Learning to Read Again

This is a personal blog today, to reflect upon my love for books, poetry and all things decorated up in pretty words. Learning to read again was possibly one of the most difficult yet rewarding goals of recent years, considerably aided by my University course and a graphic novel that I got last Christmas.

The ability to read, to focus upon the words and absorb stories was cruelly stolen from my mind, a lingering side effect from the TIA in 2013. It was this health scare which helped me turn my life around (which appears to be an ongoing long … possibly life long process of self development with brief episodes of ‘Meh’) the same health scare which spurred me to enroll in University in the first place.

I’m going to try and put my frustration into words. I have always loved reading, from an early age when my Dad read ‘Lord of the Rings’ to me as a bedtime tale. I collected books, novels, naturally, but also many books upon the Paranormal and the Supernatural. Anything weird and wonderful, mysterious and exotic. I read with a hunger, soaking up words, delighting in each morbid case. Then I lost it all, following the TIA, the simple of act of reading was gone from my mind. I would stare at a page, the same page for what felt like hours, I would look at the words, I knew what the words meant, I knew if I string together a series of words that they should make sense in that order, they would create a sentence and tell me something. I knew that, so why was I still gazing at the same word? Why was I stuck? I felt like there was this invisible barrier in my head, all the words went in, through my eyes, hit this barrier and splurggggedsssdsfg… Nothing, my brain could not translate words and my heart was breaking.

It has taken me three years to finish  The Last Wish by Andrzej Sapkowski three bloody years to read a simple 300-ish page novel, the sort of shit that should have taken no time at all. Yet each word was like agony, I read and re-read pages, chapters, sentences… I gave up and for a long time the book haunted me like a ghost of reading past, mocking me, mocking my broken abilities.

The reading list we were given at University filled me with dread, I was struggling to read the handouts, class was like this jumble sale of ideas and chatter, a close knit of friends who adored to share knowledge and opinions without hostility and I flourished with this verbal exchange. However I could not work my slow painful way through a single novel, I improvised enough to scrape through classes with a vague understanding of each story, which only heightened my desire to re-read again as I was introduced to classics, old favorites and shit I really hated.

As a child one of my teachers thought I might have had dyslexia, one of the only teachers I had who didn’t think I was just ‘slow’… Though I moved home and nothing more was said about this in my new school and the idea was dismissed, it’s not something I know much about, but I do know that the use of coloured paper can help and this is how a graphic novel lead me in my own adventure back into books…

The images brought to life the snappy dialogue and brief narratives. There was just enough for my addled mind to read and I delighted in the action packed drama, all wrapped up in glorious technicolour. I felt like a big kid again with my weekly issues of 2000AD, thrilled that I could grasp a story without blankly letting the letters merge together into a puddle of nonsense.

I did not express my struggles to my lecturer, I’m not sure I’ve really approached this subject with anyone really, it’s not something I’ve ever felt comfortable discussing, or should I say admitting… I felt ashamed with my inability to read on a creative writing course, yet it also propelled me with some determination to get over this stumbling block. I mean the ability to read still had to be inside my head somewhere, I just needed a way to rewire the route between my eyes and the little bit in my head which translated the scribbles into scenes. Having the scenes there assisted this process and even though sometimes, when I get tired my brain goes blank and stops consuming words, so the letters dance on the page like a morbid mockery, then one simply rests.

I’m reading two books currently and delighting in every word in both, I’m buying new books and looking forward to delving into their pages, I’ve even devised my own reading list and branching my new found literacy discovery into various directions of genre. My passion has returned and with my desire for reading I am also writing more, even if only through the pages of my little blog.


Anne Harrison 18.02.18


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