While I was in school, I remember kids groaning about having to read books. We had assigned reading material, we had the S.O.A.R program (no I don’t remember what it means, I’m just amazed I can remember what the thing was called), we had Accelerated Reader where you could take little “tests” and get points and those with the highest points got rewarded (usually with your name on a piece of paper in the hallway so everyone else could make fun of you for “reading too much.”) I remember groaning about having to read specific books, having book reports. But, I also remember when it was a good week when I didn’t spectacularly fail the spelling test. I also remember never having a “set” area to look for books in the public library. My mom, being the awesome woman that she is, was always encouraging me to find things that I like and I knew my limits on reading.
I got better as time went on. I am actually slightly dyslexic (and I still have to stop and think how to spell that whenever I type it out) and I still have spurts of misspellings and poor grammar, but I’m comfortable in my weirdness and quirks. And I’ve come out with an interesting little perspective and writing style (at least, that’s how it appears to me). I went from “that weird kid who reads ghost stories” to “that weird adult who is always. fucking. reading.”
I may not be reading a book, but I am reading. I’m reading articles, checking Fark, seeing Twitter updates by people like Neil Gaiman and Wil Wheaton (why yes, I am a huge geek), at some point I’ll look at fanfiction, and I will read a book. Sometimes I go between two or three books at a time, and sometimes I slog through one book for a few weeks.
At my…now previous job, I had people come up and ask me if I came in with a different book every day. Some days I would plow through about two or three books, sometimes it was the same book for about a week. A couple of people went off about how they “hate books” or “never read” because it’s not something they do. One of the people who continued with his “never read” bits, I could understand because he was an older gentleman and he pointed out that the most with reading he did was read the newspaper. One of the other people who pointed out that they hated books and reading was around my age.
I had to think: was it due to the stigma of assigned reading and book reports? Was it being burned out over schooling and the 40+ lbs of textbooks-n-things we were forced to carry around for 8 hours a day. Was it because he had never come across a Really Good Book that he fell in love with and wanted to continue with this? Did he come across a Really Bad Book and became completely disenchanted with the written work? Is it because I live in an area where it’s more acceptable to be a…damned idiot than to prove that you’re worth more than “Did you find everything alright?”
With my now current job, I’m running into the same bizarre…stigma on reading. Quite a few of my coworkers are absolutely shocked that I read. (yes, currently I am still working my way through Clash of Kings. I have 250 pages left so that’s a plus) I have a coworker who proudly informed me that he “only reads” Douglas Adams.
Douglas Adams is great! Love Hitchhiker’s Guide, but that’s a really fucking narrow. No other fantasy, no other science fiction. Nothing else, just his work and while that’s great he’s reading, that is also extremely limiting. Then again, this person also stated that he only watches “Dexter” and that is all so I find it all very strange.
But the amount of pride in his tone when he stated he “only reads” one author was the same amount of pride that the kid from my previous job used when he said he “hated to read.” I really don’t get that. Why are you so proud to not read? Is it some sort of accomplishment on the Dumbass Scale? Do you get a merit badge?
This really boggles my mind. So, you happily refuse to go into other worlds and experience different things but without the fear of it actually happening to you? And what really gets me is that it’s not the people who have a hard time with reading, like my dad who has really bad dyslexia (it takes him a few days to read one newspaper article, “explaining” is spelled “splaneing”), but it’s the people who are fully cognitive and yet refuse to crack open a book for one reason or another.
Is it “not cool” to crack open a book? Do you automatically become “more popular” when you flaunt your inane stupidity for the world? If it is “more popular” to be a fucking idiot and proud to not read, I’ll happily stick with being a “fucking weirdo” and enjoying entering strange new worlds or beloved old ones and be etertained.
When I come into a conversation with someone who is very proud of their self-imposed idiocy, I have to remind myself to nod politely and make a mental note that the best conversation I’ll have with the person is about the weather.