"But I don't like to read! I hate reading!"

published Jun 06, 2008, last modified Jun 26, 2013

I was conversing with a rather nice lady a few days ago -- getting to know each other. I asked her a key question: "What's the last book you read?" and she replied with an answer that is, sadly, too ordinary these days: "aw, naw, I don't like to read".

Infrequent readers actively avoid reading. That much we know through direct observation. But is it that she doesn't like to read, and therefore she doesn't read? Hardly.

What is going on here is simple: they avoid reading because they suck at it. Have you seen a person read poorly? Here's how it looks like:

  • Tracking the page with head movements.
  • Tracking the "cursor" with his finger or other object.
  • Mumbling.
  • Reading letter by letter, instead of word by word or sentence by sentence.

Try it by being observant of your friends and family. Everyone who does it will confess to "not liking to read". Ask them why and you'll receive comments like "my head hurts", "my eyes hurt", "I get tired really, really fast", "it bores me".

Of course they're not gonna like to read -- would you like to read if every time you read your head fucking hurt? The irony is that all of those symptoms are caused by themselves -- through the abovementioned practices -- and they don't even know it. You'd think they would have noticed after more than a decade of headaches, don't you? But most people are so absorbed into what they are doing that they don't stop for a minute to think how they're actually doing it:

  • You can't read aloud (or even mumble) what you're reading, because the two parts of the brain that do reading/speaking cannot work simultaneously How do you expect to read fast if you are constantly multitasking? Stuff a golf ball in your mouth every time you read -- it will help you lose this bad habit.
  • Don't read letters, ever. Each word has a shape -- once you've gotten past mumbling, you'll instinctively detect it.
  • Don't move your head. It makes your neck hurt. Move your eyes if you need to, and if you're moving your eyes too much, put the text far enough away to stop doing it.
  • Don't track. Your brain is wired to pick the next line up just fine as long as you don't get interrupted.

I know that schools don't teach this -- and that they should be doing it. Let's not get philosophical here; just apply what you learned here to your life and your kids'. Smack them in the back of the head if you catch them all Rain-Man while reading. And take a speed-reading course to learn what I learnt through my observations, and much more -- they are worth the money -- the Renaissance of reading on the Internet isn't going away anytime soon.

And for the "reading bores me" excuse? Just fucking start several books or Web sites and stick with the one you like already. It's not like there's a shortage of books and subjects to feed upon.