Most of us, the majority, I would like to think, love to read. Reading is a way of life. However, even reading is shrouded among a number of astounding myths. There are many beliefs and a great deal of dogma associated with reading acquisition, and people are often reluctant to let go of their beliefs despite contradictory research evidence. Here are a few of the most popular and most potentially-pernicious myths about reading For Your Information.
MYTH: ‘You can’t learn anything from fiction.’
FACT: I hear this one all the time. It used to bother me. I’d get a little angry. But, now, I’ve grown so accustomed to hearing it that I usually just nod my head and think, Oh, bless your heart. If you think you can’t learn anything from fiction, then you’re reading the wrong fiction.
Sure, the novel can serve as an escape. But to say you can’t learn anything from 1984 or To Kill A Mockingbird or Harry Potter, or thousands of other novels, just isn’t true.
Jesus taught in parables — in other words, a story, a form of fiction — because it’s an effective teaching method. So, if Jesus thinks you can learn from a story, it’s safe to say that you can learn a lot from a novel.
MYTH: ‘I don’t have time to read.’
FACT: This statement will usually come from non-readers who are passive-aggressively judging you for spending so much time with your head in a book. Truth is, everyone has time to read. It’s just a matter of priorities. If you have time to play golf, then you have time to read.
If you have time to watch American Idol (does anyone even watch that anymore?), then you have time to read. You’ve just given that time to something else.
MYTH: ‘Reading isn’t an activity’
FACT: Of course it is. Sometimes, readers get labelled as lazy slackers who just sit around on their couch all day and read Star Wars fan fiction. (Not true — it’s actually Twilight on a rocking chair on the porch.)
In all seriousness, reading is as much an activity as taking a test or writing an article or giving a speech. Reading takes mental energy. Ideally, you’re reading books that you can learn from, and you’re even taking notes or writing in the margins. Don’t buy into the myth that you aren’t ‘doing anything’ if you’re reading. Your brain would definitely disagree.
MYTH: ‘My opinion about a book doesn’t matter.’
FACT: News alert: Your opinion counts! For some reason, many readers are hesitant about expressing their opinion on a book. I believe a lot of that stems from insecurity.
We think something like, “If I tell them I believe that, in this passage, the sun is a metaphor for God, will they laugh at me? Will I be ostracized from my reading community for having such a terrible, uneducated, ridiculous opinion? Will I live alone for the rest of my life?”
But you know what? Everyone else is thinking the same thing, maybe just slightly less exaggerated. So be bold.
Whether it’s at a book group or a lunch discussion or reviewing a book on Amazon, be honest and confident. You don’t have to be a professional book reviewer or critic to have a legitimate opinion.
MYTH: “If you’re reading [insert genre], that’s not really reading”
FACT: I call these people book snobs. And, believe me, I know. I’m a recovering book snob myself. The book snobs might say your love of the vampire romance genre doesn’t count, or the fact that you have Snooki’s biography on your shelf is embarrassing (okay, maybe that’s true).
But you have to read what you’re passionate about. If you don’t like Faulkner or historical biographies, no amount of prodding by a book snob will change your mind. Here’s the truth: If you’re reading anything, you’re reading. And that’s a lot more than many people can boast these days.