Something I’ve Lost: When did I stop being a reader?


I don’t know when I became so bad at reading.

Even as a child I loved books, avidly consuming Doctor Who novelisations I picked up from the library, or the now-classic UK Transformers comic. I was the sort of person who could read while walking, just about managing not to collide with lampposts or pedestrians or moving buses.

Somewhere along the line I made the transition to non-fiction, and this just fuelled my inner-nerd, teaching me about times and places that had previously been mysteries, and opening up new vistas. I’d follow my nose, indulging mayfly-like passions for subjects before moving on. Books were portals to knowledge, to information, to whole new worlds.

But now I read a lot less, and frankly it bothers me. I want that passion back. I can blame its disappearance on many things, everything from embracing Twitter to learning to drive, but really those are just excuses and I can’t afford to give them succour. Fact is, I’ve lost a part of myself along the way and now I want it back.

Maybe it’s because I’ve been getting e-books more, mainly for reasons of space. I have no problem with eReaders, but maybe I haven’t fully adapted to them yet; their content lacks presence, failing to exert the gravitational pull of a book made out of paper and ink. But this argument would only really have merit if I were still devouring physical books like I used to. I’m not. I’ve experienced Writer’s Block a few times, but while I was worrying about that, I was ignoring a far more serious outbreak of Reader’s Block.

(And don’t get me started on my RSS feed getting away from me. I actually feel guilty about that.)

I’d ask what I could do to fix this, but the answer is ridiculously simple – “Just pick up a book and read more, emo!”. Simple, yes, but not something I’m actually doing.

Anyway, enough moaning. I just want to be a reader again, to replace something I’ve lost with something that’s been found, reborn. Any ideas?


8 thoughts on “Something I’ve Lost: When did I stop being a reader?

  1. egb63


    1) set a gaol – and keep track in public.


    2) I just post what I read on my blog – just title and author – maybe a little more – everynow and then I put up a real reviiew – which encourages me to remember to read

    1. matthewhyde Post author

      The accountability of this sounds like a good way of getting disciplined enough to keep reading. I’ve never really blogged about specific books before, but it’s something I’m starting to think about…

  2. recommended2u

    Yes, like yourself, I switched from fiction to non-fiction, even though I avidly read many of the classics and my preferred genre, sci-fi. But after devouring a lot of non-fiction, including philosophy and self-help books, for some reason I started picking up fiction again. It was a sweet refreshing change; and I had forgotten that much truth can be communicated in fictional literature.

    I’m not sure what got me in to reading books again, after being consumed with the internet. I believe it has to do with people in my life. Either I noticed some one I cared about was reading, or the fact that it turned out I personally knew an author, I’m not sure. When I went to my high school reunion I learned that my classmate, Lisa Scottoline, was a NY Times best selling author. She didn’t attend, unfortunately, nor did she respond to a letter I wrote her.

    But I had the honor of sitting next to a nationally known figure at the reunion dinner. People kept coming up to Bob Garfield and congratulating him on his excellent job as co-host of On The Media, the weekly radio program on NPR heard in the Philadelphia area Sundays from 11 to noon. I know that this has nothing to do with reading–just got carried away from the related topic in the second paragraph.

    So, my advice to you, is notice some one you care about who is reading a book, put yourself in their place for a moment, then emulate them.

    1. matthewhyde Post author

      I think there’s a lot of truth in this, and it’s certainly something that’s worked in the past – mainly with comic books, but the principle is the same…

      (On a side note, I think I’ve heard of In The Media, but I don’t believe it’s broadcast in the UK – is it worth checking out online?)

  3. Deborah the Closet Monster

    Hmm. What did it for me was my friend Sarah shoving her favorite books in my direction persistently enough that I finally started one or two. I did so thinking, “Sure, right, I’ll definitely finish one.” I then found that one of them really did capture my fancy, and over the course of one book found my passion rekindled. I don’t have the time to read a book or two a day the way I used to, but a book or two a month helps me feel I’m still in touch with my younger self. Pick up a handful of books, perhaps, and tell yourself you’ll read a couple of pages from each? That’s how it started for me, after the Sarah bit!

    1. matthewhyde Post author

      I think that’s part of it – removing the pressure to FINISH a book and be happy to just work through a few pages until I decide whether or not to stick with it. I’ve always been someone who believes in finishing a book once started, even if it’s not very good – life’s too short!

  4. Pingback: Grasping the Reading Nettle « Geeks Shall Inherit the Earth

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