In fifth grade when all my friends were becoming avid readers of Nancy Drew, I was not a fan. I could read well enough to sit with the highest reading group in the class when we read aloud to the teacher, but it just didn’t grab me. Later, in high school and college, I read the classics and started to appreciate literature, but reading for fun eluded me until I was an adult.
Now, however, in my late sixties, I am losing my love of reading, and it’s not because of visual problems. My trifocals help me see just fine. Nor is it the time element. I am retired and could spend my whole day reading, after my daily walk and minimal chores. It is something else.
For one thing, fiction bores me. Maybe it’s because I have tried to write my own fiction and have taken the fiction-writer training. I recognize other writers struggling with the techniques of fiction, trying to keep the action going, trying to make characters likable or villainous, trying to “show not tell.” Maybe it’s because I am reading books other than the classics: modern women’s novels, bestsellers, pulp.
Nonfiction used to engage me better, but now I often give up halfway through the book. It’s putting me to sleep with jargon, erudite arguments, or just tedious writing. I used to plow through the most professorly prose and at least get the gist. Not any more. Maybe my brain is starting to give up the struggle, or maybe I am unwilling to work that hard in my old age. The remaining years are too short to spend them reading hard books.
So, friends, if you know a book that you can promise won’t bore me or over-fly my head, please send me the title. I am willing to let go of my identity as a reader if I must, but maybe there is hope for me somewhere.