I Have Forgotten How to Read

-I Was That Kid-

When I was still just in middle school I once caught myself with no less than ten novels in my back pack.  I devoured books like I was starving for literature.  I always checked out the maximum number of books from the school library and picked the biggest books I could so they would last longer. 

But after I left high school, my time spent reading dropped drastically.  At school I burned through homework like a wildfire and often had spare time during class to read.  My bus commute was no less than two hours even though I lived 20 minutes from the school.  But once I graduated high school, I didn’t have the obviously free time anymore where reading or staring into space were the only options I had to occupy my time.  During college I’d bring my laptop with me and during my down time I leeched off the college’s wifi to play games and watch videos.  During this time I became a Netflix account parasite and binged seasons upon seasons of TV shows.  I had this dream of getting into filming, so everything I watched felt like I was studying.  But I decided I wouldn’t pursue filming, and yet I kept watching senselessly. 

-It's Just Not The Same-

I wrote plenty.  During college I took several writing classes.  I read some for class, having taken some literature classes based around studying novels/genres.  But I didn’t read for pleasure anymore. 

Fast forward four years after graduating college and I can’t recall the last time I read a book for pleasure.  Perhaps when I had more down time at work, I was reading this science fiction anthology.  And I’ve been working on finishing that anthology for five years now (granted, it’s huge, but younger me would have had that baby done in a week). 

And this honestly bothers me quite a bit.  I write constantly – 5k words or more in my journal every day, and I write a lot of blog posts.  But I’m not reading.  And I really feel like being an avid reader is a requirement for being a good writer.  It fuels inspiration, reminds you of the intricacies of the English language, and being knowledgeable of the popular books of the time can teach you something about the direction you need to be writing.

-I Have Forgotten How to Read-

At least, I’ve forgotten how to read fiction.  I read online articles daily, their brief, informative lines helping to make me feel like at least I’m trying to read.  But it’s not the same.  My brain has become more accustom to processing facts and information and has lost a good chunk of its ability to imagine descriptions and scenes. 

This past weekend I forced myself to pick up a book because it seemed to have a similar flavor as The Un-Life and had just been released (Risen by Cole Gibsen).  I wanted to compare it to my own story and learn a little more about the current market.  I spent my lunch hour reading four chapters, and I felt like I was metaphorically tripping about every other paragraph for the first two. 

Now, I used to read high-fantasy with complicated worlds and vivid imagery.  And I found myself struggling with a somewhat simple young adult novel.  The language isn’t complicated or terribly purple, and it also wasn’t bare or boring.  But I kept stopping to re-read something I felt like I hadn’t understood and the only reason I hadn’t was because my mind just wasn’t processing.  There was nothing wrong with the story; the problem was with me.

I kept at it, though, and by the end of the fourth chapter not only had I got over the worst parts of road bump I was experiencing and was able to better imagine what I was reading, but I had also found myself wanting to read more.  That is a refreshing feeling I didn’t know I had been missing.  It’s different than the obsessive feeling of wanting to watch another episode.  It’s a longing, a need, to read another chapter. 

-Setting a Goal for the Future-

I want to finish this book by the end of the week.  Then I want to pick up another.  I need to keep this ball rolling.  Everyone grump at me if I don’t meet my goal; I’m counting on you. 

As fun as it is to binge the entirety of a new one-season anime on Netflix in just a day or two, it seems like it might be bad for me.  Everything in moderation.  I need to cut back on viewing time and make up for it with more reading time.  I’ve been buying books out of habit all these years that I haven’t been reading on the hope that I would pick them up someday.  I certainly don’t lack material, nor do I lack time.  I have no excuse.

I am going to read.

-Dana Lockhart

EDIT: I finished the book that night! I enjoyed it. My brain is resetting itself. I'm now starting on the book that started the movie, Ready Player One, and so far I haven't stumbled very much.


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