Reading is Hard Work
Growing up, I felt like I was bad at reading. I first felt this in elementary school, when some kids were put in remedial reading, and some in accelerated programs. It made me believe that reading just came naturally to some of us, and that may be true. But regardless of whether we were "good" readers or "bad" readers, we all eventually encountered a book that was over our heads. Did you understand Shakespeare the first time you read it? Do you understand it now? Shakespeare seems to be standard curriculum in high school and college, yet most high school and college students are unequipped to read and immediately understand Shakespearian English. It can be discouraging to see other people reading difficult material with ease, while we struggle through it. However, the problem has never been the difficulty of the reading material, it is our expectations.
Here is an important secret about reading: it's hard work. Reading a quality book, that is a book that will challenge you and help you grow, is more like exercising at the gym than watching a movie. We sit down to watch a movie expecting to be comfortable and entertained. We go to the gym prepared to sweat, but expecting results for our effort. Reading bestselling popular novels while curled up on the sofa can be like watching a movie, but taking this same approach with more difficult reading material is setting yourself up for disillusionment. Wanting all books to be entertaining and easy, will make you approach with fear and loathing any book that is thick, old, or dry. "It was so much fun reading Harry Potter, so why am I having such a hard time with Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations?" Of course the book is difficult to understand. The author knows something you don’t; otherwise it would be easy (and unproductive).
Just like at the gym, read for results, not just for fun. And just like at the gym, everyone has different capabilities. Some people can lift all the weight in the room, and others just lift little five pound dumbbells. The key is finding what challenges you. If your reading is easy and fun, it may be time to bump it up a notch. Using this exercise and work mentality, empowers you to read even the most difficult books. Look at it as a puzzle, and chip away at it piece by piece. No book is impossible if it is taken slowly: word by word, phrase by phrase. Putting forth this kind of effort to the right books can have far reaching benefits in your life. So don’t be discouraged if reading is difficult. If it’s not, you’re not growing.