A Trip Down Memory Lane

This essay was written by Brandon Monk.

Let’s take a trip down memory lane. For me, memory lane leads to a cul-de-sac with Paulsen’s Hatchet at the dead-end. I  read it as an adult and I still enjoy it, but as a child I remember wanting to live it. I even convinced my parents to buy a hatchet from a campground gift shop. I acted out the adventure, stranded with only the hatchet to survive. Silly, I know, but the book cast its spell. Paulsen set out with a simple motivation, write a page turning story. The story worked on me. Brian Robeson narrates. Faced with divorcing parents, initially, the book progresses and a survival tale engulfs the domestic anxiety. Brian’s pilot’s heart seizes up, the plane goes down, and Brian survives alone for many days. Brian’s mistakes could have killed him. Instead, combined luck, brilliance, and patience keep him alive. His survival spawns new confidence.

I enjoyed reading Hatchet because I identified with Brian. We shared an approximate age and affinity for the outdoors and the independence it represented. I liked hatchets and possessed the desire to test myself with it. There the similarities ended, but the book’s grip hardened like cement. I offer advice forged in my experience with Hatchet. Identify fearlessly with a core character or idea. Reading for entertainment requires feather-like reflexes. Literary critics can’t risk getting swept away, but for a reader, like yourself, you live for the experience of floating like a feather in the narrative.Come up with a book related memory. Were you reading? Were you being read to? Maybe someone recited a story or poem from memory?

It’s time to wake up the memory if you have one. If not, read on.

No pleasant reading memory? You can develop a pleasant reading memory with a little effort. Troubled because you think you just don’t like to read? Relax, you can blame your childhood if you want.  An adult pressuring you into reading may have accidentally inhibited your reading progress. A child forced into reading before they are ready may carry over her dislike for the experience into later school work and even into adult life. Adler, Mortimer J., and Doren Charles. Van. How to Read a Book: the Classic Guide to Intelligent Reading. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1972. Print, 24. This means you are excused from your reading past. Now, commit to plod forward.

Apprehension toward reading shouldn’t last forever. You can retrain your brain.The brain isn’t a hard-wired circuit board, it’s more akin to moldable plastic. For our purposes, neuroplasticity means we can strengthen through repetition of physical or mental activity into a habit. For all the mental flexibility we can end up locking ourselves into rigid behavior, even negative behaviors. 14. Jacobs, Alan. The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction. New York: Oxford UP, 2011, Kindle loc 1349.  Just as easily as we create negative rigid behavior, though, we can create new positive rigid behavior through consistent practice. No matter your reading past, your brain physically changes after weeks of reading. You can actually re-wire your brain to make reading every day easier if you consistently practice.

Have you ever enjoyed reading a book? Ever lost time while reading? Write down the name of the book and the author in your journal or Evernote. Share the name of the book in the comments if you prefer. Whether you have ever enjoyed reading a book or not commit to a regular reading plan you design. Can you read 10 pages a day for two weeks? Remember to read them slowly, with a pencil, and ask questions as you read.

The 14th reading day will be easier than the first week as you mold positive rigid behavior.

Photo: Some rights reserved by ajvin.


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