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Old 01-14-2020, 01:01 PM
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Do non-readers really see reading as the same as studying?


So, I was texting with a high school friend of mine and telling him that I set a goal to read 52 books this year, but I hope Iíve blown through that by July 4.

He kept asking me odd questions like how would I remember all of that information. Tried to explain to him that I donít have exams or a substantial paper and if I forget a few details, no harm no foul. Iím still growing my knowledge if Iím reading non fiction or I can appreciate the plot and character development in a work of fiction.

I sent him a few YouTube videos and Goodreads challenges. He still seems to equate reading with studying.

So, is this something common among those who never res for pleasure? Or is he just making excuses because heíd rather play video games but secretly feels envious?
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Old 01-14-2020, 01:07 PM
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I think he's not very typical if he thinks all reading is studying.
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Old 01-14-2020, 01:19 PM
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People can have trouble with reading for a lot of reasons - poor vocabulary, dyslexia, short attention span/ADD, whatever. If you have to work at reading, you're not likely to develop the habit of reading for pleasure. It's going to feel more like "having to study" than anything else.

My sister's first husband was an engineer, and a damned smart one. I was gobsmacked when I walked into their home and discovered they did not have a single book that wasn't related to engineering. He thought in terms of numbers, not words. My parents started sending my sister books as Christmas and birthday presents.
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Old 01-14-2020, 01:32 PM
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I think a useful analogy is that reading a lot for pleasure is similar to consuming TV or streaming movies. You enjoy it while it's happening, and you may remember certain details and aspects, but you don't intend on recalling ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING written.

I can certainly understand that some people never made that leap, due to difficulties with the physical mechanics of reading.

I would also submit that, strange at it sounds, some people may just lack what we might term "imagination" that gets triggered by reading.
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Old 01-14-2020, 02:49 PM
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Am I unusual in that I “study” for pleasure? The subject has to interest me, of course, but it’s one of my favorite hobbies. I’ll read multiple books exploring the subject from different perspectives ( usually 6-12 books per subject ) and I’ll also search for shorter articles to fill in gaps or answer questions that come up. Then sometimes I’ll write a paper or two exploring different angles of the subject - no one sees these but me usually, but it's a good way for me to organize my thoughts. And if the subject ever comes up on the SDMB, I may pull up excerpts and work them into my posts.

If the subject is interesting, I love to to study.

Last edited by Ann Hedonia; 01-14-2020 at 02:50 PM.
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Old 01-14-2020, 03:16 PM
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Ann, I'm afraid that makes you a neo maxi zoom dweebie.
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Old 01-14-2020, 03:19 PM
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Some people take notes for the church sermon, most just listen, or check their iPhones. Some students diligently record what the professor is staying, others listen some others check their iPhones. People learn in different ways, and some check their iPhones.

No harm not fowl.
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Old 01-14-2020, 03:35 PM
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I used to teach high school science. When Ted Geisel died, I told my advanced class that Dr. Seuss passed away. They were saddened and started reciting "Green Eggs and Ham" passages. Cut to the next period, a lower-level class of the same age. Their response was "Who was that?" If there are no interesting books for youngsters to read or be read to at home, reading does end up as just a chore to be done at school to them. Trying to convince them at high school age that reading can be fun is extremely difficult when the only things they've had to read have been textbooks (which are disappearing fast in public schools).
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Old 01-14-2020, 03:38 PM
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but secretly feels envious?
I'm going to say no to this.
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Old 01-14-2020, 03:59 PM
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I rarely ever read books for pleasure even though I do enjoy reading when I get into a good book. However, I always gravitate to things more engaging and stimulating to me personally. I simply choose those things over reading with the spare time that I can actually get. Even when I want to do something more relaxing there are things that do that better for me than reading so I do those instead. So while I don't equate reading as a chore or like studying, I might treat it that that way if I had to stop doing something I would rather be doing in order to do it.

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Old 01-14-2020, 04:07 PM
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This is a new one.

