Of late you may have noticed I’ve been banging on about how much I’m enjoying reading and how over the previous twelve months I’ve read more than I have, possibly, in all of my twenty-five years of living combined. Seeing as my childhood reading consisted of the somewhat holy tri-factor of Asterix, Tintin and Spider-man comics. Happy 90th Birthday by the by to the Belgian boy scout. My early teen years saw me grow my reading by only two other series, His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman and, quite possibly my all time favourite series, Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events. Of which I could easily gush about for days then add in the equally brilliant Netflix series and you may just not be able to shut me up. My girlfriend and I had much deliberation about the final series of the show with us deciding to try and savour it as much as possible so we duly knocked the whole thing out in an afternoon. As much as I would like to dive into that deep pool of delights it isn’t what I wished to speak about this week but maybe one day soon I shall. No, for as much as I love reading I have a slight issue in that I don’t think I’m a very good reader, at all.
Now I haven’t actually discussed this with anyone so the whole point may be mute and I may at the publishing of this find myself swarmed by support and may not be so wrong after all but I can only know that by publishing said piece which neatly brings us to the here and now. So I guess I best get on with explaining myself and in part explain why for so long I believe I struggled with reading. First off one issue that I had with reading was that as a kid I hated any blurb that began; x was just an ordinary boy/girl until…which left me with very little choice within the children’s and YA department. To be fair though I was likely just looking for an excuse not to read even though every summer my mother signed me up to the local libraries reading challenge in an attempt to get me to read while also giving us weekly outings over the holidays. Outside of me and my younger brother I come from a family of avid readers. So ardent readers are they that one summer holiday to Spain my older brother packed the final three instalments of the Harry Potter franchise and not only did he cart those three tomes around him where ever he went he finished them within the fortnight we were there meanwhile I had just about made my way through Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Anyway to the point at hand and why I believe myself to be a terrible reader. Since a young age I’ve always been aware I am a very visual person hence the childhood reading material on top of that I loved TV and film enormously. The trouble I have always found isn’t that books lacked images but the fact my brain loved to conjure them and not just conjure them but film them. It would work out the camera angles, the lighting, the camera moves, the colourscape, who the cast was, what the point of the scene was. My mind would whir and leap planning everything so meticulously and before I knew it I would be two pages further into the book having taken in zero percent of its contents.
So this is my problem I would and still do become so invested inside the scene playing out inside of my own head that I am unaware that my eyes have continued the task of reading. Usually resulting in me either having to go back over everything looking for the point my mind had chosen to wander and “re”-read it or what I did more often than not and plough on blindly ahead in ignorance of the past few passages I have missed. Another thing I find that when I am reading that no matter how invested I am in the book before me my mind is more willing to wander and think about the most unusual things rather than focus on the text before it. Sadly, I can safely say I have never truly lost myself within a book. Maybe this second thought is very common but that paired with my fondness for planning the filmic adaptation of the book I am reading instead of actually reading it concerns me.
Hopefully, as a collective we may be able to conjure an answer or just as likely I may remain none the wiser and continue with ahead with my own brand of “reading”. Either way though I’m not that worried for I still love reading and I do enjoy at times how my mind just leaps off a cliff edge, how its more than happy to wrestle with a single seemingly pointless idea or how it takes what I am reading and tries to twist and turn it something new and interesting completely unrelated to what is before me. When I read my mind is alive and eager, seeking out all sorts of morsels that I can later use for my own creative endeavours. As much as I enjoy this though I am less pleased when my mind wanders so pointlessly at times. Especially when in the thick of Fahrenheit 451 my mind seems more concerned with the notion that when you say ‘forward’ or ‘back’, your lips move in that direction… Yeah, I think I’m a bad reader.