True Confessions of a Reluctant Reader: a guest post by author Aimee Carter
I have a confession to make. I’m a reluctant reader.
When I was a kid, my dad paid me to read. We made a deal: for every book I read on my own, he gave me a quarter. To a six-year-old, that was a pretty big deal, and I saved them all up to buy toys (instead of books, like my dad had hoped). But no matter how many quarters I collected, I still didn’t catch the bug for reading. My dad, who’s an avid reader and writer, was convinced something wasn’t right. I was his kid, after all. There had to be a story out there that would unlock my genetic predisposition to read everything in sight.
It wasn’t that I didn’t know how to read. I liked some books, especially ones about mythology and Disney characters. But on our weekly trips to the bookstore, I always sought out those same stories, and I never gave others more than a passing glance.
My dad tried everything to get me to read more. The quarter reward went up to a dollar. I was allowed to check out as many books as I wanted from the library. He sought out sequels to the stories I enjoyed, as well as other books by those authors. I reluctantly gave each one a few pages. Sometimes he managed to unearth a gem I wound up adding to my limited collection, but most of the books he found just didn’t match my style. Problem was, there didn’t seem to be many out there that did.
I wish I could say I overcame my reluctance and dove into books like an all-you-can-read buffet. I did, in a way—I eventually reached the point where I was constantly reading, but it was always those same books. When I found a story I loved, I read it over and over until the pages fell out and I had to buy new copies. My reading tastes were much like my childish palate: I liked very specific things, and I was reluctant to try anything new. When I did, I usually made a face and quickly moved on to something familiar.
In my teens, I discovered Harry Potter. For three years before Order of the Phoenix came out, I rotated through the first four books. As soon as I ended Goblet of Fire, I started back on Sorcerer’s Stone, and they were all I read. Not because of an obsessive personality, but because I had outgrown the books I read as a kid, and I couldn’t find anything else I enjoyed. I was too picky, but I also loved immersing myself in a world and following characters I loved. Finding that in another book was next to impossible, and while I loved to read, after a while I gave up trying to find something new.
And then I discovered fan fiction – the art of writing stories in another author’s universe. The Harry Potter fan fiction community was thriving, and I devoured hundreds, if not thousands of stories set in Harry Potter’s world. When I couldn’t find the kind of fanfic I wanted to read, I began to write my own. A few hundred words at first, but eventually I was writing thousands of words a day. Somehow, through some strange alchemy, I turned into the reader and writer my dad had always wanted me to be.
To this day, I still have a hard time finding something new to read. I browse bookstores often, always picking out a book that looks interesting in hopes that this will be the one that makes me want to read everything in sight. But no matter how many books I buy, I still have a hard time finding something I finish. Not because the books aren’t any good – I usually pick them up after my friends rave about them – but because of that same reluctance that stopped me when I was a kid. No matter how much time passes, I can’t shake it.
Instead, I write the books I want to read. I never reread them once they’re published, but the act of writing them lets me experience a world I crave, and it satisfies my need to find something new that I love. It isn’t a perfect system, but it keeps me busy, and I hold out hope that maybe one of my stories will help a reluctant reader discover the kind of books he or she loves.Either way, my dad was right: there is a story out there for everyone. Sometimes we find it right away, along with hundreds or thousands more like it. But sometimes it takes a bit of searching, and that’s okay, too.
The Goddess Inheritance will be released by Harlequin Teen on February 26, 2013. Aimee will have a new series, The Blackcoat Rebellion, coming from Harlequin Teen in November of 2013.
This is Aimee’s bio, stolen right off of her web page: I attended the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and received a degree in Screen Arts and Cultures (a fancy way of saying I was forced to watch a lot of old movies) with a subconcentration in Screenwriting. I write. I watch a lot of new movies. Read a lot of books. Tweet too much. Love dogs and have two spoiled Papillons.
About Karen Jensen, MLS
Karen Jensen has been a Teen Services Librarian for almost 30 years. She created TLT in 2011 and is the co-editor of The Whole Library Handbook: Teen Services with Heather Booth (ALA Editions, 2014).
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