For most of my younger life i let my dyslexia beat me and never even attempted reading. I was behind in my scheduled reading in school, and once secondary school hit i could get away with my inability to read an actual book cover to cover. I’m not saying this is the right way to do it, but it’s the way i did it.
I managed at school easily enough. Sometimes i’d mix up a question and miss understand it on a test, or i’d definitely struggle to read out loud (that still something that i struggle with very much, the words get even more mixed up when i’m trying to say them out loud), but i hide well the fact i’d never read a book front to back and i didn’t ever intend on.
When i turned sixteen Carrie Hope Fletcher had started her YouTube channel and at that time, had talked a lot about books. So i bought my first book. It was an easy, chick-lit type read that took me about a month to get through but i did it. Then as me and Sophie started discussing books a little more, she gave me recommendations and i was off reading.
Reading was a very slow starter for me. I enjoyed the feeling of learning about new worlds and characters lives, but i hated the pressure i felt to read quickly or to make complete sense of what i was reading, even though i was always a very simple chick-lit novel or often middle grade story. So i carried on, started to read a little faster the more my brain got used to reading book after book and a few years later, this blog was started as my reading tastes grew, changed and developed in to my very secure taste i have now.
My main struggle with being dyslexic and reading is not understanding plot lines. I’ve mentioned this before but i struggle massively with high fantasy books or adult novels. They are usually worded in more complicated ways and definitely with high fantasy all the names and places are thought up by the author, so i don’t even have anything to compare it to in order to make sense of it. This isn’t just limited to these genres obviously. I can be reading a YA contemporary novel and find an odd sentence, try to focus on the meaning and before i know it i have no idea what’s happened in the story and who is this new character?
I know some of that comes in to concentration, but when you’re dyslexic and you’re putting so much focus in to what you’re reading, you do tend to lose concentration quite quickly on the story and what is actually happening in that particular scene.
So anything with a slightly complicated story line or words that i’m not going to understand right away, i find it hard to even attempt to read it. In situations like this my confidence with reading is knocked and i will go straight back to my comfort zone of YA contemporary.
As i’ve grown older i have experimented with more genres, some non-fiction and things i would have been scared of in the past. However, living with dyslexia and being a reader is something that i will struggle with and will always struggle with. It’s frustrating when something you love so much becomes a burden sometimes and something that you loathe. I’ve never wanted to be put off reading from my ability to not understand a sentence properly.
Right now, i’ve managed to become happy with my reading speed (if i focus, i can read about fifty pages in an hour). But it still makes me jealous seeing so many people capable of reading so much faster than i can, finishing books quicker and reading more in a month. Writing monthly wrap-ups has been a blessing and a curse for me. If i have a good month i’m proud, if i have a bad i’m full of guilt until i improve. I know none of it is my fault for reading slow or not being able to focus for whatever reason, but it still frustrates me.
Living with dyslexia in the book community is a very interesting experience. I’m proud of how far i’ve come with my reading abilities, but i know i have a long way to go. I want to try to expand my reading a little more and really push myself to read things that are more complex and will stretch me. I want to learn not to be bothered about deadlines with reading and be happy that i have the capability to follow a text. I easily get frustrated with myself for losing focus and not understanding something i think i should do.
I always will enjoy reading, but it means i forget things about stories often, character names and plot twists because my mind doesn’t fully absorb it when i’m reading while i’m focusing too much on getting the words right.
I hope this has given you a little bit of an insight in to what it’s like reading as a dyslexic.