I used to be a terrible reader. Reading was painful. Reading was boring. Reading got in the way of interesting stuff, like math, and physics, and soccer. Reading was forced upon me. What happens when things are forced on us? We do the minimum amount possible and try to get away with it.
I'd often hear stories about these supremely intelligent people reading one book a week; I even remember an anecdote about someone reading more than two hundred books a year! It was mind-boggling. It was mind-blowing. It was as if I was hearing stories about strange creatures from another nebula, naturally endowed with powers greater than Earthly humans.
How could it be possible that these people read orders of magnitude more books that I did? They must have had something I didn't have. Absurd? Actually, rephrased, it's actually not so absurd. It's just that they had things that I had in other subjects, only applied this time to reading: positive associations, persistence, and a sense of learning.
Reading is usually seen as an arduous process. Understandable, considering the many hours we spend to read just a single decently sized book. But what makes all the difference is what emotions and responses we associate reading with. Do we associate it with the pain of homework, the frustration of our slow progress, or the embarrassment of not being able to answer questions in class? Or do we associate reading with the smiles of our mothers, the comfort of our homes, and an appreciation of our efforts? The differences we have in our upbringing, particularly within the family setting, will be enough to set the ball rolling. The difference isn't so noticeable in first grade, but fast forward ten years and we have a marked gap between the haves and have nots. Hopefully the have nots have made positive associations with other aspects of academic life.
Persistence? Oh how little of this I had during my younger years, with respect to reading. I remember routinely setting a book down after reading a mere ten pages in the story. Somewhere in the journey of the reader, there is a time when we have to break through the wall of early departures; somehow, we develop the will and desire to just keep at it for hours up on hours. Perhaps our encounters with mesmerizing and thoroughly fascinating books spawn this ability within us. Perhaps it is like cardiovascular strength, emboldened only by pushing the boundaries of our cognitive limits over and over. I'm not sure what it is that gives us the ability to stick to it through hundreds of pages. I seem to have developed it relatively recently, yet I don't know what it is that has contributed to it.
I suspect that one of the largest contributors to my new found literary stamina is the sense of learning I now have from reading. It is a direct result of voluntary reading, as opposed to assigned reading. In the universe of all possible interests, my twenty-odd years of existence has endowed me with a subset of said universe. Stepping outside of my little planetary system of curiosities is unlikely to spur the same level of interest and enthusiasm that I get by staying within my own little world of literary desires. Over the last few years, this little cosmos of mine has grown steadily. What that in turn means that when I was younger, I probably had a tiny little spec of an area where a book could have sparked curiosity in me. Tragically, that didn't seem to match up with what was being assigned in Honors English Literature class or whatever the niche of choice may have been at the time. Tragic, for it seems that we can grow our solar systems into our own galaxies if we approach it the right way. My thought is that by staying close to our hearts and not straying too far, we can slowly grow our habitat. Instead of trying to jump across the river, try to pivot slowly into the adjacent areas. Spread the mind slowly, like an amoeba; moving too far, too fast, will break your mind (... just like pulling really hard at an amoeba...).
I've read roughly 800 pages in various books over the last five days. With some luck (and some effort), I will read over 1000 pages in a week for the first time in my life. It's an arbitrary accomplishment, but one that is significant nonetheless.
I was a desperate Spark Notes user in high school. I can no longer see myself as a patron ever again.
i never thought about this but it fits so perfectly. With all that stupid "classic" literature that you are forced to read in school, i think school managed to completely kill my reading rather than being helpful in any way. I used to read books before, but the last years of school align really well with me reading less and less. to the point where i don't read anything made of paper anymore pretty much.. except for posters or rarely a manual for some machine/furniture construction maybe.
I thought i just don't read anymore because holding blocks of wood is inconvenient, but it might just be the school demotivation that's the real cause..
Man.. now i have ANOTHER reason to want to go back there and just punch every teacher i see in the face once. raaaage -.- so happy this shit is past me.
Last edit: 2012-04-06 01:39:03
Gold isn't everything in life... you need wood, too!
Synwave United States. April 06 2012 01:37. Posts 2738
Can you share some new literature writers btw? I'm trying to find modern quality books and most I read is just, well, bad. Cheap entertainment as I call it, nothing that I'd recommend to someone.
The seven sins of society.. riches without labour, satisfaction without emotion, trade without ethos, knowledge without character, science without humanism, worship without sacrifice, politics without morals.
the problem a lot of people have with reading is that they think they have to read "meaningful" books. this is pounded into people during high school and college where you always have to read specified books per a curriculum, some of which are incredibly boring and arduous. i dont recall that i ever completely read a book in high school or college. i always jumped to the cliff notes to get the information i needed, and randomly selected pages of the book to make sure i have actual quotes. thats how i got through my english classes.
nevertheless, i love writing and reading. i just don't like reading what society says i should be reading. i read fantasy and science fiction because that is what i enjoy. i read while im doing my business and at least an hour or two every night before i fall asleep. it is wonderful. i also always make sure i read books before i watch movies, tv series. i read all of the game of throne series before i started the HBO tv show, etc. books have so much more depth than television.
On April 06 2012 01:20 thedeadhaji wrote: <p><a href="http://blog.hkmurakami.com/post/20351984371">I used to be a terrible reader</a>. Reading was painful. Reading was boring. Reading got in the way of <em>interesting stuff</em>, like math, and physics, and soccer. Reading was <em>forced</em> upon me. What happens when things are forced on us? We do the minimum amount possible and try to get away with it.
Yeah, this is how I feel about why I took so long to get reading. Now that I'm doing it, I'm enjoying it though. I can't say that I choose to read over playing SC2 or playing with my son, but still, it's what I'd do anywhere I didn't have an internet connection - given the choice.
I don't necessarily think quantity of reading should be looked at as the ultimate goal. Rather, I've found that the books that stay with me are the ones I'm given the most time to think about. When I finished 1984 (only a couple years ago, somehow I'd never read this!), I thought about the themes for a good portion of the next weekend - and realized I liked the ending much, much more than I had originally thought. But then, my mind kind of is always working something out in the background - it's something I learned to do in math grad school that I haven't really stopped doing since.
The curricula are mostly based around a fairly outdated canon, and few students leaving high school have ever really been taught how to think critically. I've worked with a lot of freshmen humanities papers, and they are all being taught things that are really not true about what the study of literature is.