General · Reading

My hate to love relationship with books

I’m a slow reader. If I could devote all my free time to reading I could probably get through 4 books a month, but 2 is more realistic. Thing is, that’s speed reading compared to what I used to read. When I couldn’t read even 1 book in a year… Or a decade.

It bothered me a lot. I felt there wasn’t a point to me reading, because it took me so long to get through a book. Which slowed me down even more, because I’d set a book down, frustrated by how slowly I was reading and that I kept falling asleep (not because I was bored, but because the physical act of reading put me to sleep) that by the time I got to the end I’d forgotten the beginning.

This, on top of many school/teacher related discouragements about WHAT I liked to read (“Fantasy isn’t real literature”) drove me to the conclusion that I wasn’t meant to be a reader, because I didn’t read the “right” books, reading put me to sleep, and I was way too slow.

My husband tried for a long time to help me get past these terrible thoughts, but I’d already decided I was a lost cause.

Until about 2 1/2 years ago, when I decided I wanted to write a novel (which is a whole story in and of itself I will tell sometime,) and I knew, if I wanted to be a writer, I needed to read. (It can’t be a coincidence that I gave up reading and writing at about the same time…)

It was not easy. All the problems I had were still problems. The worst of them being falling asleep, no matter where I was, after no more than a page or two.

So, how did I fix this? I trained. Yes… Just like an athlete training their muscles to run further or jump higher, I trained my brain to read longer.

Everyday, or every chance I got, I sat down with my book (not in bed, since we all know that triggers the brain into sleep mode) and read just to the point I felt I might fall asleep. But never to the point I DID fall asleep. Then I put the book down and did other things.

It was difficult to do this and be OK with it. I worried I’d fall back into the old habit of getting frustrated I wasn’t reading fast enough, put the book down and never pick it up again. I think what made a difference though, was immersing myself not only in reading, but in writing. I was brainstorming, outlining, and started my first rough draft. I also discovered BookTube and Brandon Sanderson’s BYU lectures. I wasn’t just reading, I was neck deep in the bookish world and it kept me going.

After a few days, I was reading a few more sentences. A couple weeks went by and I was reading several pages. After a couple of months, I was reading multiple chapters in one sitting.

It worked!

And now, I fall asleep reading, but only because I stay up way too late to read just one more chapter.

The thing is, I’m still a slow reader, compared to many long lived readers, and I don’t think that will ever change. But now, I don’t want it to. All I ever wanted was to enjoy reading. I do now! Reading a book I love, slowly means I have more time with it and I love that!

I don’t know. This was on my mind, so I thought I’d share.

How about you? Have you always been a reader or did it take time to fall in love with books?

Take care!

Ann Marie Swaim icon

2 thoughts on “My hate to love relationship with books

  1. I didn’t like to read when I was very young. My Third grade teacher decided we were All going to learn to love reading! She had us chose any book we thought was interesting. I chose a book about a baby skunk. Mostly because I thought she wouldn’t like it! I read that book and fell in love! With Sniffy and his adventures. I learned a lot and was mesmerized! I had never read a book for pleasure before. Wow ! Did I ever develop a love and passion for reading. My teacher really did me a favor. Although Years later I think she was almost sorry, I used the excuse I was reading to put off chores. You see, my third grade teacher was my Mother!

    Liked by 1 person

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