How to Read When Reading Sucks

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February 25, 2016 by Payton Shiver

I’ve never had the common problem of hating to read. I have to give a huge shoutout to my mother for starting me down the right path – a few months after Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone hit the shelves in the US in 1998, my mom was reading a few pages of it to me every night. I’ve been a Harry Potter expert and bookworm ever since. Unfortunately, not everyone has a parent or guardian who has the opportunity to read to them every single night.

In the ever evolving digital age we live in now, it’s difficult to get kids to sit still or even read words on a page that aren’t directions on how to beat the newest game or tips on how to download music for free. (Or whatever kids are doing these days?) If you’re a person who has always hated reading or thinks reading is for all those nerds who went to college while you went straight into the workforce, I have some tips on how to ease yourself into one of the most magical places ever imaged: the literary world.

I love reading, and I love all the places that a solid plot and great characters can take you. I want to be able to help you explore one of my favorite places in the world.

Disclaimer: This post is going to require a bit of reading. ❤

 

1. Read What Interests You

When one of my sisters was in middle school, the only thing she read was Twilight. She literally did not read a single book other than that for two years of her life. It drove me absolutely insane. After months of me begging her to read something better (like Harry Potter), my mom pointed out that I should focus on the fact that she was actually reading. My sister eventually moved on to other vampire novels, then werewolf novels, and finally fantasy novels in general. Her Kindle is linked to my email address, so I now know that she’s on a romance kick. If I get one more “What’s Hot in Romance” email from Amazon…But hey! It doesn’t really matter what she’s reading – she’s still reading.
It doesn’t matter what you’re into: trashy romance novels, intense sci-fi, freaky nonsense along the lines of 50 Shades of Gray, an adult with a serious passion for children’s novels, (or anything else). What matters is that you have a book in your hands and you’re (hopefully) learning and expanding your horizons.

 

2. But I Don’t Know What Interests Me

Of course you do. Take a look at your favorite television show or movie. A huge portion of popular films and shows are based on books; original screenplays are becoming more and more rare. For example, the television show The Walking Dead is based on some killer comic books of the same name by Robert Kirkman. Starting with comic books is one of the best places for people who don’t find reading enjoyable: they’re short, have pictures, and more than likely use some pretty foul language. 

A few other shows based on book(s): Game of Thrones, Justified, Gossip Girl, The 100, Bones, The Last Ship, Boardwalk Empire, Longmire, Nine Lives of Chloe King, Rizzoli and Isles, Pretty Little Liars, Under the Dome, The Mortal Instruments, Orange is the New Black…

My recommendation: While Game of Thrones is a great show, I wouldn’t recommend it to someone who hates to read – it’s dense, wordy, and can be difficult to get through. The 100 was a pretty easy read and the show is one of the few that are actually better than the novel(s).
P.S. – I usually always say the book is better than the show/movie. Check out The 100.

A few other shows based on comic book(s): Arrow, The Flash, Agents of Shield, iZombie, Marvel’s Agent Carter, Gotham, Supergirl, Jessica Jones…

My recommendation: The Walking Dead or Gotham. I love love love The Walking Dead and the producers of the show. They’ve done a great job both following and deviating from the original comic. My favorite example is Daryl Dixon: he was never, ever in the comics and he’s been a huge part of the show’s success.

A few movies based on books: If it’s hella romantic, see if Nicholas Sparks wrote it. Because he probably did. (A Walk to Remember, The Notebook, The Choice, The Longest Ride, Safe Haven, The Last Song, etc etc etc. Those books are better than the movies, I promise.) Others include Fight Club, Precious, Forrest Gump, The Devil Wears Prada, Serena, The Maze Runner, Gone Girl, The Fault in Our Stars, The Chronicles of Narnia, The Silence of the Lambs (multiple books and movies), Million Dollar Baby, The Big Short, The Hunger Games, The Giver, A Most Wanted Man, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, American Psycho, Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, Water for Elephants, Harry Potter, Mrs. Doubtfire, Bridget Jones’ Diary, The Martian, THE LIST GOES ON AND ON AND ON.

My recommendation: Obviously Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings. There so much happening that the movies could never completely cover. But if you’re looking for suspense – Gone Girl. Y’all thought the movie was crazy? The book will have your jaw on the floor from page one.

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3. Start Small

Don’t grab the largest, heaviest book in the library. Oh, and make sure it’s written in a language you can understand. Please don’t pick up a book in Chinese if you’ve spoken, written, and read nothing but English your entire life. Try and be reasonable.
(If you are seriously the type of person who would pick up a book in Arabic and blame books and the written language for your inability to become a lover of books, you should just navigate away from this page.)

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4. I Hate Reading Because of Big Words

You have a completely valid point. Some authors can be pretentious and heavy handed when it comes to their writing. People often don’t finish books if they aren’t easily read/comprehended. The neat thing about e-readers is each comes with the ability to look up those unknown words. I’m not completely sure about the older models, but the touch screen e-readers allow you to press and hold down on the word you don’t know. On the Kindle Fire, the definition pops right up.

E-Readers are fairly inexpensive: $50-$115. If this is still out of your price range, your handy dandy smart phone is always right there to help! Download a free dictionary app like Merriam-Webster or Dictionary.com. This way, if you come across a word you’re unsure about you can simply pick up your phone and type it in, instead of putting down your book, finding a dictionary, looking up the word, then putting that away, picking up your book, and finding your place to resume reading. Or if you’re old school, I applaud you and encourage you to cherish that dictionary.

 

5. I Have a Disability

Dyslexia, ADD, and ADHD seem to be the most common obstacles that stand in the way of wannabe bookworms. (That’s not to say there aren’t a slew of other issues, but these are the most well-known.) With ADD and ADHD, doing something while reading such as riding a stationary bike or elliptical can keep both your mind and body focused. If you’re worried about excelling at two things at once, it’s more difficult to become distracted. Dyslexics can easily become very frustrated and give up quickly. One of the smartest people I knew in high school had dyslexia and she told me that the trick was to just keep reading – push through and it eventually gets easier. For more tips and tricks for dyslexia, I suggest visiting the Yale Center for Dyslexia and Creativity  website. The site is full of strategies for dealing and coping with dyslexia.

 

I know I just threw a ton at you, so in summary: read what interests you, start small, and don’t be afraid to have a dictionary. Disabilities can either cripple you, or make you stronger. I’ve read over a thousand books and comic books so far in life, so if you need more personalize suggestions don’t hesitate to email me. It’s exciting to see someone ready to explore and expand their horizons!

Payton@PaytonShiver.org

 

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I apologize for not italizing, underlining, or quoting every single title in this article. As each title could represent a number of different things (comic books, books, shows, movies) I felt it best to just leave them untouched.
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