Why Books And Libraries Can Be Terrifying Places

Every time I walk into my local library to pick up some recycling bags, I feel like I’m entering a world that doesn’t want me there. Or is it that I don’t want to be there?

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For me, libraries can be terrifying places. Just like picking up a book and opening it can be a terrifying prospect. As an author and writer, you’d think that both would be something I’d get a lot of pleasure from.

Why I’m terrified of libraries and books?

Dyslexia – that’s the answer. As somebody who is dyslexic, reading and writing are two things I have always found difficult. When I enter the library and am faced with all those books that can introduce me to new characters and transport me to different worlds, I feel like a big door is being slammed shut right in front of me. Why? Because I know that I would find it difficult reading many of the books on the shelves.

How does being dyslexic affect me?

Being dyslexic affects me in many different ways. For example, I often find myself struggling to know what a word or its meaning is. Even when I try saying the sounds the letters make as they appear in a word, it doesn’t always come to me. Struggling on a word in the middle of a sentence can literally stop me on my reading track and, sometimes, make me feel a failure. It’s as if the word is some sort of barrier preventing me from carrying on reading.

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Occasionally, when I pick up a book, I find myself coming across too many words that I don’t understand. They can be the simplest of words, yet my brain can not work out what the word actually is.

If I have to go back to the beginning of a page or chapter because I don’t understand the plot or what’s going on, I will almost certainly give up on the book. I may have another go, but more often than not I will never pick up that book again.

It’s not only about reading

When it comes to writing, one of the strangest things dyslexia does to me is not putting certain letters in the correct order. I seem to struggle if a word has both an ‘A’ and ‘C’ in it. For example, I can write the word ‘because’ in a blog post lots of times, yet Grammarly will underline every ‘because’ I’ve written because I’ve incorrectly spelt it. It’s always the ‘A’ and ‘C’ in the wrong order. I have trouble with other words where ‘A’ and ‘C’ follow each other too.

Not all is lost

I’m pleased to say that I don’t have problems reading all the books on my ‘TBR’ pile. I seem to go through peaks and dips with them. Recently, after reading a book review by author and blogger Teri Polen, I read ‘Call Drops‘ by John F. Leonard.

Not only did I get pulled into the story quickly, but I also whizzed through it in two sittings. Maybe it was the way the book had been written, but I didn’t struggle with any of it. It was the first book I’d read from start to finish in a while. Of course, I also left reviews on Goodreads and Amazon for it.

Am I reading another book?

You bet. I’m currently reading, and enjoying, The Jack Lockwood Diaries by Geoffrey David West.

A library was the setting for a piece of flash fiction from my first collection of short stories, Glimpses. Set in the future, it’s a story about a teacher who takes her pupils to a library where she reveals the truth behind the disappearance of trees.

Story #28: The Library – by Hugh W. Roberts


“And this is the library.”
The students stood open-mouthed.
“So, these are books?”
“Yes, these are books, Trudy.”
“How many are there, Mrs Millar?” inquired Tommy.
“Nobody has ever counted, but we think several million,” replied the teacher as she nodded slowly. “And paper is what every one of these books has in common.”
“So, this is the main reason why all the trees disappeared from Planet Earth?” asked Trudy.
Mrs Millar continued to nod her head while admiring the books.
“Yes, and each and every one of the authors that was alive when the last of the trees disappeared, was put to death for the crime they committed,” smiled the teacher.

Click here to buy Glimpses.

Happy endings

I allowed dyslexia to suppress my love of writing for far too long. In February 2014, when I published my first blog post, I felt like I had conquered it. Maybe I can do the same with reading books and visiting my local library?

I’ve often heard it said that people with dyslexia have unique imaginations. I’m not sure if that’s true, but it’s been a happy ending for me.

©hughsviewsandnews.com

Now it’s over to you

Are you dyslexic? How do you manage with your reading and writing? What book are you reading at the moment? Tell me about them by leaving me a comment.

This post is my entry to the Sunday Stills challenge, hosted by Terri Webster Schrandt. This week’s theme is ‘For the Love of Reading and Books.’ Click here for full details.

Copyright © 2019 hughsviewsandnews.com – All rights reserved.

