. Be encouraged, practice will increase speed, life will be better.
The real problem (I believe) with the lack of enjoyment is found in connection, or more accurately, the lack of it. Books are like people… they are written by people, so this makes sense to me. When interacting in a conversation we find some connections come easily and swiftly, others – not so much. Like with people, all books are not created equal. It’s unrealistic to expect the same level of connection with every book we pick up.
Another misconception (I think) holding us back from embracing the importance of connection is our misplaced view of honor due to a book. Somehow (I’m not sure how it happened exactly) we’ve had it drilled into us, the idea that if a book is in print it is important, true, and worth our reading time. We’ve all embraced this rule. At least until we identify the need to examine and discard it. A book does not deserve to be read just because it materialized in front of you. It needs to earn the right. There are so many ways it could be undeserving. Maybe the skill level of the author is lacking, maybe their style of expression is off-putting, maybe their treatment of the subject fails at believable. Maybe the content is blatantly untrue.
If a story does not grab your attention it is not your problem. And, it is possible it’s not the authors either. It’s normal for us humans to see things differently There will always be someone who loves something that I don’t. We like what we like and there’s no argument or shame in that. If a book doesn’t appeal quickly, let go and move on without a second, self defeating, thought.
Somehow, I’ve noticed, when it comes to food we aren’t bound by the same sense of guilt. We know what we like and, in most cases, we find it easy to say no without apology.
Reading deserves the same respectful consideration and we need to learn to say no. No more forcing ourselves to finish a book we don’t enjoy. The only benefit of finishing is reinforcement of the lie, reading is drudgery.
One more thought in regard to food: Many of us have the experience of siting at the table of a cook with few skills, eating is necessary but it’s drudgery. The opportunity to sit and sample at the table of a skilled chef will open our eyes to unimaginable possibilities. Who knew food could taste this good! Books are similar, in my opinion. The same story (recipe) in the hands of a skilled author could take you on a magical journey, maybe even the ride of your life.
OK, so now I’ve had time to sleep on it. In the bright light of morning I’m seeing this from a different perspective and second guessing myself. Maybe the reader is skeptical.
What if I have this all wrong?
Maybe it’s not as simple as finding books you love to make reading universally easy.
Maybe reality says this only works for the few, like me and a short list of other addicts among the billions of possible could-be readers.
Maybe, because I am put off with books I can’t make myself read but I’m all-in with stories appealing to me – like decadent cheese cake, or peanut covered ice cream, drowned in a sea of hot melted chocolate – maybe I just assume it will work as a stimulant for everyone. Maybe in reality it doesn’t work like that.
Maybe books really aren’t like food, where you can’t help but devour a new discovery, tasting so wonderful.
Maybe I’m wrong.
I don’t think so. But I could be.
I hope I’m not. How sad would that be.
So sorry to change the contemplative mood but, here are a couple of FREE books this morning.
Deep Blue Sea (New England Inspirations Book 1) is new to me but looks like it could be good.
Jamie Walker has a secret.
And she’ll do anything to keep it that way.
Her missing cousin’s cold case has been reopened at the worst time. And by the worst person: a hot shot detective from New York striving to close his 100th case.
As the detective gets closer and closer to uncovering the truth of what happened all those years ago, Jamie will go to any lengths to make sure this dusty mystery is one he’ll never solve.
Holmes Crossing Series contains the first three books in the series. I’ve read and enjoyed the first one, in previous downloads.
Her broken childhood makes Leslie desperate to properly balance her love for her family with her love for her ER nursing job.
When the loss of her husband’s business forces them to move temporarily back to his family’s farm, Leslie is terrified that once Dan is back in the fold of family and the community of Holmes Crossing, her needs will be smothered.
Then a near tragedy tests everything they both hold dear.
Start your journey to Holmes Crossing with Dan and Leslie’s story and get pulled into Terra’s, a girl with sass, spunk and a haunting secret.
Terra has spent the last few years outrunning the darkness of her past. But when she is forced to stay in Holmes Crossing past and present clash in a way that has chilling repercussions for any future she hopes to create.
After that you’ll meet Miriam who has a second chance at motherhood when she unexpectedly becomes a joint guardian of the baby she gave up. But can her rekindled relationship with Duncan, co-guardian of her daughter, withstand the accusing secrets of her past?
What readers have to say:
The Only Best Place
“If you cry easily, you may want tissues nearby.”
Let me know what you think. Am I delusional?
This is going to be (hopefully) a lengthy list of free books especially for a blogging friend who, like Julia Roberts in the movie Runaway Bride, is trying to discover what he likes. Julia is accused of not knowing what she likes, always making choices based on the likes of others. There’s the famous scene in the movie where she’s trying to prepare eggs every way possible in a process of elimination. She’s been convinced her choices would be better made if she knew what she liked.
Sometimes we need to do that with books, read a large selection of different styles to discover the one we can’t put down and wish would never end.