I've encountered non-readers who view reading as an assigned chore. If no one tells you you have to do it, then don't. The idea of reading for pleasure is completely lost on them. Yeah, many of these were my students.
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Old 01-14-2020, 04:22 PM
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Am I unusual in that I “study” for pleasure? The subject has to interest me, of course, but it’s one of my favorite hobbies. I’ll read multiple books exploring the subject from different perspectives ( usually 6-12 books per subject ) and I’ll also search for shorter articles to fill in gaps or answer questions that come up. Then sometimes I’ll write a paper or two exploring different angles of the subject - no one sees these but me usually, but it's a good way for me to organize my thoughts. And if the subject ever comes up on the SDMB, I may pull up excerpts and work them into my posts.

If the subject is interesting, I love to to study.
Ann Hedonia, if I may ask. Do you ever read fiction? Do you ever dive into a trashy romance novel, mystery, or fantasy? If you read 52 books in a year but none of them "taught" you anything new, would you consider that year wasted?

Last edited by Kent Clark; 01-14-2020 at 04:23 PM.
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Old 01-14-2020, 04:26 PM
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I'm reminded of the Bill Hicks routine about the Waffle House waitress who asked him, "What you readin' for?"
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Old 01-14-2020, 04:34 PM
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I think it's a combination of trouble with the actual mechanics of reading for most people- reading and comprehending is literally work for them, and as such, whatever pleasure they may wring from a book is outweighed by the pain of actually reading and comprehending it. If reading individual words and sentences takes concentration, how tough must it be to do that AND keep the plot and characters front and center while you do so. I can totally see how someone who isn't a strong reader (i.e. the mechanical act of reading isn't near effortless), wouldn't derive a lot of pleasure out of reading for its own sake.

I think also that this may have been different in pre-mass media days. In say... 1890, reading was IT, outside of real-world experiences. I'm sure feeble readers still read for pleasure back then, because in some ways, it was the only game in town. But in today's world, a feeble reader can easily watch TV or movies, play video games or even do stuff like audio-books, if they don't want to actually read. So the necessity of reading for pleasure is definitely diminished versus pre-mass media days. But our perception is still shaped somewhat by the ideas of that era- being "well-read" is a term that implies reading, but in this day and age, could be accomplished via web and/or TV I suspect.
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Old 01-14-2020, 05:14 PM
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I think he's not very typical if he thinks all reading is studying.
Maybe; maybe not. We have a lot of friends who are maybe a book at most every couple of years. Almost all of them view reading as some level of work or effort. And while some will admit that novels/fiction can be "fun" most look at my choices (things like the complete papers of General Bouquet or the collected news articles of American newspapers for 1755) as serious tedious work. It doesn't bother me; different strokes and all that. But its something you can't explain to them.
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Old 01-14-2020, 06:42 PM
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Maybe; maybe not. We have a lot of friends who are maybe a book at most every couple of years. Almost all of them view reading as some level of work or effort. And while some will admit that novels/fiction can be "fun" most look at my choices (things like the complete papers of General Bouquet or the collected news articles of American newspapers for 1755) as serious tedious work. It doesn't bother me; different strokes and all that. But its something you can't explain to them.
I've read thousands of books in my life, and the amount I read has only dropped off because I've developed other time-consuming hobbies. That said, the stuff you read sounds awful. There's a difference between considering all reading to be like homework (as is indicated by questions about how you can remember it all) and simply having different enough tastes so that your boring history stuff sounds boring.
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Old 01-14-2020, 07:39 PM
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I've read thousands of books in my life, and the amount I read has only dropped off because I've developed other time-consuming hobbies. That said, the stuff you read sounds awful.
This reply is sincere and not a snark -- thanks! The less people going after my "want list" the cheaper and faster I may fill it in. . My problem is that my main interest/hobby is colonial history say 1610-1800. Yeah, I read all the latest "popular history" books and all but to get a feel for myself I also read a crapload of primary source material. And most of it is much better reading than it sounds; much like reading a diary or a collection of someone's letters. Which, in the end, is what a lot of it is. And the rest is basically newspapers/bound volumes and the like. To me the current news is awful; especially the last 4 years. But the news of 1758 just fascinating.

