Monday, August 19, 2013

Reader's Block

     I am a writer, and therefore I am a reader. I don't think the two can be separate. I would like to say that I read a lot. Sadly, that's not the case, or at least I don't feel I measure up to others whom I consider to be "serious readers". I recently found myself envying a friend who said that he was pestered by his teachers to go outside during recess while he preferred to stay inside and read books. In my mind, there are few greater things than this.

     If that's so, then, why don't I read more? If I find reading so great, great enough to defy most of the social pressures that outside forces put upon us, then why don't I do it more? I feel somewhat ashamed when I find that most of my time is consumed not by active reading, but more passive TV watching, or worse, nothing at all. I ask myself, "Why aren't I more like one of those people who seem like they devour books like salad?" I've come up with two explanations.

     The first is that I'm just too lazy. At present I am trying to work through some of the classics, to gain a better rounded literary knowledge. But that can be difficult, since there are a number of classics that are, quite frankly, not as engaging as some of the other things I might want to read. Then I frequently find myself arguing with myself whether or not I should start reading something else at the same time as whatever other book I'm engaged in, only to determine that I'll do that later, when I'm done with the present book.

     Another possibility is fear. Perhaps I have too great standards and expect too much of books. I've always been a very picky eater, and I wonder if that's not the case in reading too. When the books I read don't meet my expectations, I get very disappointed and even gloomy. I hate it when I find a book bad, when it doesn't measure up to my standard of quality. Therefore, I'm leery about trying anything because I'm afraid that it will turn out badly, and then I'll be upset, dejected, and frustrated. A good recent example is Orwell's 1984, which I read for a literature class. I had often given thought to reading it and was somewhat eager when I learned we would be reading it for the class. But then it turned out to be one of the most discouraging books I've ever set eyes in. True, I liked the writing--Orwell is a very good writer-- but I absolutely hated the story. It could be that this is why I don't read so much, because the fear of disappointment keeps me from venturing out.

     I can see only one solution to this problem, whether it's laziness or fear, or something else, or a combination of these, I need to stand in spite of all of them. If I do truly feel that reading is a good activity, one to be pursued, then I need to work at it, no matter what tries to keep me from doing it. I'm going to work at fighting fear and laziness, and keep a record of some things I read in this log. The writer is now on a quest to read.

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