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Thread: I can't read

  1. #11
    FORT Spaghettio Shayla's Avatar
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    Feb 2003
    Thank you, all, for your excellent advice. I certainly will consider all of your posts. Since starting this thread, one of my current students brought in three books of Jelaluddin Rumi's poetry. She doesn't know I don't read. Poetry does seem like an easier start, and Rachael pointed out that one doesn't run a marathon without any lead-up training. Hepcat, you suggested a particularly good idea, in that you read books from your adolescence. I recently borrowed A Catcher In the Rye from a friend. Having read that book many times as a troubled teen, I think it'll be worth returning to.

    It might be worthwhile to consider what troubles me whenever I do pick up a book, read the first page, and then put it down. I'm used to the interactive reading of web boards, instant messenging, and online role-playing. I get somewhat impatient with books. I feel restless. It can be painful to read what I've assigned for my own classes, because the mystery is gone upon the second reading.

  2. #12
    Ah, words, words, words...I love them! I'm in my first year of college, (potentially) majoring in Political Science, and between 250 pages-a-night readings and beer-infested parties, I find that novels are practically the only things that keep me stark raving raving sane. Maybe in the future I'll suffer from ennui, but not yet. Hopefully, not ever! I think the solution is to read a variety of genres and authors. Even if you're a bit of a book snob like me (interpretive fiction and all that...), there is still a plethora of choice out there.

    I think reading for me is not just an occasional thrill, but a warm, deep immersion. It separates itself from the pedestrian happenings of life, makes everything seem a little less prosaic, and (hopefully?)a little more transcendental. But if I sound wack, forgive me - I just finished reading Nino Ricci's "Lives of the Saints" and "Testament"!

    Shayla, I hope you get your urge to read back. Reading should never be some kind of nostalgic afterthought, but hey - if you liked "Catcher in the Rye" when you were young(er), then by all means - read it again! Mishima is wonderful (I'm so jealous you get free books from your students, while I have to spend my hard-earned money on them ), but his prose, though beautiful, is a bit dense. For equally good Japanese writers who haven't disemboweled themselves and who might be more accessible, maybe you'd like to try Kawabata and Jun?

    Oh, and if you want to start w/ poetry, I'm thinking the Israeli poet Yehuda Amichai might be a better bet than, say, Octavio Paz. It's all about knowing your limits, your likes and dislikes, before wading into the sea (and sometimes cesspool) of contemporary literature. Don't wait for books to fall out of the sky - go out there and peruse, peruse, peruse!

    Okay, that last bit sounded really wierd, oh well...

  3. #13
    The new me! Feifer's Avatar
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    Sep 2002
    In first grade I had homework every night. I had to read the next days reading selection out loud three times to my mom or dad. I would struggle through it in tears each night. I finally caught on and the summer after fourth grade I read 20 books. I have been reading like crazy ever since. The key is to read what you love. Find a friend that likes books/authors that you like and recommend stuff to each other. It is more fun that way.
    It occurred to me that no matter how bleak things might seem at times, at least I have a head. ----Stargazer

  4. #14
    I'm an on again off again reader too. The problem I have, though is a little bit weird. In my town, there is this awesome little used book store, which I often find myself moseying over to. I frequently pick up four or five books on an impulse (and often books that I have never even heard of!). So I go home, and start one. If it's good, I get through it quickly. If I start to get bored with it, I start a new one. So now I have six or seven half-read books, and a growing pile of books on my to do list. Then I get fed up and that starts the 'off again' part of my reading habits, in which I read nothing for several weeks or months. (And yet, will still in that time make a trip or to the the bookstore...as if I need a bigger pile!)

    Yes, I know. I need help!

  5. #15
    I read when I am bored or interested in something, or sometimes neither. Take, for example, this summer. I have been extremely bored, but have read nearly nothing.

  6. #16
    Adelitas Way 7.14.09 libra1022's Avatar
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    Sep 2002
    Orlando, Florida
    I just wanted to add this on here (as well as the other post) that I'm finally reading SOMETHING again after about a 8 month hiatus. I'd heard about a book on another message board that I frequent, finally found it in the store, and am nearly finished with it in just one day. It's a nice, light read (sort of a romance type novel) and hopefully it will get me motivated to get to the next book that I was at one point anxiously awaiting but have yet to get around to buying and reading.

  7. #17
    When I hear or read of a pregnant woman (or anyone else, for that matter) getting a craving for a particular type of food my first thought generally revolves around the persons body giving them a non-verbal prompt that IT requires a nutrient that consuming that which is craved will provide.

    In similar fashion, if I weren't drawn or capable of reading after having been an avid reader in the past I'd probably first assume I was receiving an 'I'm full' message on some level and not fret about my lack of desire unless it dragged on and on without sign of ending.

    Though reading is like riding a bike in one sense, that once you know how you know how, its an interesting question of how to approach breaking a readers block if one desired to do so. Myself, I might just mosey along and wait for a falling book to choose me, rather than the other way around as nausicaa recommended against, but that's knowing myself. For others nausicaa's advice makes sense.

    I do believe however that a meandering approach to re-entry would be better than a focused one. Particularly if regimentation was one of the causal factors for deciding 'I've had my fill of that, thanks'. I think I'd either find myself a great library or bookstore and just navigate down the isles for awhile looking at individuals titles, cover art, groupings of content I'd never delved into, noting areas that received lots of attention as well as those unfrequented all without touching books physically at first.

