Ever wondered why you can never get past the first 15 pages of a book? Or why websites like SparkNotes even exist? Or why your high school and college classes assign five freakin’ books to read each semester for each class?
I’ll tell you why. Literature is dying, and the world is trying to save it – in a less than satisfactory way.
Now, it’s not necessarily that people don’t read because they don’t want to—often times people do. It’s just that these people who “dislike” reading have been blockaded by five shitty reasons.
Reason #1: Social media takeover
Social media outlets are the primary source for college students and generations of America’s youth to generally connect to a text that has some form of narrative they can identify with. The communication is a give and take between the user and the medium. When you comment on a person’s story, there’s a decent chance that the creator of the text will respond. This is harder to achieve in the reading of literature because we don’t receive that instant gratification.
With pop culture glamorizing every story into a sensational buzz of scandals and exciting, must-see stories that revolve around current events, there’s little hope for the old, stale copy of To Kill a Mockingbird that sits on a dusty achromatic shelf in the corner of your room.
And that’s okay. It’s important to stay updated and informed about the happenings of real life. However, we shouldn’t forget that literature is rich with stories that teach us who we are and how to grapple with some of the most difficult things in our lives.
Reason #2: We’re often forced to read
Being forced to read a book is generally the worst way to experience it. Reading for a purpose you didn’t choose usually ends in failure because it takes out the personal level of connection that a reader has with the text.
Schooling usually turns reading into an industrial experience with requirements like annotations and finding the meaning of a text — the author’s arbitrary meaning that is damn near impossible to reach since we don’t know the authors themselves.
Who cares what they thought? Reading is an individual experience that resonates with people differently so why should we come to a conclusive meaning about a text since there really isn’t a right answer?
Reason #3: Lack of visualization
People have a hard time imagining the text within their heads. It’s hard to know how to utilize the sensory images laid out in a story to create a virtual, visual story in their head. Without this, it’s near impossible to experience it in an emotional way, connecting the reader to the characters and plot-line.
Also, they struggle with understanding literature because they don’t have phonemic awareness. This consequently makes reading virtually impossible and a taxing task rather than an enjoyable experience.
Reason #4: Words are hard
Challenging texts aren’t “worth it.” They don’t understand the text, and because of this, they don’t feel like they can get any enjoyment from literature. But the challenge is the best part! There’s a spirituality of literature that lets you not only reflect on the thoughts of another person, but pour yourself into the very being of them and establish a certain interdependence with the text, the author, and yourself if you truly read a book right. This is a grueling process, but often is extremely satisfactory if you devote yourself. Have patience, it’ll come!!
Reason #5: Missed connection
It’s boring because they have no personal interest in the text. However, there is always something in a novel that you can connect with—it just takes a little digging, whether that be a person, a situation, a scene, or something else.
It may seem practically preposterous to even attempt to get past this reader’s block of yours. However, don’t fear– we have some easy solutions to knock down those barriers.
- Find out what kind of style and voice you like to read and find an author from there. I’m positive there is at least one author you’ll be able to fall in love with. For me, that’s F. Scott Fitzgerald, but then again, I’m a weirdo and like classics. To each their own.
- Scout out your ideal reading space. Reading requires a different kind of focus, a different kind of concentration that requires the reader to find a happy and content space to take in the full volume of the text.
- Make reading a habit. Reading is like a muscle. You need to continuously stretch it. The more you read, the more you’ll want to read.
- Designate a time to do it. Reading isn’t your priority. Set a certain amount of time a week that you can dedicate to winding down and just reading (transport yourself to a different world when you read, it’s an amazingly liberating experience). It can literally be 30 minutes a week. Instead of getting sucked into the YouTube channel, read a chapter of a book.
- Avoid reading only in an academic setting. Actually, that’s one of the worst places to do it. Reading is about finding yourself through a text and connecting with people or things that you never knew. It’s about being able to transport yourself into a world and forget about the stress that your daily life puts on your shoulders.