When I was very little I loved books, both to read and to be read to me. Up until a few years ago, I did not read books for pleasure anymore. What happened? I have identified five key moments in my life that could explain it.
MOVIE VS BOOK – You know a kid is a reader when the first thing they say after seeing a movie is “The book was better.” I did just that in the third or fourth grade when I read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl. The book led my imagination to wonderful places much more effectively than the movie, Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, although I liked the movie too.
REQUIRED – The expectations in school were always so high. The books we were required to read were printed on a list. There were A books and B books. I always felt compelled to read the A books. Not because I wanted to read the book, but because you read those if you were smart. Whenever I read, I like to take my time. I don’t skim or speed read. In school I often had to “wing it” on book reports because I ran out of time to actually read the book cover to cover. The books may have been interesting but not “fun” to read.
BEOWULF, I THINK – In high schoolwe had to read a long excerpt from the text book and interpret it. I remember the struggle to understand the outdated Old English language that was used and the frustration I felt not understanding the material. That’s probably when I first truly began dreading reading anything that I was expected to finish.
OUT OF TIME – There was a time when I did enjoy reading. Two books that I regret never having finished are The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck and The Jungle by Upton Sinclair. I felt so immersed in the novels that I could lose myself completely and enter another universe… Someone else’s home. A different era. A different culture and time. But inevitably I got busy with other things and put the book down… Babysitting. Paper Route. TV. Now I find and make time to read. But it was and is still a struggle.
FINALLY – The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown is the first book that I read completely from cover to cover on the first attempt. That is the moment I changed my previous misconceptions I had about reading. No longer did I worry about the reading level or if it was sophisticated enough or if someone would think less of me for liking it. From then on, I looked forward to finding a good book and reading it.