Maybe I’m not such a bad reader after all…

I have never classified myself as a reader and, quite frankly, I probably never will.  In high school, I only read what was required of me.  But I must mention that I recently finished the last book of The Hunger Games triliogy!  This was quite an accomplishment, seeing as I started reading it on Spring Break during my Senior year of high school.  My whole family loves to read, so they think it’s strange that I don’t.  In high school, I would actually do really poorly on the quizzes that just tested my ability to read and regurgitate information, yet some of the papers that involved more analyzing and argumentation often resulted in me getting good grades.  Interestingly enough, I would have to write a few drafts for me to do well on these simple papers.  I was never one to stick to a certain format. To this day, I am awful at writing thesis statements.  However, my amazing ability to bullshit my way through high school essays allowed me to do well in my classes.

I used to think that this was a bad thing.  I was never exactly considered a “good” reader because I wasn’t disciplined enough to go through and pick facts out of a book to memorize for a quiz- I was (and still am) a very distracted reader.  I have always been slow at reading, which was discouraging, but part of the reason for this was because while I was reading I would try to determine what arguments the author was trying to make and compare my opinions to theirs.  I would get lost in trying to find meaning behind the author’s arguments and whether or not I felt the same way.  According to my English teachers, I wasn’t really reading if I didn’t know specific facts.  The ACT seemed to agree with those teachers, as it was, by far, my lowest score on the test.

However, I would love to bring Penrose and Geisler’s piece into one of my old English teacher’s classrooms.  I would love to let them know that, even though I wasn’t good at picking out facts, I was damn good at writing and reading with authority.  I always needed to turn in multiple copies of my essays because I would write like Roger and they just wanted me to write like Janet.  After putting in a lot of effort, I could write like Janet, but it was not how I naturally read or wrote.  I am a very opinionated person, and often times that was evident in my writing and my comprehension of an assignment.  I usually don’t have the same opinion as everyone else, but why should that be discouraged?  Isn’t it good to think for yourself and not be influenced by others?  Isn’t it good to think outside of the box?

Penrose and Geisler’s piece made me feel a lot better about myself as a writer and a reader.  There really isn’t a way to define “good writing,” especially when our school systems only emphasize memorizing and recalling information.  Just because someone isn’t good at such a technique isn’t a bad thing and just because someone isn’t good at reading and forming their own opinions isn’t a bad thing either (in fact, it makes high school a LOT easier!)  It is interesting that I just put all of this thought into whether or not I’m a “good reader.”  I don’t really think it matters all that much, because in the end, I enjoy writing a lot more than reading.  And hey, I got accepted into the Minor in Writing, so that must mean I am at least slightly talented, right?

2 thoughts to “Maybe I’m not such a bad reader after all…”

  1. Thanks for sharing! It’s scary how much I can relate to what you wrote. As I was reading your post, I kept nodding to myself, while thinking, “hey! that’s me.” My whole family LOVES to read, and sometimes it makes me feel like an outcast because that’s definitely not one of my hobbies. As much as I would like it to be, I just don’t think it’ll ever happen. Although, I did read the Hunger Games and loved every page! I wasn’t able to put each one down (which is so unlike me). I definitely wouldn’t consider myself a “good” reader either, so it’s nice to know that I’m not the only one who feels this way!

    I like how you write about not being able to define “good writing,” and I think there’s a lot of truth to that statement. Writing is so subjective, so how could someone tell you if you’re a good or bad writer? Personally, I think if you write with passion and truthfulness, you’ve written a “good” piece of writing.

    Thanks for your insight and you are talented! Don’t let anyone try to convince you otherwise, because what do they know?

  2. It’s so interesting to me that you always looked at the arguments an deeper structure in high school. As a high schooler, I definitely fell victim to the “read and regurgitate” model that teachers pounded into our heads, and this hindered me greatly when I got to college. I couldn’t be bothered to try and find deeper meanings or pick out arguments, and I never revised my papers so that they came out more like Roger.

    Surely there must be a reason that we are always taught to read at surface level and to relay information like Janet, even though this causes a lot of frustration in college. Why do you think this is? Your ability to disregard this technique and always read deeper is definitely a mark of your talent as a writer (and a reader!), so you must be doing something right.

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