Now the Old Wench; she is more fiction. But you would be surprised how many times I've caught her with one of "my" books - especially the extracts from newspapers. A lot of it does read almost like fiction with our world being so different from what they knew.
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Old 01-14-2020, 07:42 PM
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This reply is sincere and not a snark -- thanks! The less people going after my "want list" the cheaper and faster I may fill it in. . My problem is that my main interest/hobby is colonial history say 1610-1800. Yeah, I read all the latest "popular history" books and all but to get a feel for myself I also read a crapload of primary source material. And most of it is much better reading than it sounds; much like reading a diary or a collection of someone's letters. Which, in the end, is what a lot of it is. And the rest is basically newspapers/bound volumes and the like. To me the current news is awful; especially the last 4 years. But the news of 1758 just fascinating.

Now the Old Wench; she is more fiction. But you would be surprised how many times I've caught her with one of "my" books - especially the extracts from newspapers. A lot of it does read almost like fiction with our world being so different from what they knew.
I fully support everybody being able to have their own hobbies, the more bizarre the better. Just, keep that stuff away from me!!

I'm a pure fiction guy, myself. To each their own, and to me mine.
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Old 01-14-2020, 08:58 PM
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I used to teach high school science. When Ted Geisel died, I told my advanced class that Dr. Seuss passed away. They were saddened and started reciting "Green Eggs and Ham" passages. Cut to the next period, a lower-level class of the same age. Their response was "Who was that?" If there are no interesting books for youngsters to read or be read to at home, reading does end up as just a chore to be done at school to them. Trying to convince them at high school age that reading can be fun is extremely difficult when the only things they've had to read have been textbooks (which are disappearing fast in public schools).
I wonder about their early reading life. Educational attainment is correlated to the number of books in your home as you grew up. Cite. Worked for my kids. Worked for me and my wife, who both grew up with lots of books. Works from my grandson who is 3 1/2 and goes to sleep with books in his bed.
Starting at high school is probably too late.
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Old 01-14-2020, 09:01 PM
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This reply is sincere and not a snark -- thanks! The less people going after my "want list" the cheaper and faster I may fill it in. . My problem is that my main interest/hobby is colonial history say 1610-1800. Yeah, I read all the latest "popular history" books and all but to get a feel for myself I also read a crapload of primary source material. And most of it is much better reading than it sounds; much like reading a diary or a collection of someone's letters. Which, in the end, is what a lot of it is. And the rest is basically newspapers/bound volumes and the like. To me the current news is awful; especially the last 4 years. But the news of 1758 just fascinating.

Now the Old Wench; she is more fiction. But you would be surprised how many times I've caught her with one of "my" books - especially the extracts from newspapers. A lot of it does read almost like fiction with our world being so different from what they knew.
OT - sounds fascinating. My daughter teaches marketing, and for Christmas I got her marketing books from 1920 - 1937. Have you looked on Biblio.com. They have tons of interesting old books for reasonable prices. Maybe not as old as you are looking for, but you can never tell.
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Old 01-14-2020, 09:03 PM
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Am I unusual in that I ďstudyĒ for pleasure? The subject has to interest me, of course, but itís one of my favorite hobbies. Iíll read multiple books exploring the subject from different perspectives ( usually 6-12 books per subject ) and Iíll also search for shorter articles to fill in gaps or answer questions that come up. Then sometimes Iíll write a paper or two exploring different angles of the subject - no one sees these but me usually, but it's a good way for me to organize my thoughts. And if the subject ever comes up on the SDMB, I may pull up excerpts and work them into my posts.

If the subject is interesting, I love to to study.
I do the same thing, and I don't consider it studying because no one is testing me on it. Not that I minded studying when I was in school. I'm not as ambitious as you, I don't write papers.
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Old 01-14-2020, 09:23 PM
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I wonder about their early reading life. Educational attainment is correlated to the number of books in your home as you grew up. Cite. Worked for my kids. Worked for me and my wife, who both grew up with lots of books. Works from my grandson who is 3 1/2 and goes to sleep with books in his bed.
Starting at high school is probably too late.
Yep. I also did some polling and it seemed to confirm the problem is worse for boys, as the leisure reading materials available in schools K-8 are extremely biased towards girls' tastes (almost certainly due to the teachers being almost all women!).
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Old 01-14-2020, 09:40 PM
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Ann Hedonia, if I may ask. Do you ever read fiction? Do you ever dive into a trashy romance novel, mystery, or fantasy? If you read 52 books in a year but none of them "taught" you anything new, would you consider that year wasted?
I love reading fiction and I find time to read a lot of it. I like all sorts of fiction, trashy and otherwise and I certainly donít feel itís a waste of time. Iíve actually had people tell me that Iím wasting my time if Iím reading something light, like a Jackie Collins novel and I tell them that itís pleasure reading, like watching a trashy movie,

And there is actually a lot of factual information imparted inside of some fictional novels and Iíve learned a lot if stuff that way. Sometimes something I read inside a novel will send me off on a research/study tangent.

