A children’s story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children’s story in the slightest. C. S. Lewis
I thought for a long time there was something wrong with me, that I had a deficiency. I’m talking about my reading skills, both speed and comprehension. I eventually had to accept that all books aren’t necessarily meant for everyone.
I started studying theology in 1994, and although I sometimes regret giving it up after three semesters, I think it was probably a wise decision. I found it too challenging without any kind of help. I switched to the teacher training course when I failed in theology, but just barely made it through, and I was probably the hardest working student on campus.
Reading has always been a problem, which I have discovered has something to do with attention. It’s hard to focus on a good day, but I also have long periods when I find it almost impossible. I have to make myself read, and although I don’t always have the motivation, I appreciate the result. It never comes easy, but I still enjoy it. My mind wanders a lot, which is why I’m reading four books at the moment. I don’t know how many times I was accused of being lazy when I was growing up. I tried telling people I wasn’t, but couldn’t convince them. They were so sure they had me figured out.
It puzzles me how I can enjoy reading, and why I didn’t give it up when it gave me so much frustration at a young age. In some ways it saved my life, and it made my adult life a lot better. I can still remember sitting alone in my bedsit in 1984. I had moved away to go to upper secondary school, and was friendless in a strange place. It was a pretty scary situation to find myself in at 16, but I suppose I demonstrated a will to have a life by moving away from my family. I went to the library and discovered The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. That was a revelation, and I had some of the same feeling when I many years later discovered Harry Potter. I was in many ways the man who lived, because I had books.
The important thing is to enjoy the books, and I always have. It took me a while to get to the last page in those days, and it still does, but I have always loved the adventures I’ve taken with Frodo, Harry, Ron, Hermione, Percy, Meg Murry, Coraline, Sophie Hatter, and many others. Not that I needed an alibi, because I think there is some great children’s literature that everyone should read, but now that I’m writing children’s fantasy myself, I’m reading more YA-literature than ever before. I still read books that are written for an adult audience, but there’s something special about the books I can enjoy together with my daughter.
This is a difficult time and I suspect some are starting to feel the isolation coroding their spirit. I’m not in high spirits every day, but I feel a lot better when I can read. I haven’t been able to every day, because there are days when I just can’t concentrate, but I have read most days the last three weeks. It has almost given me the feeling I had as a child when I didn’t read stories; I lived them. That came back to me when J. K. Rowling publihed Harry Potter. I was there, together with Harry, Ron, and Hermione, and I haven’t left that magial world yet.
She’s been unsually active on Twitter during these troubled times, and I especially like a post she published four days ago:
I’ve always felt that reading a book is worth the time and effort, and to some of us every word requires a lot of work. It makes me more grateful for my own accomplishments, for the work the authors have done, and for being invited into their world. I watched an animation with my daughter the other night, a Japanese version of Howl’s Moving Castle. It wasn’t a bad film, but it also reminded me of what a superior experience reading is. I like watching films, but the characters don’t need a film studio to come alive. They are already living inside the head of the readers