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?
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. But I don’t.
Why Am I 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. And writing about dyslexia is even harder.
When I enter the library and face 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 to read 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.
It doesn’t always come to me even when I try saying the sounds the letters make as they appear in a word. Struggling with a word in the middle of a sentence can stop me on my reading journey and sometimes make me feel like a failure. It’s as if the word is some sort of barrier preventing me from continuing my reading journey.
Occasionally, when I pick up a book, I encounter too many words I don’t understand. They can be the simplest words, yet my brain can not determine them. I start asking myself what those words mean. Are they important? Why can’t I say them?
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 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 struggle if a word has an ‘A’ and ‘C’ in it. For example, I can often type ‘because’ in a blog post, yet Grammarly will underline every ‘because’ I’ve typed because they’re all incorrect.
The same thing happens when using pen and paper. My brain is rushing ahead of me, causing my hand to travel in different directions as it pushes the pen that produces awful handwriting, not even I can understand. What I write resembles the scribbles I drew as a young preschool child.
But not all is lost, is it?
I’m pleased to say that I don’t have problems reading all books. I seem to go through peaks and dips with them. I have to be in the mood to read books. They have to be written in a way that I can understand exactly what’s going on. No silly accents or too many characters whose names all begin with the same letter.
So, unfortunately, you won’t find many book reviews I’ve written, yet you’ll find many comments I’ve written on the many blogs I follow. And by comments, I don’t mean the types that don’t offer any value. If I leave a comment, it’ll be at least a couple of sentences long.
For me, comments are like leaving book reviews. If I leave a comment, it’s because the words on a post have connected with me, and I want to engage with the author.
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.
I’ve often heard it said that people with dyslexia have unique imaginations. I’m unsure if that’s true, but it’s been a happy ending. If it were not for blogging and the many bloggers who encouraged me to write, I’d never have self-published two short story collections.
Don’t allow me to stop you.
But even with my love for blogging, I still find books and libraries terrifying places.
It’s not just the fear of being judged for my reading speed or accuracy; it’s also the overwhelming amount of options available. With shelves upon shelves of books, where do I even begin? I had the same problem with blogging. I followed too many blogs, so I cut down on the number I was following. That helped.
For someone with dyslexia or any reading disability, picking up a book can be anxiety-inducing. The fear of being unable to understand the words and follow the plot makes it easy to understand why some people avoid books altogether.
And while libraries and bookshops may seem a haven for book lovers, it only adds to the pressure for some. Surrounded by so many books, it’s easy to feel like you should be reading them all, like you’re missing out on something if you don’t (just like all those blogs you follow).
How often do I hear or read that somebody is so far behind in reading blogs? They fear they could miss out if they don’t read them all.
The same happens with social media. How often do we see people with their heads down while looking at a screen? I’ve witnessed whole tables of people in restaurants, all with their heads down, looking at their phones while eating.
But the truth is, there is no “right” way to read. There is no “right” book to read. It’s okay to read at your own pace, take breaks when necessary, and stop reading a book or blog if it’s not connecting with you.
And remember! You don’t need to read just books to enjoy reading. I get far more enjoyment from reading blogs than I do books.
Books and libraries may be intimidating places for some, but there’s no denying the magic of losing yourself in a story. However, we can also lose ourselves watching a movie. It’s worth facing your anxieties and fears to experience that magic for yourself.
So, please, don’t be like me. Pick up a book, visit your local library, and don’t be afraid to take it one page at a time.
Who knows? You might find a new favourite author or even discover the joy of writing for yourself.
And don’t forget you can also do the same in the world of blogging. It’s a magical place full of content where you can quickly lose yourself.
Now it’s over to you.
Are you dyslexic? How do you manage your reading, writing and blogging? What books or blogs are you reading that help you conquer dyslexia? Tell me about them by leaving me a comment.
This post was originally published in April 2019 and has been updated for republishing.
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