As I started writing this post I realized why I had such a long gap between posts this past month. It’s because this past month I have read more literature than ever before.
Because for the first time, I have found the kinds of books that I simply cannot put down. And its about time.
My reading habits are a function of my intrinsic motivation. While I have always been assigned reading material, I didn’t always read them. And the ones I did, I didn’t always enjoy. What I did enjoy were the books that weren’t given to me as an assignment. They were books that I chose to read on my own; books that had nothing to do with science fiction, nothing to do with magical realism, and nothing to do with something that never happened. The books I dove into dealt with real world issues, issues that I could connect with. Those books were not only read cover to cover, but they changed the way I thought for the better.
The first type of consistent reading I had was in ninth grade. I didn’t love the content, but I loved the way it was taught. My teacher used his assignments to make me want to focus on what I was reading. So while I may have been reading Shakespeare, I also had to connect what Shakespeare was saying to a song by Nickelback, which back then was my favorite artist. It was because of that teacher that I started appreciating Shakespeare, which came in handy when I went to the Globe Theater in London.
Sophomore year was different. While I had nothing against my teacher personally, I didn’t like the style of reading she chose. Magical Realism was a joke to me because I could never connect it to any part of my life. For the first three quarters, I rarely read. I still read the USA Today every day, but I didn’t read my assigned English content. This was until the fourth quarter when we received a new teacher. This teacher was more into class participation, which I was a big fan of. The one book he chose, The Glass Menagerie, was the only English book I read cover to cover that year.
Junior year I got back on track. My first class, Ethics and Existence, focused on content that I could connect with. The second semester, however, was on American Literature; Fictional American Literature. However, in this case, I still had an incredible time. While initially I didn’t care for the content, I loved the assignments given around the content. I loved the miniature reading assignments given daily, because those assignments had to do with real issues in this country, issues that I could connect with what I read every morning, which by then was the New York Times. It was because of the assignments given by my teacher that lead me to start enjoying the books given. This would be the first full semester that I would read at least three books cover to cover.
My senior year had positives and negative. My first class was Mythology in Literature. And while I had great respect for my teacher, I couldn’t get into the content. I would read “And then he grew wings”, and would think to myself “uh, no he didn’t.” However, this year there came another source of reading material. Material that while I was not forced to read, I loved. The first was $20 A Gallon. I read its book review in the Times and that day I bought it. It was a theoretical book, but it used current hot issues to prove its points. The second book was recommended to me by a friend, called Never Eat Alone. It talked about how in today’s business environment, self marketing is crucial.
Then came Drive. It was an amazing book that basically explained to me why I didn’t like reading most of the books I had read prior. My kind of book is one that talks to me directly. There is no main character, no magic, or anything like that. It’s a piece of writing that changes the way I think. That was drive in a nutshell. It had to do with a new type of motivation that many had not considered a sort of “intrinsic motivation”, the kind of motivation that had caused me to read the paper every morning instead of my English book for the past four years. And I fell in love with it. I had two long flights the next two days, so I read that 300 page book cover to cover in 48 hours, a feat I had never completed before.
I don’t read because I am told, I read because I get curious. I don’t read because I want to see action and adventure from text, I read because I can’t wait to see how an idea can dramatically change my way of thinking.
I’ve read two more books since then, Outliers and The Tipping Point, both by Malcolm Gladwell. But that’s another post :-)
Thanks for reading…