Here is a little secret.
People who love to read, carry books everywhere they go, have more than 1 e-reader (some e-books are ONLY available on Kindle, so I NEED a Kindle and a Kobo), have more books on their to-be-read list than could be read in a lifetime…those weirdos, they hate it when they are forced to read a certain book.
Yes. You know the feeling that you get when your English teacher burdens you with reading 80 pages of The Old Man and the Sea by Monday. That feeling of “I hate it…I don’t want to…why?!?” Yep, we weirdos feel it too. Maybe even worse than you, dear reluctant reader, who barely cracks open the front cover before retreating to Sparknotes.
In fact, enthusiastic readers may have it worse because we have dozens of books we would much rather read than the assigned reading. We know how to deep dive into a book and shut out the rest of world, but assigned reading rarely lets us do this. Instead, we hear the siren call of our book stack asking us to come out and play. “I can’t now stack of delight because I HAVE to read 80 pages about some old guy who wants to catch a fish before he dies.”
We hate it too.
The problem with assigned reading is that it is forced. There is no choice, you have to do it. Blah.
If you want to lessen the dread, there are some strategies.
Read next year’s books this summer. I used to do this in high school. I would find out what novels would be required and read them over the summer. That way it was a little more my choice when and how fats I would read them. This allowed me to not only get my reading done ahead, but also gave me space and time to develop my own opinions about the stories before my classmates started complaining about how boring and awful Great Expectations is.
Develop a cogent reason why the book sucks. You are allowed to hate a book. Maybe it isn’t for you, maybe it is overly long, maybe you don’t understand the book’s brilliance. Remember somebody picked that book for you to read. He or she must have had a reason beyond pure sadism. You can disagree with that person, but you must have a reason for your opinion. For example, Hemingway’s simplistic prose and futile story is a bleak commentary on the uselessness of life written by a man who ultimately committed suicide. I see no value in reading such a book as its messaging is unilateral and its prose provides little challenge.
Pretend it is interesting. Yes, fake it until you make it. Your attitude will play a big part in how you feel about a book. If you decide before you even start that the book is an awful torture, then guess what…the book will be an awful torture. However, if you re-frame your attitude, you might not like the book but you will increase your chance of tolerating it.
In life, we all have to do things we don’t want to do, but attitude is everything. Make it your choice to read the books. Trust that there is a reason or benefit to these books even if you can’t see it now. Be in control of your own education by engaging with the opportunities given to you.
If you are looking for something “fun” to read this summer in between your assigned reading, check out the reading list in the back of my book:
Guide to SAT Reading: Literature Passages
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