How I’m Fixing My Love-Hate Relationship With Reading by@valejegi

How I’m Fixing My Love-Hate Relationship With Reading

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Valerie Ejegi

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The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn. ― Alvin Toffler

I didn’t grow up in a home where reading leisurely was required or even encouraged.

Reading was only necessary when it was time for exams. It didn’t really matter how or when you read, as long as you never came home with a report card with a hint of red ink. That would be the first of many constant reminders of how miserable you should be or how ungrateful you are. Where I come from, the colour red generally connotes anything bad, evil, clandestine, or outrightly forbidden.

My Inhibitions

Eventually, I came round to reading one day.

Finishing my very first novel - Daniel Steel’s Kaleidoscope was my Eureka moment (I’ll always love you, Daniel - your words enlightened me). I could happily add reading to my list of favorite things to do, or so I thought.

In time, I realized I grew weary of reading non-fiction. On my side of the globe (and probably everywhere else), these best-sellers were everywhere - the John Maxwells, the Robert Kiyosakis, the Ben Carsons. The fact that you had read these inspirational books gradually became something to gloat over. I quickly formed an opinion about people who read these kinds of books - They had found a way to derive some sort of self-worth from reading them (my prejudiced and mortified opinion.)

I felt like a fraud at some point. I really did love books, or maybe it was just the sight of them. The fact is, I know better now. It was my approach to reading that held me captive. I was a victim of my ignorance, and I have paid dearly for it.

There is so much to learn about reading. From prepping a reading environment to taking notes and making book recommendations. I’ve found out that I had been going about it all wrong and for so long reading for the right reasons but with the wrong approach, and that’s why I never really read many great books.


Photo Credit: Grand Sinder Instagram

Now, I am Free

I realized I had been limiting myself based on several societal norms and misconceptions about reading). Let’s highlight a few prominent ones, shall we?

  • Quitting a book is forbidden - If you’ve bought it, you must read it at all costs.
  • You should read just one book at a time.
  • Reading a book again in a very subtle way means you are dumb.
  • Reading should be sequential. It gives a sense of normalcy.

But the truth is

  • What’s the big deal about quitting a book that’s not quite cutting it for you? I save my time and myself the agony eventually.
  • What’s so wrong with reading several books at a time? It’s not condescending for books; they don’t have feelings, plus it helps my brain create stronger connections across different fields.
  • Reading a book again can’t mean I am dumb. Far from it! It only helps with retention. This has been scientifically proven to reinforce long-term memory.

“Some books leave us free and some books make us free.”

- Ralph Waldo Emerson

In for the long haul

Hopefully, your situation is not as pathetic as mine, and if it is then, maybe we can ride this redemption ship together. With Johnny’s help, I have summarized in my own way some hard truths I intend to tell myself every time I see myself spill back into my old futile ways of reading.

  • If it ain’t working, move on and don’t cry over spilled milk. I need to save time and energy to enjoy and retain what I read.
  • If I don’t wear the same clothes for all occasions, why would I think I would want to read the same book every time? I will switch between books when I need to as often as I need to
  • Sometimes I might need the pineapple pulp, sometimes I might need just the juice, and sometimes I might need the peel (it’s a good Immune booster, by the way). I take what I need, when I need it, as often as I need it, and I won’t feel guilty about the choices I make.

I am taking steady and intentional steps to unlearn unhealthy reading habits and learn new healthy ones. It starts now, and I’m pretty excited about it!

  • [ ]3 Books at a time…
  • [ ]2 Chapters a week….
  • [ ]1 HackerNoon story a day…


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