Confessions from a Reluctant Reader by F.T. Bradley
Hi, I’m Fleur, and I’m a reluctant reader. (Hi, Fleur!) Give me a book, and I’ll measure the spine first. If it looks a little fat, I’ll sigh internally, and, if the book is really hefty, I’ll sigh out loud. That’s just how I roll as a reader. I like my stories lean, mean, and preferably with a little crime in it. Extra points if it’s a middle-grade novel, since those are my favorite.
Now, I wasn’t always so reluctant a reader. During my elementary years (four score and seven years ago), I devoured books—I was the kid who read under the covers with a flashlight. Major Nerdy Book Club member, and proud of it. I loved Roald Dahl, and every day at school, my friends (fellow Nerdies) would talk about the books we were reading. And some of them had pretty chunky spines, I’m proud to say.
My reluctance was born at the typical time: about middle-school, and more seriously in high school, when required reading became part of my vocabulary. No more Nerdy book talk on the playground, because I didn’t like any of the books I was reading (and also, I was very busy trying to be cool). Confession time: I cheated and watched the movie instead of reading the book more than once. Sorry, teachers…
This anti-reading attitude continued into my twenties, when I didn’t read a single book—a shocker if you consider I write books for a living now.
So what changed, you ask? I was ordered on bed rest during my pregnancy, and a friend gave me a book to read. Since I was pretty chunky and had nowhere to go, I read it—it was a thriller by John Sandford, pretty suspenseful fare. And it rekindled my love for reading. Suddenly, I was staying up well past my bedtime again, reading those paperback thrillers and mysteries that wouldn’t make very good required reading at all (but they’re oh-so juicy).
I eventually came full-circle: I now read lots of middle-grade novels, hunting for great thrillers and mysteries in the eight-to-twelve year-old department. And I realized that there’s nothing wrong with being a little reluctant about your reading choices. When I open a book, I want to be swept away by the story. I like lots of action, and, if there’s any navel-gazing going on, it had better be while we’re on our way to hunt down a clue or a bad guy.
What I realize now that I’m well beyond required reading years is that I like to choose my books, not be told what to read. I like books with action. Dialogue over lengthy narrative. A smart plot. Every once in a while, I like a good graphic novel, because sometimes those images tell a story best.
Now I make it my mission (when nobody kicks me off my soapbox—thanks for indulging me so far) to talk about reluctant readers. How it’s all about getting our hands on the right book. Because reading is cool.
That’s the end of my soapbox moment.
So tell me: what was your favorite novel during your MG years? Mine was The BFG…
F. T. Bradley is originally from the Netherlands and still likes to travel whenever she gets a chance. She lives on the Mississippi Gulf Coast with her husband and two daughters. Double Vision is the first book in her new middle-grade series about Linc Baker and Ben Green, aimed at reluctant readers like herself.