Iíve always read a lot, especially since I recently retired. Itís always come easy to me. And I do go through moods, sometimes I canít concentrate on fiction and end up putting it down to study up on the Opioid Crisis or North Korea. And sometimes I donít want to do anything more than chill with the latest Steven King or Tim Dorsey novel.
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Old 01-14-2020, 11:33 PM
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This is a new one.
Not really. Cite: For instance, Waverley by Sir Walter Scott (1814):
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Sir Everard had never been himself a student, and, like his sister Miss Rachel Waverley, he held the common doctrine, that idleness is incompatible with reading of any kind, and that the mere tracing the alphabetical characters with the eye is in itself a useful and meritorious task, without scrupulously considering what ideas or doctrines they may happen to convey. With a desire of amusement, therefore, which better discipline might soon have converted into a thirst for knowledge, young Waverley drove through the sea of books, like a vessel without a pilot or a rudder.
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Old 01-14-2020, 11:42 PM
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I also did some polling and it seemed to confirm the problem is worse for boys, as the leisure reading materials available in schools K-8 are extremely biased towards girls' tastes (almost certainly due to the teachers being almost all women!).
This seems highly exaggerated (except for the part about elementary school teachers being all women, which is definitely true in the US). Yes, girls tend to read a lot more than boys do, but there are a lot of reasons for that, and a tendency to "overrepresent" "girly" subjects in school reading materials is only one of them.

(There's also the problem that boys are socially conditioned to reject anything "girly" as inferior and unsuitable, and resist taking interest in or identifying with female characters, whereas girls are conditioned to accept "boyish" things as the norm and learn to identify with male characters.)
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Old 01-15-2020, 01:45 AM
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So, I was texting with a high school friend of mine and telling him that I set a goal to read 52 books this year, but I hope Iíve blown through that by July 4.
I've done a huge amount of reading in my life, but this kind of goal seems to me to be wrongheaded. It implies that quantity is better than quality.

- If I read War and Peace, slowly and with enjoyment, does this count for less than reading three generic detective stories?

- If I read a complex non-fiction book about science or philosophy or history, does this have the same value as '10 ways to improve your management style'?

- If I get halfway through a book and decide it's bad and not worth reading, do I have to force myself to finish it in order to reach some artificial goal of number of books completed?

This is a distortion of the value of reading.
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Old 01-15-2020, 01:59 AM
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Not really. Cite: For instance, Waverley by Sir Walter Scott (1814):
Waverley is a seriously underrated novel today.
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Old 01-15-2020, 02:42 AM
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Some people have trouble keeping track of who all the players are. And oftentimes find themselves flipping backwards through the book to remind themselves who "John" is and how he relates to the story.
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Old 01-15-2020, 03:48 AM
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My sister's first husband was an engineer, and a damned smart one. I was gobsmacked when I walked into their home and discovered they did not have a single book that wasn't related to engineering. He thought in terms of numbers, not words.
My late husband was like that - he was an engineer and he did not read for pleasure (he did have an extensive collection of videos, though). Nothing wrong with his reading, he read just fine at a high level, he just didn't enjoy it. I figured out that for him "reading for pleasure" was like me "doing math for pleasure" and stopped worrying about it. Other people, though, seemed aghast that such an intelligent man didn't like reading.
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Old 01-15-2020, 04:02 AM
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Some people have trouble keeping track of who all the players are. And oftentimes find themselves flipping backwards through the book to remind themselves who "John" is and how he relates to the story.
I'm not sure if you are talking about Waverley here. If so, the problem for modern readers is not the number of characters (there are actually very few), but the historical background.

