Monday, March 4, 2013

Reader Woes with Astraea Press Author: J.F. Jenkins

Welcome author J.F. Jenkins 
today at the Book Boost!

**All month long at the Book Boost we're featuring my fellow Astraea Press authors. Come back each day for more and be entered to win a Digital Reader Prize Pack (see below for details)!**

I'm going to say something that will probably come off as blasphemous, but I never liked to read. Wow, it feels really good to get that off of my chest, let me tell you. As an author, I see people go on about their favorite classic literature novels and how they were always that quiet one in the library who read those novels that were a million pages long and got lost in the stories. That was not me. In fact, I avoided reading as if it were a plague, but that's because of: The Reading Chore, and The Reading Competition.

Maybe some of you readers can sympathize with me here. These two factors are key components to a lot of people not reading.

The Reading Chore is pretty simple enough to explain: we read the book only because we have to, not because we want to. This is one I struggled a lot with in school when I was getting handed copies of Romeo and Juliet (still hate this play), The Scarlet Letter (enjoyable but above my level), and The Great Gatsby (also enjoyable but it confused me). I attempted to read The Odyssey by Homer, but that one was so far above my head I just decided to watch the eight hour movie again.

I won't get into what I read in college because if it wasn't a text book, chances are I didn't read it. Even my English Literature class, I didn't read for it. I just couldn't handle the pages upon pages of poetry and prose that was so frustratingly above my level.

If you haven't guessed it yet, I am not a great reader. I'm slow. It takes me several times to understand the content on a page sometimes. Oh, and I usually have about five million other things I need to be doing. This kind of stuff has kept me from reading for a long time. Well, that and The Reading Competition.

While I wasn't the book worm, my friends were. They read those 1,000 page fantasy novels and books like Interview with a Vampire or Jurassic Park while I was still reading Sweet Valley High and Goosebumps or Animorphs. Needless to say, I always felt inadequate in comparison. Especially when they begged me to read the fantasy novels so I could write fanfic with them. I was able to read one in one sitting. A sitting that lasted for about ten hours and in turn caused me to pull an all-nighter. All because I was so desperate to fit in with my peers.

I know I'm not alone in this experience. There are others out there who had a hard time with reading for school because it was either out of their interests, not engaging, or simply above their reading level. There are people who have stopped reading because of dyslexia (something I have, but didn't know it until after I graduated college), and other disorders that hinder their reading comprehension. I know there are other people out there who feel like an idiot for not reading the latest “popular” book amongst their friends, so they force themselves to pick something up that they might not have on their own.

Sometimes, this is good. It takes us out of our comfort zones and introduces us to a new genre we may love. Sometimes, this is bad. It puts a lot of pressure on a reader. Pressure causes anxiety. Anxiety causes fear and displeasure. We do not seek out things we fear or that make us feel displeasure.

As a writer, I am a lover of creation, story, and words. My love for words died a little when I was a teenager because of The Reading Chore and The Reading Competition. I could have let those two things completely destroy me. Some how, I'm back to reading again. Books I love, books I hate, books that are out of my comfort zone even, but they are books that I'm choosing on my own and doing at my pace and am reading for me. Because just like they say an author should write for themselves, a reader should read for themselves too.

I guess my point is this: if you're reading this and thinking in any way “I've been through that too" don't feel ashamed or like you're a loser in the midst of the other book bloggers/writers/readers. It's okay if you aren't interested in the fad book, and it's okay if it takes you three weeks to finish a book that took someone else an hour. You are not inadequate. You are not dumb. You are not unworthy of running a blog/writing a book. You are fine just the way you are. And most importantly, don't let it stop you from reading.

A Note from the Book Boost:  Well said, J.F. and sage advice.  I can't imagine not being an avid reader so it is hard for me to relate but I know your message reached out to many.  Thanks for joining us today and tell us more about your latest creation!


Mila takes a hands off approach to dating. She's independent and picky and thinks she knows it all. When her best friend decides to set her up on a blind date with a guy who an-swers to the name of Jax, Mila decides to take a leap of faith. After all, with a name like Jax, how can he not be a dream boat?

Like most blind dates, however, Jax doesn't meet the expectations that Mila created in her imagination. With how badly she's struck out in her past relationships, is that really such a bad thing?


Somehow, I let my best friend Morgan convince me that a blind date, on Valentine's Day of all days, would be an amazing idea. “Don't be alone on the most romantic holiday of the year!” she said. “That's the most pathetic thing you could ever do to yourself!” No, the most pathetic thing is going on a date, just for the sake of going on a date, all because it's Valentine's Day. I had perfectly awesome plans made for my night alone at home: kung- fu movies and Chinese take- out. There were no plans to wallow bitterly either. Okay, maybe a little bit of wallowing. The point is, I didn't ask or need a blind date. Yet, Morgan was able to guilt me into going anyway. Then again, with a name as delicious as Jax, how could I go wrong?

