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

4 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

  2. The brain is a muscle and can be trained like any other muscle in the body, just like athletes. It’s just a little harder to do because the training is different. You can’t actually move your brain. You can only train it. But what you’ve accomplished is impressive! Congratulations 🙂 reading and writing go hand in and and I’m happ6 to hear that writing inspired your reading and vice versa.

    I’m a slow reader. Can only get through two books a month if I commit really well. This is with me reading as much as I can in my spare time and sitting down for a few hours reading. Do you have any tips you could share that helped you along the way? Would love to be able to get through more than one or two books a month like many other bloggers seem to be able to do but I just can’t seem to do it :/

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I still only get through a couple books a month, too. I’m sure if I had more time I could do more, but so many other things come first. As far as tips for reading more, I’m not sure I have them. I’ve certainly gotten faster the more I’ve read. Much like practicing an instrument or sport. Start slow and quicken your pace with practice. That’s my best advice. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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