Learn how to read since you don’t know how to. That’s a bold title and an equally bold claim. I’m saying that you, i.e. most people, don’t know how to read. Bold? Yes, but it is accurate.
Trust me, i wanna get into how you can learn how to read but i need to get this front stuff outta the way first.
How do i know that you don’t know how to read? Because most people aren’t reading. Most folks watch movies and television as of this writing. There’s nothing wrong with the visual medium of story telling. But folks are missing out on this Golden Age of publishing.
Because of the ease of self publishing, there are now more books than ever. Yes, that means that there is a ton of garbage out there but there are also plenty of good books too.
Writing—and, in turn, reading—was once for the rich. The classics were written by rich kids with too much time and brains on their hands to entertain those with the same problems. And here’s the kicker. Most of the classics are not that good. They were the only things available. Sorry, but it’s true.
Anyhoo, the democratization of writing may be bigger and greater than Gutenberg’s press. Think about that. You now have hundreds of options in any niche that you want. The publishing world is your oyster. You can read dinosaur fiction, legal thrillers, stories about puppies, anything. Are most good? Maybe not, but there are gems in all of them. Television and movies are limited, books are not. So shouldn’t people have their noses in books and the boob tube collecting dust? Yes, they should but the only reason they don’t is because people do not know the basics of how to read.
Enough theory that maybe i’m wrong about. Let’s get to it.
Point of View
Point of view, or POV for short, is how you the reader experience the story.
The two main types of point of view are first person and third person.
First person is where the story is being told to you from the point of view of the character. It’s like you’re reading a journal or the person is telling you a story from across a fireplace.
I walked into the hospital, trying to find Joe, but he was nowhere in the lobby.
As you can see, it’s all from the point of view from one person.
The second popular way is writing in third person. Basically, it’s like a camera is following the action, most of them with an emphasis on one person. Think of it as you being invisible and standing next to a character observing everything that’s happening.
Tom walked into the hospital, trying to find Joe, but he was nowhere in the lobby.
I won’t get into the pros and cons of both but it is good to know from what point of view you are reading from to better enjoy the book. Sometimes, a book might be in your wheelhouse but you’re not into the point of view. If so, drop the book.
There are masters of writing who can switch point of views from chapter to chapter but those guys and gals are advanced writers that you should enjoy. They are the exception but it is something to look out for.
On a quick aside, why do people talk about first and third person? Isn’t there a second?
Yes there is, my astute reader.
Second point of view is where the writer is telling you what you’re doing and what you’re experiencing. It is rarely done but when it’s done well, it’s great. Here’s how it would read using our previous example.
You walked into the hospital, trying to find Joe, but you don’t see him.
If you can take anything away from this article it should be this. Scene breaks. Man, they confused the heck out of me as a kid when i would read.
One moment i’m in the Columbian forest and then the next i’m on an aircraft carrier. How did this happen? This is the same chapter, right?
What happened was there was a scene break and you didn’t allow your mind to shift.
Scene breaks are like chapter breaks but in the middle of a chapter. What sucks is, some authors use a double space break to signal a scene break.
That right there? That empty space? That was a scene break for some books. Yeah, i know. Annoying. I would just kept reading and couldn’t understand why i was confused or why the writer was writing so poorly.
Most scene breaks have three asterisks, a dash, or a fleuron (fancy French word for an image).
Something like that.
So why the scene break? Well, there’s a reason i put this second after point of view even though this is more important than point of view.
Many times a scene break is for changing a point of view in the middle of a paragraph.
Let’s say you have a killer and victim inside a house, playing hide and seek of the deadly version. Well, let’s say that the writer wants you to “see” what the victim is doing and then wants to switch it to the killer. If you did this without a chapter break or a scene break, the writing would be muddied.
Another time writers use scene breaks are for jumps in time.
If someone just got the secret papers from a temple and they are now running to catch a plane, the time between them leaving the jungle and running to the plane can be settled with a scene break. Some writers like to just continue on with another paragraph but some do not. Keep your eyes out for that though.
Use Your Imagination
Adults tend not to do this because we’re too old to play make believe but that’s the key to enjoying reading!
As you read, don’t make it homework. It should be you having the imagination of a child with things going BOOM and Ka-TOOSH! Imagine the woman opening the door. Feel her hand as it turns the knob. What does she look like? What is her face doing, her body? What do her surroundings look like? All this is up to you. Play make believe and have fun with it. Reading should be hallucinating without the aid of drugs.
Again, too many readers read books like this happened and then this happened. No! Get in it! Experience the book and imagine that you are there. See, in your mind, what is being told to you in those little black marks.
It’s Not about Being Smart
Too many people try to showoff by what they’re reading or think that reading makes them smarter. While, yes, most people who read tend to have higher IQs than their non-reading brethren, imagining stuff isn’t Einstein level stuff, folks. Anyone can do it.
But since reading books has this… thing, out it that you have to be smart or it means you’re some kinda smart, deep person, turns people off and, more importantly, those that read with that snobby attitude are reading to show off, not for entertainment.
Everyone who was college aged went through their “I’m currently reading a book on the salt trade and it’s ramifications on equality. It’s a great book.” My eyes just roll when i hear someone say that knowing full dang well that that dude pretending to be the Monopoly Man is hating what he’s reading. Reading isn’t a pissing contest of how smart, deep, and complicated you are. It’s entertainment, that’s it.
Read For Pleasure
Which leads me to my next point. Read for pleasure. Never, and i mean never, read a book ‘cause it’s what others think is cool. Book clubs are cool (i’ve never been in one) but if someone offers a book to read and it’s not your jam, then stop reading it! If you’re a guy and you secretly like the show Downton Abbey then by all means, pick a regency novel and get lost in it!
There’s this miniatures game called Warhammer 40,000. It’s about the far future that is full of aliens, monsters, robots, and death. Sometimes i just wanna read a bunch of Space Marines shoot each other, seeing bodies go splat and seeing things go boom. It’s bloody. It’s violent. It ain’t the smartest or deepest of reads. And, sometimes, it’s just what the doctor ordered. Then, i’ll pick up a biography. Total change of gears. It doesn’t matter. It’s what you like. Read that.
Put It Down
And finally, i touched on this before but seriously folks, if the book sucks or jut isn’t what you’re into then for the love of everything that’s everything, stop reading it. No, you don’t need to finish that book you’ve read halfway through. Just toss it against the wall and flip it off as it lands on the ground in a thud. Then, pick up another book and get to smiling.
To Sum It Up
And there it is! How to read. Be careful with the scene breaks and point of views. And read stuff you like, not things you think you should like or things you want other people to think you should like. Reading should be fun. Why? Because it is! Now, get to reading that time traveling police procedural that you’ve always wanted and drop that snoozer of a book.