When Did You Stop Reading? (Crashcourse, Day 24)

Welcome to Day 24 of Crashcourse!

Who would've thunk it?

Did you ever stop reading fiction? If so, when did you stop? Why? And when did you start reading again?

When Did You Stop Reading?

First things first. I added 1,648 words in four hours of creative editing yesterday. It was an uneventful day and when I was finished, I started thinking about something that’s been on my mind as of late.

Whenever I tell people I’m a writer, something curious happens. Their eyes get a faraway look. Their voices grow kind of wistful and perhaps, a bit sad. “You know, I used to love to read when I was a kid,” they often say. Hmm … this always gets my attention. Books are, after all, my business. But also, I experienced something similar a long time ago. So, I’m always curious to see if other people’s reasons match up with my own.

“So, what happened?” I’ll say. “Why’d you stop reading?” The person’s look will, more often than not, turn quizzical. “I don’t really know,” they’ll reply.

Hmm … now I’m intrigued. What could cause someone to fall out of love with reading? Competition from video games, movies, podcasts, streaming TV, and the Internet? That seems like the most obvious possibility. But when I probe a little deeper, a different story often emerges. Namely, that reading became work, often during the middle school or high school years, and thus, ceased to be fun. Textbooks share part of the blame, of course. But there’s also another side to this. It turns out a lot of people seemed to lose their love for reading once they started analyzing fiction (especially fiction they never wanted to read in the first place). Ahh, this is curious since it’s my experience as well. Were you forced to read Shakespeare in, say, seventh grade? Did you tear it apart and analyze it week after week? If so, did it increase your love of reading? Maybe, but if my experience and conversations are an indicator, it turned off a lot of kids, too. Reading for fun is a wonderful experience. And it seems there’s no quicker way to destroy that experience than to force kids to read books they don’t want to read at a rigorous level. Fortunately for me, I learned to love reading again, but it didn’t happen until I finished schooling. Many people that I meet never read for fun again.

Anyway what’s your experience? Did you stop reading at some point in your life? Can you pinpoint the moment it happened? If so, send me a note. I’d love to hear your story!

Crashcourse Totals

Daily Total: 1,648 words in 4:00. 412 words/hour

Total: 23,986 words in 39:42. 604 words/hour

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