There’s a book for everyone
My husband is a self-professed avoider of reading. Put it this way, he hasn’t yet read my book. Occasionally I threaten him with it, just to make him do the washing up …
When I first met him he was a mathematician. He’d read maths or science text books, books about cricket, Calvin and Hobbes comic strips, Dilbert, the paper and programme previews on Sky.
Then I discovered that he also read scripts! He had the script for Usual Suspects and the complete Blackadder script book. It turns out that Andy’s general problem with reading is that he simply doesn’t have the imagination to visualise the characters (he has the same problem with interior decorating – he can’t visualise the idea I’m trying to sell), so fiction (and DIY) leaves him cold. He can read a script because, having seen the actor delivering the lines, he can see an image of the character in his head.
In the past he has tried to read classics. I believe he made inroads into such epics as ‘A Town Called Alice’ and ‘Brighton Rock’. When those failed to grab him he gave up, believing that if he didn’t like ‘the best’ he just simply wasn’t ‘a reader’.
My husband starting on ‘Brighton Rock’ is like someone who’s been in a wheelchair all their life, starting out, not with a gentle stroll along the road, but a hike up the Atlas Mountains. And I believe it’s a common mistake. How many so called ‘non-readers’ have reached an age where they think they should read, picked up Ulysses, not been able to ‘get into it’ and gone back to never reading at all?
So I looked around for a book that would be easy / fun to read, which had crime in it (Usual Suspects connection) and which (the key bit for Andy) had incredibly strong characterisation and lots of dialogue. I found Janet Evanovich’s One for the Money. Luckily Evanovich has written about seventeen in her Stephanie Plum series and he’s worked his way through almost ten of them. He loves them. He loves Grandma Mazur and is thoroughly entrenched in ‘Team Morelli’. I then bought him the whole Ian Fleming collection (he loves Bond films) and he literally read about two a week. Suddenly my husband is a reader.
My daughter has been a reader since birth. She used to fall asleep to the sound of me reading, she’s been reading independently since age four and has loved every single book I’ve ever pointed her to. My son, not so much. He shouted at me to stop every time I tried to read to him and he threw books at me if I tried to nudge him towards them. ‘Maybe he’s like his Dad’ I thought. So I went on a mission to find the right book. Finally I found it. Who’s Tail was the winner. He couldn’t get enough of it. Then Dinosaurs Love Underpants, which I had to read non-stop for two hours on one memorable train journey. Now he loves books as much as his sister. In fact we’re going through tantrums at bedtime when I have to stop reading to him!
So when I went on my first school visit and several of the boys said they didn’t like reading, I confidently assured them that they simply hadn’t found the right book yet. Now, my book might not be that book, but the right book is out there.
I do believe that there’s a book for everyone, a magical book that will get all so called non-readers into this world.
If you’ve got a non-reader on your hands, why not get them a library card? Tell them to take out ten books at a time until they find the right one. It doesn’t matter if they don’t read nine of them … it’s free.