So I put on my cute, tight, black pants with my matching corset top and long trench coat, and went to meet this guy at the swanky Brazilian barbeque restaurant downtown.

“Can I help you miss?” the hostess asked, looking up at me from her podium.

“I have a reservation. Should be under the name Jax?” Just saying his name gave me butterflies. It was so sexy. He had better have a tattoo… or five.

The hostess glanced over her list, nodded, and then picked up a menu to lead me to the table. I swallowed, following her, and immediately began to play with my dark hair. A nervous tic, and one I've always hated. It seems too obvious, you know what I mean? Plus, I didn't want to ruin my hair before I even got to meet my date. There was plenty of time to do that later. Wink, wink. I went around at least five corners before I got to my table. We were way in the back of the restaurant which made for a nice private atmosphere, sure, but the anticipation made knots churn in my stomach.

“Your table,” the hostess said.

The table was the farthest from the front and tucked away in the corner. The young man sitting at the table with his back to the wall had the menu up over his face. He lowered it slowly, giving me a peek at a rather beautiful set of blue eyes, accompanied with tousled, dark hair. The menu was set onto the table top and he stood, giving me a better view. I had pictured tall, muscular, and a little rough on the edges. Some scruffy facial hair or maybe a scar, and an outfit that was more bad-boy-sexy than business casual.

Jax on the other hand was average height, clean- shaven, and wore a long- sleeved, navy button- down and khaki pants. The guy had some muscle definition, because I noticed how the shirt clung to his chest in all of the right ways, and his biceps bulged ever so slightly under the fabric. He worked out, which was always a plus, but there was more gentle than tough in him. Something about him was vaguely familiar too, and I couldn't quite put my finger on it.

“M- Mila right?” he asked. He actually stammered. I wasn't quite sure what to think about that. In some ways it's sweet that he was nervous enough to stutter, but it was also a little bit of a turn off. Okay, not a little bit – a lot.

I nodded, hoping that his nerves would pass and he'd take a chill pill soon. “That's me, and you're Jax.”

“Y- yeah.”

I'm pretty sure my smile twitched a little when he said it.

“Nice to meet you.” Nice was not the kind of meeting I wanted to have.

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Wendy Jo said...

I've always loved to read, but I totally understand -- I love to read what I WANT, and I always felt guilty being bored out of my mind when I read classics!

Cloud Riser said...

Yes, I should clarify I do love to read what I WANT to read. But it is still easy to feel inadequate compared to my peers because I'm not reading "enough" books or finishing them fast enough, lol. I psych myself out I guess. For example, my husband reads "game of the Thrones" books in about three days. The same book will take me about 3 months. It's easy to let me talk myself into thinking I'm stupid for that.

E.A. West said...

I completely identify with your post! I have dyslexia and learning disabilities in language, so reading and writing can both be challenging. Yet I've always been a voracious reader of the books I want to read and I'm an author. I learned a while ago that I will never be able to say, "I read 15 novels a month and write 5,000 words a day." Who needs the impressive numbers? I do my best, and that's good enough for me, even if it is slower than others. :)

Cloud Riser said...

E.A. West, I am "liking" your comment. ;) I feel the same way. once I got over the "numbers"/competition aspect and feelign down on myself about it, things got a lot more awesome.

Stephanie Michels, author said...

Wow, very well said, J.F.

I have always been an avid reader (yeah, I'm one of those), but I've also always read the books I wanted to read. There are tons of bestseller or "pop" favorites that folks say: "Oh, you just have to read this" or "What do you mean you never read XXXX? (usually followed by a gasp). I usually just shrug and tell them the book just didn't interest me and there are so many others that do.

So hurrah to you for standing up and admitting your feelings. Good on!

Julie said...

I just finished your book Legend of the Oceina Dragon - I really enjoyed it. What a cliffhanger of an ending though! I hope we will see the next installment soon :)

Cloud Riser said...

Julie, all of the books are out and available. :) So you can pick up the next one and find out what happens next. ;)

jeff7salter said...

In school, I was terrible about reading those assigned texts. Oh, I managed to wade thru most of them ... but some got the Cliff Notes treatment. And a few got the 'abridged' version treatment.
One of them -- if I recall correctly -- I sloughed off by re-reading the Classics Illustrated COMIC BOOK.
So, yeah, I was a lousy reader in that regard. But if I was interested in the book or author, I read every word.
As I matured a bit, I was better also, though I never did finish Moby Dick in college. Ha.

SherryGLoag said...

Found your post fascinating. I hated reading the books for school, but spent a lot of time reading because of childhood illnesses and the books became my friends, so, school did nothing to induce me to read, but I still discovered it anyway :-)