by Eric Watermolen
I love to learn, but I used to hate reading. Maybe it was all the boring reading assignments back in high school. Maybe it was the books I was forced to read and report on every detail of plot, theme, setting… Maybe it was a lack of interest. Maybe it was because there was something better on TV, and TV watching required less effort. I feel that I could go on and on making excuses to avoid reading.
Then one day, several years after high school, I had the bright idea that reading could actually be fun. I’m not sure what sparked it. It may have been thinking back to some of the few books on the high school reading list that I actually enjoyed (or actually read; Clif notes were my friend back then.) I remembered reading Brave New World and how enjoyable that book was too read. I thought back to the Choose Your Own Adventure books, where I was able to guide the story by making a choice and flipping around in the book to continue the story. I thought back to The Little Prince, remembering very little of it, but having some shred of a fond memory remaining.
Wait a second!
It was like a switch flipped in my brain. I did like reading. I had been reading magazines for years. I read some non-fiction books on and off, and had really liked learning little tidbits of wisdom and knowledge. I wanted something more though. I wanted reading to be FUN. I wanted to LOVE reading. Deep down I knew it was possible. It had to be, I’ve seen plenty of people reading, and the book industry was alive and well. Libraries still had patrons and book stores were still in business. Somebody must be reading all those books, and some of them had to really love reading.
My quest began. The first question was, “What book would be a good reintroduction to reading?” I wanted something that was practically guaranteed to be good. That’s a tall order, something that everyone might love, something that I would love.
I knew the only place to start would be classic literature. They are called classics for a reason, right? They have withstood the test of time. I turned to my trusty dial up Internet connection… bzzz, bing, bong, bong. (This was mid 90’s before high speed Internet was readily available.)
I did a couple of searches. I searched for high school reading lists (those darn high school teachers actually picked some good books, who knew?) I also searched for classic literature and authors of classic literature. I came up with a short list of authors.
Ernest Hemingway, Jules Verne, John Steinbeck, Herman Melville.
This is where I would begin, with these authors.
The first step
The book I chose to begin this quest to love reading was The Old Man and the Sea, by Ernest Hemingway. It seemed to be the perfect starting point. The book was relatively short, had a manly topic, and was written by a great author. Looking back on it now, this was the perfect choice. I LOVED that book. I could hardly put it down once I started reading. I whipped through that book in no time at all.
Next up, The Little Prince. Still not convinced that reading was FUN, I wanted another short book. The search for a short book combined with the fond memories I had put this on my radar as book number two. (It wasn’t on my list of authors, but it felt right to read this one next.)
Another great choice. I remembered this book as a child, or maybe I remembered the cartoon. In any case, the fond memories were there, but I didn’t realize this was a grown up book disguised as a children’s book. It has some very grown up themes.
How thoroughly enjoyable to stumble across this discovery. The experiment was working, I definitely liked reading. How about LOVING it? I was sure this feeling was on the horizon. I could almost see that love peaking over the horizon.
Book number three was Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne. Holy cow man, I could not put this book down. I could hardly believe the thought and level of detail that went into this book. All the ideas seemed plausible and the adventure was amazing. I was really blown away by the level of detail in the scientific gizmos and theories.
Three short books = love of reading
I had done it. In three short books I created a love for reading. Perhaps it had always been there, but was just buried under a pile of everyday life and distractions. In any case, I had done it. I achieved what I set out to achieve. This isn’t one of those goals that just ended once it’s reached however, this achievement stayed with me.
I continued on with more classics including many from Jules Verne: Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, Around the World in Eighty Days, The Mysterious Island. Then a few more from Hemingway: Green Hills of Africa, The Sun also Rises, To Have and Have Not. Some Steinbeck: Tortilla Flats, The Pearl. And one by Herman Melville: Moby Dick.
That was my first year of reading. My experiment was a huge, humongous, resounding success. I now love to read, and I’m always in the middle of two or three books at a time. If you want to find that love of reading, or rekindle it if it’s faded, I suggest starting where I started. You don’t have to start with the exact same books (although I can highly recommend them.)
To summarize, here’s the process to learn to love reading.
Start with the classics.
Find some short books by great authors of classic literature.
Start of slowly and enjoy your time.
Gradually add longer books or try some other authors.
You’ll soon have some new favorites and you will love to read. I guarantee it.
What about you? Any of this sound familiar?
About The Author:
Eric Watermolen is a lifestyle blogger and amateur philosopher. He enjoys discussions of our path in life; where the path leads, the adventure along the path, and the unseen forces that guide us as we progress along our own personal path. You can find him at Eden Journal where he posts a wide spectrum of articles from personal development to spiritual and philosophical awakenings.
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