Why I Read?

These past few weeks as a cohort in the Writing Minor have forced me to search more deeply than perhaps than I have been required to before into the way that I write and the motivation behind it. The “Why I Write” assignment in itself was hugely impactful; for the first time since I came to college, I actually stopped and forced myself to go beyond my usual “I love to read, and therefore I love to write” answer. The past few readings we have been assigned have been eye opening, as well. I had never previously considered that the reader and the writer might be one in the same. I particularly enjoyed “Reading and Writing Without Authority.” The disparity between a piece of writing by someone who feels him or herself an authority figure on the particular topic and a piece of writing by someone who lacks confidence and even general knowledge about the topic that he or she chose. Specifically, I have found that often times when someone is working with very little experience or knowledge, that writer tends to inappropriately use large words or complex sentence structures, attempting to sound intelligent and well-versed on the subject but in fact making it all the more evident that the author has little to know idea what he or she is doing. I also believe, however, that it is impossible not to sound pompous or verbose on certain topics.

On a separate note, I also very much enjoyed the reading about reading. Haas and Flower’s “Rhetorical Reading Strategies and the Construction of Meaning” provided a highly insightful commentary about reading and how difficult it can be to refrain from simply skimming over long blocks of text, or reading without truly paying attention to the words. This is a problem I frequently struggle with; I can sympathize completely with people suffering from attention issues when I am faced with a long block of text. I wonder at the point of many of the articles I am assigned to read for some of my classes; we go over the information in lecture, so what is the point of forcing me to read long, confusing, and often circuitous articles that only serve to further confuse and frustrate me. I can absolutely appreciate the merit of highly academic writing, but I also think that, as students and not experts on any of these subjects, we would be better served by a professor’s summary or interpretation of the readings. The statement “If we view reading as the act of constructing multi-faceted yet integrated representations, we might hypothesize that the problem students have with critical reading of difficult texts is less the representations they are constructing than those they fail to construct” resonated with me particularly – often times, we know that we are supposed to take meaning from the texts we are assigned, and therefore we construct simple and shallow meanings in our mind, completely missing the entire point of the text and perhaps the idea itself.

Going forward, I plan to keep all of this in mind. I was already aware of the changes that I needed to make to the way that I critically read texts for class, and these articles have pushed me to actually address that problem rather than hope it gets better with time.

magnifying glass

2 thoughts to “Why I Read?”

  1. I think the thing I related most to in your post was the temptation to skim long blocks of text. I think that especially in an academic setting where we are expected to read articles and essays that could span thirty pages or more, it’s incredibly difficult to maintain a focused interest for so long and absorb everything properly. I too often find myself wondering what the point is when I’m reading an article for class so that definitely resonated with me. I also liked your comment about people trying to sound more eloquent in their writing in an attempt to make up for a lack of content. That is always one of the most frustrating things about reading to me.

  2. I definitely agree with many of your thoughts on the “Reading and Writing Without Authority” article. When I have to write essays about things that I barely have information about, I find myself doing a similar thing to what you do and using unnecessarily hard words that only clog up the clarity of the writing. It’s ironic because you’d think if we didn’t have much information, we would write things in a more humble, cautious manner instead of writing as though we have that kind of pompous tone. I guess the real experts that write don’t really need to write pompously because they have their well informed opinions and facts to speak for themselves.

Leave a Reply