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How to Cure Reader’s Block


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By Sylvia Nica ’20, Contributor

When I was younger, I read constantly. It got to the point that, when I was grounded, I was prohibited from even touching a book. However, something odd happened when I reached high school. Books, once enjoyable, became stagnant, flat.

I called it Reader’s Block, something infinitely worse than Writer’s Block. I’m not suffering alone. Countless other have told me about their inability to read anymore. However, no one knows how to fix this terrible affliction.

My personal cure? Deleting all social media and throwing away my textbooks—kind of.

While my approach is drastic, it does have reasoning behind it. Phones have been known to decrease our attention spans—a Stanford study proved how frequent phone users have a harder time devoting a deep attention to task. Social media trains us to expect instant gratification, while reading is something that requires time and effort. I found that when I wasn’t scrolling through Instagram or distracted by snap notifications, it became much easier to sit down and pick up a novel.

Our academic texts may also be to blame. When reading non-fiction, we read slowly and pick apart individual sentence. Facts and memorization become much more important than immersion. Fiction reading, or any other type pleasure reading, requires a different skill set. If I didn’t force myself to sit down and read a story, I found that “textbook” reading became a permanent mindset. I began setting aside one hour a week to read a non-school book. I also burned my textbooks (kidding).

Others have suggested that stress is a reason—it’s hard to focus on a book when you have twenty things on your mind. While deleting social media helped relieve some of this stress, it’s hard to be completely zen as a Country Day student. I’ve heard sleeping helps.

While I am able to read now, the process wasn’t instantaneous. Even using everything above, I must have shred through four different books before words started to take shape again. Yes, the process was frustrating and lengthy, but the joy of being able to read again was indescribable. It felt like regaining a part of me that had been lost.

There is no singular panacea—each reads person reads differently. However, with some adaptations and time, I think Reader’s Block can be cured. Who knows? Maybe if we abandon social media and throw away our textbooks, then we can all learn to read again.  

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