Waverley was a bestseller in its time, and highly regarded throughout the 19th century. But it's almost unread today because Scott assumes that the reader has a certain amount of familiarity with the time in which it is set, 1745. In the 19th century, his assumption was correct and no explanations were needed, but today very few people know anything about the history of that time.

Scott refers without any explanation whatever to the Duke of Cumberland, the Chevalier St. George, Prince Frederick, the Covenanters, the Penal Laws, Jacobites, Whigs, the 1715 uprising, Prince Charles Edward's grandfather, etc. He takes it for granted that the reader knows what he is talking about. He assumes the reader will know which political party the Duke of Argyll belonged to.

He doesn't think it's necessary to explain why Edward Waverley, a Hanoverian officer, is highly disconcerted by a toast at dinner celebrating the death of King William, so that he wonders if he is obliged to stand up and demand an apology. And so forth throughout the book.

All this makes it difficult for a modern reader to follow what's happening in the novel without a good introduction giving the history of the period, and many footnotes.
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Old 01-15-2020, 06:21 AM
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I read during all of my breaks on the job. An electrician I was working with during a building remodel told me one lunch break that he thought reading was a waste of time. Later, he was complaining that he was having difficulty passing the written portion of his jpourneyman licensing test.
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Old 01-15-2020, 07:03 AM
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I figured out that for him "reading for pleasure" was like me "doing math for pleasure" and stopped worrying about it. Other people, though, seemed aghast that such an intelligent man didn't like reading.
One of my college roommates did math for pleasure. And we were all hippie arts major types, in BFA (Bachelor of Fine Arts) programs that didn’t even have a math requirement. She would grab all these advanced calculus courses as her electives - instead of the bogus classes like Rocks for Jocks (geology) or Modern Courtship ( where you basically got college credit for talking about what (or who) you did over the weekend) that the rest of us chose as electives because she loved math.

Modern Courtship. I can’t believe my parents paid money for some of these classes.

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I read during all of my breaks on the job. An electrician I was working with during a building remodel told me one lunch break that he thought reading was a waste of time. Later, he was complaining that he was having difficulty passing the written portion of his jpourneyman licensing test.
I used to work in construction, setting up home automation products. One quirk of the job was that you frequently had to upload large files to your systems. The uploads were usually 10-15 minutes but they could sometimes take two or three times as long, depending on the product and the size of the job. And since the system and your computer was locked up during the transfers, you could do absolutely nothing else while this was happening. And some days you had a lot of uploads.

So I would pull out my book or, in later years, my Kindle, and read. Everyone else on the construction site would be busily painting and installing cabinets and generally running around crazy, and I’d be sitting in a corner reading. For long stretches of time. Then I’d get up, go push a few buttons to test my programming, make some adjustments, hit the upload button, and settle back in with my book. Those days were my favorite part of my job, everyone was so jealous.

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Old 01-15-2020, 08:44 AM
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I think it's a combination of trouble with the actual mechanics of reading for most people- reading and comprehending is literally work for them, and as such, whatever pleasure they may wring from a book is outweighed by the pain of actually reading and comprehending it. If reading individual words and sentences takes concentration, how tough must it be to do that AND keep the plot and characters front and center while you do so. I can totally see how someone who isn't a strong reader (i.e. the mechanical act of reading isn't near effortless), wouldn't derive a lot of pleasure out of reading for its own sake.
I suspect you're right: there's a lot of truth to this. But, when you say "the mechanical act of reading" I think of the skill of translating words on a page or screen into words in one's headóthe kind of thing you don't have to do if you're listening to an audio version of a book. But that's only one of the possible barriers to experiencing and appreciating reading.

I've learned from threads here at the SDMB that some people get visual images of the scenes described in a work of fiction when they read; others don't. Some readers "hear" the words in their head as they read; others don't. Some people may have other issues with certain types of writing, like keeping track of a large cast of characters and their relationships with one another, or grasping the vocabulary and writing style of an eighteenth-century novel.

Those are some reasons why some people may get more out of reading (certain kinds of things, at least) than others do.
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Old 01-15-2020, 09:49 AM
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I suspect you're right: there's a lot of truth to this. But, when you say "the mechanical act of reading" I think of the skill of translating words on a page or screen into words in one's headóthe kind of thing you don't have to do if you're listening to an audio version of a book. But that's only one of the possible barriers to experiencing and appreciating reading.

