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May 20, 2016 • Personal Growth

Reading: A Special Pain – How Reading’s Negative Stigmas, are Actually to Your Benefit

Last updated on May 25th, 2016 at 11:16 am

There is no doubt that reading is natural to some and completely unnatural to others. No doubt. In these contemporary times, Psychology has shown us that not everyone’s best way of learning is through books- or words even. Though, I believe modern Psychology is a little weak; weak in regards to that it often gives people permission to be weak and lazy. “I wasn’t born with that learning style,” “My mind just doesn’t work that way.”

Again, there are legitimate credences to those thoughts. My conviction is this though:

“For everyone; reading is a skill (a function) that can be mastered or left alone to die. It’s up to you the individual to see it’s worthwhileness and make it your own art.”

Reading is Difficult for Me

There are many people who claim this line as a fact of nature in their life. “I can’t read well (good, in their case maybe?*)”, or “I’m not wired that way”. I here that. But I’d just like to reframe that whole concept for you. Though reading may not be your best learning style, that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be a learning style that you use. You may be more visual, or hands-on, or need oratory help with learning something in your best and most ideal circumstance, but just because you are more wired for one way of learning doesn’t mean that you can’t learn any other way.

Say you’re playing football and you’re a gifted quarterback. You can throw the ball 35 yards and into the hands of your fastest receiver, no issue. And it’s clear, your a quarterback and you didn’t make the team for being a running-back. But say, it’s 3rd and 7, mid fourth quarter and your running back gets stripped and the football all but bounces into your vicinity. Do you pick it up and run with it toward the first down? Or do you let the running-backs handle it?

Just because your best learning style is x, that doesn’t mean you can’t learn at all through y or z.

And to be honest, reading is hard for everybody at some point in their lives. But just as with poker, cooking, fly-fishing, or public speaking, you can learn how to become proficient and maybe even enjoy reading.

Reading Loses My Interest (I Get Bored)

This is fairly simple of an issue to fix. Most of the time, people get bored with reading because they don’t know what is out there. There are really two or three basic, basic types of reading we did growing up. We had or literature classes where we read Shakespeare and read Poets of the Naturalist and Romantic persuasion and we had our history and science classes which provided us box that were really just giant, bound notecards.

The appeal for both of these is slim and sadly has left many of us with a bad taste in our mouths. We think, “If this is what reading is, I want to never do it again!” And that was precisely the boat that I was in for many year. I had such a disdain for reading (or what I learned reading was, from all those high school courses) that once I graduated, I didn’t touch a single book for a couple of years.

The utility (or even fun) in reading comes from reading things that add value to your life. Many readers, for instance, enjoy fiction. Novels, Sci-Fi, Fantasy, exciting stories as they may be, I maybe read one a year. They interest me almost none. I prefer reading books that I can apply to real life, or at least that can shape my thinking in big ways (not to say reading fiction doesn’t do it, just not for me). So what they looks like for me is that I read Histories and Biographies, Social Examinations, How-Tos, and Current Events. If I had 14 novels to read this year, I would read exactly one and a half. Give me 30 non-fiction books that I can relate to my life, and I’ll have read 32 of them.

Reading is boring when you’re forced to read or when you are holding a book that provides zero value to you. You’re best bet would be scan the local library and pick up five or so books covering various topics and genres, and see which ones interest you. Pick short books, helpful books, story books, and just try them. If they don’t it for you within the first 20 pages, set it a side and start the next one. You didn’t buy it, so no obligation to read it, right?

Reading Takes Time (I Read Slow / Books can be Long)

This is actually one of the areas of reading that I struggle with. You see articles online, or catch an advertisement about speed reading and it discourages you because you know you read really slow. I’ve started and stopped more books because I was frustrated than for any other reason.

It’s actually just a sign of deeper issues with your reading. When you quit because it becomes burdensome and frustrating it usually means that a few other things are out of balance. First and foremost, it’s like I mentioned above; you are probably reading things that don’t interest you whatsoever. Secondly, you probably don’t allow any specific time for reading and get to it when you can. If you are going to read, just read. Set a side time every day (for me it’s at least an hour before bed) and make sure you keep with it. If you left three, four days to separate you from the last chapter, your going to lose interest from the sole fact that you don’t remember what you were reading!

Reading also takes a lot longer when you are reading a bad book. I always held on to this idea that if I started a book, I had to finish it. That’s a habit and mindset that I’m glad I’ve dropped. Honestly, some books are bad. Really terrible; and you don’t really know until you’ve been in them a while. Those books need to be curbed. If the book doesn’t interest you, or is written poorly, or has just silly and ignorant points of view, ditch them and move on. It’s much better for you to start on a book that you enjoy and to develop a love and appreciation for reading.

A Defense of Reading

Though reading may not be your strongest learning style, it can easily be one of your most valuable. Just think of all the things you want to learn, but you don’t necessarily have they equipment or the teach to give you hands on experience. Reading can fill the gap and build your knowledge base as you search for other opportunities. Maybe you are a visual learning and you need demonstrations and charts to learn optimally. You can still add much value to your life through reading. Though it may take quite a bit of effort, you’ll still learn a lot (especially since your whole ability to communicate is predicated upon language and not visual cues per say) by reading.

Ease into it slowly. Give it a chance. Realize that you probably have the capacity to do it, and find something you l like.

*Denotes pithy humor

What are your thoughts?