Author: Hugh W. Roberts

My name is Hugh. I live in the city of Swansea, South Wales, in the United Kingdom. My blog covers a wide range of subjects, the most popular of which are my blogging tips posts. If you have any questions about blogging or anything else, please contact me by clicking on the 'Contact Hugh' button on the menu bar. Click on the 'Meet Hugh' button on the menu bar to learn more about me and my blog.

93 thoughts

  1. Hi Hugh, I’m new to your blog and you’ve opened up a new perspective on the love of reading. If you continue to read – and write – even though it’s a struggle for you, I’d say you’re a supreme lover of the written word. Me too.

  2. Have you tried audio books, Hugh? Libraries offer those, too, as well as media, computer use, author visits, workshops, career and educational resources. I’m a writer and reading specialist. I’ve successfully helped children and adults with dyslexia using multi-sensory, systematic, researched based programs such as Wilson Reading System. I’ve also found that those with dyslexia have strengths in other areas such as imagination, creativity, problem-solving.

    1. Yes, I have tried audiobooks. The problem I have with them is that I’m not able to sit back, close my eyes and just listen. I have to be doing something that is not going to break my concentration on listening to an audiobook; otherwise, I start losing the plot of what is going on in the book I’m listening to. Thanks for your recommendation, though.

  3. I never considered how hard places like libraries would be for dyslexic people. I’ve always found solitude and comfort in libraries and I figured it was the same for most people.

  4. Dear Hugh, in reading this lovely, personal post I couldn’t help thinking the way you feel is akin to how agoraphobia makes me feel. I think I’m finally in a place where I can begin to heal… but I have such a very long path ahead. I’ve been going outside (something I wouldn’t do in DC for more than taking the trash to the curb, and some days I couldn’t even do that), to pull up the advancing army of big weeds. (Here weeds are the size of shrubs.) But now I’ve been having a bad allergic reaction to them. I look like the creature from the black lagoon. So that does not help the existing challenge. It makes my stomach feel odd when I think of going to the door. So yes, I can understand how the library must make you feel.
    Thanks for this book recommendation. Hugs on the wing.

    1. I can’t imagine what it must be like for you having agoraphobia, Teagan. Going to the library doesn’t send me into any panic, but I do feel as if the place doesn’t want me there when I step through the doors. It’s almost as if all those books have eyes, and they’re all directed at me. That’s why I enjoy reading your weekly episodes of friction. And thanks heavens I can also read books online, although I do struggle with many of them.

      I do hope you are settling in at your new place. This time of the year can be particularly hard for those who have any reaction to pollen from plants and flowers. Although my partner is a keen gardener, he does get hay fever but takes some medication to get him through the pollen season. As a child, I suffered with it but seemed to have grown out of it now.

      Take good care of yourself. I only wish we were neighbours.

      Hugs to you.

  5. This was such a refreshing blog post to read on your dyslexia. Had no idea it impacted you going to the library. As a long time follower of your blog, it’s nice to see that you have come so far with blogging and publishing two books. Maybe one day you will be able to walk through a library without feeling overwhelmed 🙂

    I don’t have dyslexia (or at least not to my knowledge). I do have a love-hate relationships with libraries. As a kid I loved going to libraries as that meant I could borrow around 20 books and take home with me to read – I was such an avid reader back then. Then as I grew older, libraries became a place for me where I studied and looked up research books at university – and it was a place where I could get free Wifi. At times I might feel a bit overwhelmed in the library – too many people around up until there are no empty chairs and tables to sit (libraries are popular places to study and pass the time reading in my area) and the narrow paths between shelves, and some corners can be darker than others.

    1. Thank you, Mabel.

      Yes, maybe one day I will be able to walk into a library without feeling that I do not belong there. As a child, I would visit the local library every Saturday morning, usually to pick up my next Enid Blyton book. I found her ‘Secret Seven’ books easy to read, yet had great difficulty reading her ‘Famous Five’ books. Back then, libraries were quiet places, nowhere near as busy as they now seem to be.

      And those ‘dark corners’ you speak about reminded me of an episode from ‘Doctor Who’ where rather frightening creatures occupied the shadows in a library. 😱

      1. Ah, Enid Blyton books. Those were one of my favourite books to read as a kid. Perhaps if we like the stories, we read them easier but I guess it depends on each individual. A good observation that libraries are much more busier these days – so many of us go there for free Wifi.

        Oh wow, hope those frightening creatures in Dr Who were’t too frightening 😱

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