I've learned from threads here at the SDMB that some people get visual images of the scenes described in a work of fiction when they read; others don't. Some readers "hear" the words in their head as they read; others don't. Some people may have other issues with certain types of writing, like keeping track of a large cast of characters and their relationships with one another, or grasping the vocabulary and writing style of an eighteenth-century novel.

Those are some reasons why some people may get more out of reading (certain kinds of things, at least) than others do.
I wonder if there's also a cultural bias against it in some socioeconomic groups? I mean, in my mostly grad-school educated world, NOT being a reader is considered way stranger than being a particularly avid or voracious one. But I suspect that's far different in less educated and more working class groups.
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Old 01-15-2020, 09:57 AM
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I've learned from threads here at the SDMB that some people get visual images of the scenes described in a work of fiction when they read; others don't.
Someone mentioned a curved balustrade the other day, and I flashed back to a memory of a house I'd been in. But I couldn't remember whose it was. I could remember the living room and the kitchen, and I did a mental walk-through. But who had lived there?

After days of wondering, I realized it was from a book I'd read years before. Apparently, I make "visual images of the scenes described in a work of fiction"... unsettlingly detailed ones.


I've taught older adults to read, and back when I went through training they warned us: "Your students will never get lost in a book they way a lifetime reader can."

Saddest thing I've ever heard.

One old guy just wanted to be able to get to where he could read a recipe. He was beaming the day he brought us all homemade brownies.
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Old 01-15-2020, 10:27 AM
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I'm not sure if you are talking about Waverley here. If so, the problem for modern readers is not the number of characters (there are actually very few), but the historical background.
I wasn't talking about any book in particular.

I was more or less saying people who have lousy short term memory retention have problems remembering everything.

ST memory retention isn't a problem when you're watching a 2hr movie. But trying to remember some obscure but relevant thing you read two or thee chapters ago can have you slipping backwards through the book.

I have this problem and it's so frustrating!
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Old 01-15-2020, 10:46 AM
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I wonder if there's also a cultural bias against it in some socioeconomic groups? I mean, in my mostly grad-school educated world, NOT being a reader is considered way stranger than being a particularly avid or voracious one. But I suspect that's far different in less educated and more working class groups.
Yes, I believe there is. In the rural working class community of my youth (in the sixties), it was far from unusual to find people who were puzzled by those who liked to read or who wanted to pursue higher education in general. It's an attitude that's mostly disappeared but not entirely so.
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Old 01-15-2020, 01:14 PM
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Can I say that I'm just amazed... to the point of incomprehension, how grown adults can barely read well enough to read a recipe? Or that they can read well enough to read a recipe, but that a lot of newspaper articles might be above them?

I mean to me, reading is one of those things like eating, breathing and walking, that I just DO without thinking about it.
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Old 01-15-2020, 02:12 PM
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So, is this something common among those who never res for pleasure? Or is he just making excuses because heíd rather play video games but secretly feels envious?
I've heard it said that some people do not like to cook, and in fact will order out six times a week, and feast upon breakfast cereal and/or peanut butter & jelly sandwiches on the seventh. Their kitchen cabinets and appliances are repurposed for general household storage. As someone who finds a great deal of joy in cooking, would I be right to suspect their disdain of the practice is really a mask for their shameful preference of other baser activities? Seems easier to just accept some people don't get it when it comes to cooking, and so they do other stuff that works for them.
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Old 01-15-2020, 02:42 PM
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I think it's a combination of trouble with the actual mechanics of reading for most people- reading and comprehending is literally work for them, and as such, whatever pleasure they may wring from a book is outweighed by the pain of actually reading and comprehending it. If reading individual words and sentences takes concentration, how tough must it be to do that AND keep the plot and characters front and center while you do so. I can totally see how someone who isn't a strong reader (i.e. the mechanical act of reading isn't near effortless), wouldn't derive a lot of pleasure out of reading for its own sake.
That's me. I usually say "I can't read" but that makes me sound illiterate. My problem is that my ADD kicks in and I read really, really slow. Also, I don't mean like 'haha, I have add...hey, there's something shiny", what I mean is I can read 5 or 10 pages from a book and I, literally, couldn't tell you anything about it. Not the names, not what happened, hell, it could've been a college text book. My eyes scan the page, I'm 'reading' the words on it, but after I get more than a sentence in I'm day dreaming while still going through the motions.
It made any reading intensive school courses (be it history or lit or anything else that involved the teacher saying 'read pages xx-xxx tonight'), a real nightmare, since everything I read had to be read multiple times. It's annoying reading 10 pages and then having to do it again because you have no idea what you read.

