Wednesday, April 16, 2014

i'm not a reader: the common lie

Use Grammarly's plagiarism checker, because evil shouldn't have a foothold in the reading world!

"I'm not a reader."

It's a statement I've heard again and again in various conversations, sprinkled in with the how are yous and the what have you been up tos and the have you read this yets. 
I think I bring up books and stories so often in chats because I'm passionate about them, but coming across this particular answer has always confused me. Oh, I'm just not a reader. 

I never quite understood what that meant, because the assumption in each of these cases was that the person could read. If you can read, then how can you not be a reader?

The man who does not read has no advantage over the man who cannot read.
Mark Twain

I think Mark Twain knew what was up. He loved cats, worked hard, had a fantastic sense of humor. He also loved to read and write, which secured his place in American history. He was (and, thanks to the internet, still is) a spouter of wisdom.
That quote points a finger to one of the roots of the problem. The right to read, the blessing of sight and ability and opportunity demands a human to read.

Several years ago (coincidentally it was in the throes of the written Twilight saga) I decided to try something.
When someone said to me I don't read or I'm not a reader, I would take it upon myself to make them prove it.

My college roommate was my first test subject. The only thing she had ever read was Twilight, and she was convinced she generally disliked reading and that the Twilight saga was the only thing she cared to read.

This was a great place to start this project, because the idea that the Twilight saga is the single greatest thing you've ever read is way too sad to comprehend. It's a gut-punch to the literary society as a whole, really.

I thought carefully about her personality, chose some of my favorite books that I knew she would enjoy, bought them for her, and begged her to read them.
If and when she finished them, if she still hated reading, she could have my permission to proudly announce to everyone that she is not a reader. 

The thing is, I wasn't trying to bully her into anything. I wasn't trying to be right. My driving motivation was that reading is one of the most incredible gifts in the universe - I knew she would be better for it, because reading is so good for you, if I even have to say that. I should hope that it's common knowledge.
To have the ability and the skill and the knowledge to read, but choosing not to, baffles me.

Here's the key: find your genre. 

I think sometimes people grow up hating reading for various reasons. Perhaps they were slow to learn how to read, or they weren't allowed to read, or they were forced to read things they didn't like.
But once they're outside of that environment, I think everyone can be a reader. Find your genre, fall in love with books and stories. Not just for entertainment, but for your own betterment.
My roommate discovered her hidden love for reading through this experiment, and it was the best part of that whole endeavor. It was so exciting and it still is, being able to swap books and share stories.

Reading can relax you, it can sharpen your mind. It can expand your vocabulary. It forces you to sit and focus. Reading can develop your analytical skills, and can even ease depression. A compelling story can boost your empathy and challenge your character. Reading broadens the horizons of your understanding -- almost everything anyone is doing or saying comes from a book, or an idea that began in one. Books are history, society, memory, adventure, experience. Reading takes you places.
Reading is good for you. 

Let good prevail, my dear friends. Those who claim you are not a reader.
Fight evil; read books.

Update: I love this article, it gets me. 

note: this blog post was sponsored by Grammarly, but all thoughts and opinions are my own.

1 comment:

  1. You always put your finger on just the right idea. Well said, again.