    Hard for me to imagine nothing capturing any given individuals eye, even if it is a picture book. Doesn't matter what it turns out to be which catches ones interest, picking up the first copy of Mad magazine you've held or even seen in a quarter century will suit if it gets you interested and engaged. Once the block is removed, the broadening of the reading field can commence as far as one desires to take it.

    You needn't make any special trips, even. Just reading one intersesting story on the web and following the endless links to whatever eventual ????land you wind up at should provide a quick and painless update on what you find interesting as an individual.

    For example, I ran across a book review of Albert Hurtado's "John Sutter: A Life on the North Anerican Frontier", the review itself which might easily lead me toward a half dozen or more points of interest even if I never read the book, from the natural history of the region of California which Sutter claimed, the people who lived here and how they lived prior to Sutter's arrival, or present day considerations like the de-naming mentioned in this interesting quote:

    Kenneth Owens, a professor emeritus of history and ethnic studies at California State University, Sacramento, said the history of Sutter has been distorted by "two intellectually warring camps" that cast him either as a hero or scoundrel.

    The myth-laden debate continues to this day.

    Last year, for example, the Davis City Council voted unanimously to remove Sutter's name from a city street because of concerns about his treatment of American Indians.

    "He was a rapist. He was an enslaver," Jack Forbes, professor emeritus of American Indian studies at UC Davis, told the council. "We can't afford to honor men like that."

    The rapist allegation originates from a Sutter associate and fellow Swiss immigrant, Heinrich Lienhard, Hurtado said, and it's a dubious claim at best.

    "Let me see if I can get the sequence right," Hurtado said, pausing. "(Lienhard) says that a man told him that an American man told him that his Tahitian wife told him that a California Indian woman told him that her sister had said ... How many ways can this go wrong?"

    Sutter did, in fact, enslave Miwok and Nisenan Indians, including children, who resisted his rule of the Valley land he claimed, roughly between Tres Picos (the Sutter Buttes) near Marysville and the Cosumnes River, Hurtado said. And Sutter had dissidents flogged, imprisoned or executed before a firing squad.

    "This was Sutter at his most ruthless," Hurtado said.
    {My emphasis above}

    The present day denamings of figures from the past not currently considered notable except for scorn may well be warranted, but shouldn't the revisionists aim for accuracy in seeking to redress inaccuracies of the past?

    For Hurtado to address the rapist allegation as he does, I'm wondering what professor emeritus of American Indian studies Jack Forbes bases his declaration on beyond emotion.

    News - John Sutter: The man behind the spin - sacbee.com

    As a side note, the University of Oklahoma Press is without equal in my personal opinion in their historical catalog pertaining to the American West.

  8. #18
    FORT Fogey livin4reality's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Lawrence KS
    Whoa. I didn't realize there were people like me. I devoured books from the ages of 7 to 39. Probably read 5-10 books a week. It was my escape. Then one day (seemed like it) I just stopped. I've tried in the 6 years since to pick up a book, but even my all time favorite authors cannot draw me back in. I'll read a chapter or two and just get bored. Although I still buy them.
    On our local freecycle there is a lady who gives out advance copies of new releases. I scored about 15 books last week.
    I very much believe in rescuing animals, not buying them.

    Candice Bergen, on finding her dog, Lois, a terrier/basset hound mix

  9. #19
    FORT Fogey cricketeen's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    There is hope!
    I was an avid reader from first grade until my first child was born (at 35 yrs.). Then I couldn't concentrate for long periods and was constantly being interrupted and it just wasn't worth it so I flat out quit. After about 5 years I joined a book club - all friends - and it forced me to read 1 book a month. Sometimes the selections were deep and sometimes they were quite shallow, but at least I could say I was reading again. I think it was important that we were friends, because it took away the pressure to be "deep and profound" during our discussions. That went on for another 6 years. About a year ago, the love returned for some reason. Who knows why it left or why it came back? The important thing is, it did come back, as I always believed it would. So forgive yourself your lapse; get on with other things. Keep picking up books that look interesting and set them aside for the day when the urge returns, but by no means let the growing pile cause you guilt feelings. Rather, think of it with anticipation. After 11 years of collecting, my pile is taller than I am and my only problem with it is choosing which book to read next.
    "If everything seems under control, you're just not going fast enough." - Mario Andretti

  10. #20
    FORT Fogey Missyboxers's Avatar
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    May 2004

    Re: I can't read

    I was addicted to reading from about 2nd grade through 6th (and wasn't so much into tv)-- like, read at the dinner table addicted. Between middle school and high school, I had a bunch of English teachers who squashed much of my enthusiasm for reading. I hated reading for class-- I'd skim and use cliffs notes, or just not do it. Around college, I realized it wasn't the reading I hated, it was the analyzing... to me, it didn't matter what the author was thinking when he elected to use the word "is" on the first page of chapter whatever. And while I largely avoided reading in college by majoring in math and computer science, I only infrequently completed the required reading for most of my other courses. But almost every night when I crawled into bed, before falling asleep I read a book that I wanted to read, regardless of the fact that I invariably hadn't finished my assigned work. I'm a big reader again, but it's all books of my choice, things that I'm interested in, and I read for myself, not anyone else. Now I keep a list of things that look interesting and I've made more progress than I ever did on a syllabus.

    Unfortunately, for many people I think the educational system in this country has as much of a detrimental effect on their desire to read as it has a positive one.

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