Reading in school was such a chore for me that I really never got into it. Every couple of years I'll read a few books but they have to hold my attention really well (ie Gone Girl) and they still take me forever. I tend to read about 10-15 pages a night. A book typically takes me about a month to read.

To all the people that suggest that reading is no 'harder' than watching TV, I don't know what to tell you. For me, personally, reading is work while TV just gets absorbed. It may also help that if I'm watching TV, I'm usually playing with my laptop or phone as well. Odd as it sounds, the distraction of the device actually helps me focus more*.


Lastly, any questions people have about this type of thing, I can give my experience, I can't explain the reasoning.


*Back in college when of my profs called me out (privately) about me doing calc homework during his lectures (and I sat in the front row). I explained to him that if I'm doing math homework I'm still listening to him and anytime he's asking the class a question, he's welcome to direct it at me if I don't already have my hand up. However, I also told him, if he sees me just watching him, my eyes following him as he paces back and forth while talking, I'm likely not listening, I'm off in my own world.
He was fine with that, I did well in both of his classes.
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Old 01-15-2020, 03:25 PM
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I've done a huge amount of reading in my life, but this kind of goal seems to me to be wrongheaded. It implies that quantity is better than quality.

- If I read War and Peace, slowly and with enjoyment, does this count for less than reading three generic detective stories?

- If I read a complex non-fiction book about science or philosophy or history, does this have the same value as '10 ways to improve your management style'?

- If I get halfway through a book and decide it's bad and not worth reading, do I have to force myself to finish it in order to reach some artificial goal of number of books completed?

This is a distortion of the value of reading.
What's wrong with setting a personal goal? If you don't like number of books, you can use pages instead. Chance are the goal is not going to force someone to read small books instead of fat books, but rather to read rather than watch TV.
I started counting last year - I read 76. No goal, I was just interested in how many I read. That ranges from a 1200 page Pauline Kael omnibus to the Hamilton biography down to sf magazines.
If someone is forcing a person to read a certain (large) number of books maybe a problem. Having a goal of reading lots of books isn't. I didn't read any more because I was measuring, and didn't change the stuff I read.
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Old 01-15-2020, 04:04 PM
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OT - sounds fascinating. My daughter teaches marketing, and for Christmas I got her marketing books from 1920 - 1937. Have you looked on Biblio.com. They have tons of interesting old books for reasonable prices. Maybe not as old as you are looking for, but you can never tell.
Them and Abe have my credit card memorized; and I've gotten some very surprising scores through Half-Price Books. But with a lot being online now I am not going as deep pockets as I used to for things like volumes from the Jesuit Papers and the like. But sometimes when I have the cash and something is there ------- I still really really prefer the feel of a real book in my hands.
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Old 01-15-2020, 05:30 PM
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Can I say that I'm just amazed... to the point of incomprehension, how grown adults can barely read well enough to read a recipe? Or that they can read well enough to read a recipe, but that a lot of newspaper articles might be above them?

I mean to me, reading is one of those things like eating, breathing and walking, that I just DO without thinking about it.
People who do things well are often surprised that not everyone can do them equally well. Can you throw a baseball 90 mph, run a marathon, or eyeball where to mark a 2x4 for the perfect cut?

