As I’ve been unemployed for a while now, I’ve had a lot of time to think and lately my thoughts have gravitated towards reminiscing about the past. I figured I might share some of my reading history with you guys because… well because I feel like it. =/ I dunno. So I’m going to make a small confession that not everyone might know about me: I hated reading as a kid
Now, hold your horses!
Put those tomatoes DOWN. Let me explain… or try to anyway. Let the record show that I started reading Harry Potter
when I was 10, so I did read something
. But on the whole, I never really wanted to pick up and read a book. It’s sad. My parents were big readers – my mom in particular. She read just about EVERYTHING – her collection alone led to a wall of books in our living room that never ceased to amaze our visitors. My dad read some science fiction and John Grisham-type novels. My sister inherited the reading bug from my mother and at the time was all
about the huge fantasy series. And I… I had Harry Potter
It was greatly upsetting to my mother, I think, that I didn’t really read anything else. In fact, they would keep handing me book after book after book and I would either not read them at all and let them gather dust on my bookshelf, or I would start and somewhere halfway through lose interest. I mean, I even had that with The Princess Diaries
. Yeah, they got me the book after I LOVED the movie, but even that I don’t think I ever finished. I would just reread Harry Potter
. Like, I have read the first book close to twenty times, I’m not even kidding. I was the nerdy kid who knew EVERY SINGLE DETAIL, including the ratio of Knuts to Sickles to Galleons. No one could beat me at HP trivia.
But but but whyyyyyy?
What stood in my way was the required reading for school
. Honestly, I was a really slow reader, first of all, so it would take me ages to get through a book no matter what. So the amount of books we had to read for school felt HUMONGOUS to me. Worse was that they always gravitated towards the classics and the “serious” reads – the ones that took hours for me to get through and quickly lost my interest (which I ended up not finishing and using SparkNotes for). Especially at that age, I just could not
appreciate those books. Having discussions about them where the teacher would extract some piece of meaningful symbolism that I never even noticed? I was rolling my eyes quite a bit, not gonna lie. English was actually consistently my worst subject in school – not for lack of trying, but I just didn’t really get
it. (By worst, I mean I got B’s, which was pretty disappointing in my family.)
During the school year, my reading would always be occupied by these books for school that I never really enjoyed, and overall that made reading feel like a chore
to me. In my mind, I made the association that all reading was boring, pretty much. Except Harry Potter
. Harry Potter
was the very rare exception to the rule. Actually, my love went so far that aside from Harry Potter
, the only thing I really read of my own volition was Harry Potter
fanfiction. Fair enough, I also read manga and fanfiction of manga/anime/video games, but for some reason that still never really convinced me that picking up an actual book would be COOL. Real books were all just so big and time consuming and ehhh.
There were some books that slipped through the cracks in my defense to reading.
I did keep trying, to be fair. In elementary school, I absolutely devoured the Magic Tree House
series by Mary Pope Osbourne. They were short, quick, amusing reads, but they didn’t stick with me for long. I also really loved the Water
series by Kara Dalkey, though I have NO idea how that fell into my hands. I read that trilogy multiple times, and they made me fall in love with mermaids. I dunno if I would still like it today – and I do want to re-read it sometime soon, so we’ll see. The Shadow Children
series by Margaret Peterson Haddix also had me completely engaged – but with the wait between books, as I was reading them as they were coming out, I quickly lost track of the series. (Life without Goodreads was hard.) And finally, I adored A Series of Unfortunate Events
by Lemony Snicket, even though I only started reading it when I was already much older than the target group. I just needed that kind of humor in my life.
But that was mostly… it. I remember owning The Thief Lord
, The Goose Girl
, Esperanza Rising
, The Secret Garden
, and A Wrinkle in Time
, but I don’t know if I ever even attempted reading them. I tried to read The Hobbit
and The Lord of the Rings
multiple times, but the beginning was too slow and the language was too heavy for me. In spite of my love for the movies, I couldn’t get through them – and that made me feel even more like a failure because all around me I kept hearing that people read those books when they were like 10-13 years old. Even my attempts at 17 didn’t work. Ugh. Around that same time, I started reading Eragon
– and I was actually really enjoying it, but I was reading our one copy of the book at the same time as my mom. She quickly got absorbed by it, kind of hogging the book, so I ended up losing interest. Oops.
When did it change?
Obviously, at some point in this story, there has to be some turning point – something that would account for the DRAMATIC difference in who I am today: a total bookworm. And that change, for me, would be The Hunger Games
. Yes, at the end of high school, I did read a couple of things (*cough*Twilight
*cough*) but nothing that would make me say I LOVED reading. When the movie for The Hunger Games
was approaching, and I’d heard enough good things about the books, I finally decided to give those a shot.
Yes, it was the beginning of 2012. That’s how long I hated reading.
And that did absolutely change everything
The Hunger Games was pretty much everything I never knew I wanted.
It was sci-fi, it had action, the world building was amazing, it had intrigue and mystery, the main character was awesome, and there was that hint of a great romance. But most importantly, the writing was easily digestible and completely engaging. I tore through the series in 3 days, and I wanted more
. With the accessibility the internet provides, I easily searched for “books like The Hunger Games
” and I had a million and one options – with plenty of reviews to guide me. That’s how I ended up on Goodreads, actually. I realized I loved dystopian fiction – the adult dystopias I read in high school were about the only books I really liked of my required reading – and with the door open to young adult books that were much more my speed… I finally figured it out. Reading is… cool.
So yeah. I’m the exception to the rule.
Here in book blogger land, I feel alone in my somewhat shameful reading history. Whenever there are introductions or personal posts, people are always talking about how their nose was stuck in a book from age 4 onwards, and I’m just like…. Oops. But the point is I learned. I will take my share of the blame for my apathy towards reading, but I also really wish that the teachers I had would have been more understanding to the needs of a reluctant reader. They really made me put off picking up a book for so long
. If we had picked up The Hunger Games
, The Perks of Being a Wallflower
, or Percy Jackson
or something, I truly think that would have made all the difference.
Not all books are boring – I had to learn that on my own. And in that sense young adult and middle grade books really do have value. They fostered my love for reading. And that’s what teachers should hope
to accomplish, instead of making sure we cover this old classic with a message buried way down deep that’ll fly completely over the head of a 13-year-old reluctant reader.