And if you went through twelve years of school having to throw a baseball, but never could throw it 90 mph, would you even want to play baseball for fun?
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Old 01-15-2020, 06:02 PM
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Ann Hedonia, you had me up until this -
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Then sometimes Iíll write a paper or two exploring different angles of the subject - no one sees these but me usually, but it's a good way for me to organize my thoughts.
reading to delve deeper into a subject - great. But I hated writing papers in school and have not gone back to it since.
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Old 01-15-2020, 06:19 PM
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(There's also the problem that boys are socially conditioned to reject anything "girly" as inferior and unsuitable, and resist taking interest in or identifying with female characters, whereas girls are conditioned to accept "boyish" things as the norm and learn to identify with male characters.)
Heh, I'm a male who's decided that male characters tend to be completely shallow and driven mostly by posturing and testosterone, while female characters are allowed to run the gamut of emotions from shallow and showy and angry to deep and quiet and sympathetic. I'd much rather read a female character than a male one.
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Old 01-16-2020, 02:51 PM
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People who do things well are often surprised that not everyone can do them equally well. Can you throw a baseball 90 mph, run a marathon, or eyeball where to mark a 2x4 for the perfect cut?

And if you went through twelve years of school having to throw a baseball, but never could throw it 90 mph, would you even want to play baseball for fun?
I guess where I stumble in understanding is that we DO read every day all the time- street signs, packaging on goods, magazines in the checkout aisle, stuff in the mail, etc... I would expect that people would eventually just get better at it through repetition, assuming you know how to do it at all.

I mean, I'm not a particularly good baseball player myself, but if I had to throw balls every single day to accomplish things, I'd get a LOT better at it than I currently am through sheer repetition, just like anything else.
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Old 01-16-2020, 03:15 PM
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I guess where I stumble in understanding is that we DO read every day all the time- street signs, packaging on goods, magazines in the checkout aisle, stuff in the mail, etc... I would expect that people would eventually just get better at it through repetition, assuming you know how to do it at all.

I mean, I'm not a particularly good baseball player myself, but if I had to throw balls every single day to accomplish things, I'd get a LOT better at it than I currently am through sheer repetition, just like anything else.
I don't know if sheer repetition means someone is going to get better; I have seen people practice hobbies for years and they never seem to get any better at it. Some people just lack any sort of skill or talent no matter how hard they try.
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Old 01-16-2020, 05:38 PM
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I guess where I stumble in understanding is that we DO read every day all the time- street signs, packaging on goods, magazines in the checkout aisle, stuff in the mail, etc... I would expect that people would eventually just get better at it through repetition, assuming you know how to do it at all.

I mean, I'm not a particularly good baseball player myself, but if I had to throw balls every single day to accomplish things, I'd get a LOT better at it than I currently am through sheer repetition, just like anything else.
But that's demonstrably not true. Ever hear of the Mendoza Line? Mario Mendoza spent four years in the minor leagues honing his craft, then spent three seasons splitting his time between major and minor league teams, then spent seven full seasons in the major leagues. He had more than 3,100 official at bats as a professional baseball player, finishing his career with a batting average of .215. Dal Maxvill spent 14 seasons in the majors, played in FIVE World Series, and ended up with a .217 lifetime batting average.

How much batting practice must those men have taken throughout high school, the minors, and the majors, and still ended up with such mediocre career stats. How many hours must they have spent with professional hitting coaches with no improvement.

No matter how hard they try, some people can't hit a curve ball. Or hit all the notes in the Star Spangled Banner. Or make it all the through War and Peace.
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Old 01-16-2020, 06:15 PM
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I guess where I stumble in understanding is that we DO read every day all the time- street signs, packaging on goods, magazines in the checkout aisle, stuff in the mail, etc... I would expect that people would eventually just get better at it through repetition, assuming you know how to do it at all.
See what Grrr! and Joey P said above. With some people, the issue isn't difficulty reading individual words or phrases, but keeping track of something longer. The skills involved in reading a novel, or even a long story or article, are more than those involved in reading a street sign or a cereal box.

The part I wonder about is: If people like that made the effort to read more books, would they get better at it with practice?

If they had read more when they were young and their brains were still developing, would they be better at it now?

Or is it purely a difference in in-born native ability?
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Old 01-16-2020, 06:36 PM
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Ann Hedonia, you had me up until this -
reading to delve deeper into a subject - great. But I hated writing papers in school and have not gone back to it since.
I donít always write and certainly I donít write like Iím going to be graded.

But sometimes when Iím trying to piece together a narrative from multiple sources, it helps me to put stuff in writing. Itís not a chore and if it starts to feel like one, I stop.
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