because I said so

telling it like I think it is: sunili’s blog

Why Sunili Can’t Read Good No More

with 10 comments

One of the many traits (most pretty much all of them bad) I have inherited from my Father is a love of books. I adore them, and the ability to lose myself in a story that an incredibly talented author has created. One of the bestest things I love about reading is that, unlike movies or TV, I have a bit of leeway to imagine stuff on my own too.  I like imagining things.

I have been trying to read for pleasure since I graduated last year, but I have been struggling.

Despite the fact I now have the money to buy books and the time to read them, I have been unable to read properly. I try to read, but I don’t get very far. It weirds me out or something, so I stop.

As a result, the Pile of Books I Want to Read on my bed-side table has been getting higher and higher and it makes me sad, because I really want to read these books (I also have a compulsive book-buying habit, also inherited from Father, but that’s beside the point).

I just read a blog post that made me understand why this is happening. It was totally a *light bulb* moment.

Turns out that I picked up a horrible aversion reading in university.

I went to law school. In law school, law students are subjected to the horrible torture of reading law stuff. Which, as I am sure all law students know, is evil.

We did a unit that involved “Plain English Writing”, sure, but everything else we read was not plain. Or English. It was Evilese.

Evilese, aka Legalese (but that term is just way too nice for what is a horrible curse upon humanity), is rife with the use of NOMINALISATION, which Roguish Tei describes as

the removal of a subject from a sentence. Instead of ’she took’, the nominalization is ‘the taking’. Instead of ‘he broke’, the nominalization is ‘the breaking’. Nominalization is the horror that is verbs masquerading as subjects.

My *light bulb* moment was when I went “OMFG! That’s what law stuff is!!!”

Only I didn’t realise that’s what law stuff is because our education system is effed and I only learned about the existence of verbs and subjects and all that jazz when I was learning French, which was about three years ago.  Only they didn’t go so far as to explain Nominalization, plus I gave up after learning how to order 4 slices of ham anyway. 

So I didn’t think there was anything wrong with the evil law stuff I was reading.

After 6 years (we have a different higher-education structure in Australia, I have two degrees, it’s ok, I’m not a total dummy who spent 6 years in law school) of reading NOTHING MUCH ELSE BUT NOMINALIZATION I started to hate reading.

Reading gave me headaches. It gave me fine-lines and wrinkles that I totally should not have yet. Because I wasn’t just reading — I was trying really hard to figure out what this strange text in a language that is really hard to figure out was trying to say. Because I had to figure it out or else I would fail. And I’m a Type-A Perfectionist Nutjob, and I don’t like failing. So I kept trying harder and harder until I blew up and melted like the Wicked Witch of the West (well, at least, something very similar).

So now I hate reading.

That sucks.

And I’m still working in a job where I have to read legal shite for 8-10 hours a day. So I need to find another profession.

Because I like books more. Way more than law shite.


Written by Sunili

12 June 2008 at 6:37 pm

Posted in law, me stuff

Tagged with ,

10 Responses

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  1. Wow, that was an ephiphany for me. That’s why I had to leave the social work profession for accounting. Reading totally made-up crap for 2 years made me a non-reader for a brief time too…and also caused me to need reading glasses.

    Happily, I am a reader once more 🙂


    12 June 2008 at 10:58 pm

  2. I hope you get your “love for the read” back, it really is a divine escape into the unreality!

    If I didn’t have books, I wouldn’t have breath! But I relate to the drain of educational reading- it really zaps the joy of reading for pleasure.

    Best to you 🙂


    12 June 2008 at 11:56 pm

  3. I used to read compulsively until I got toward the end of my degree and started working. See, while I have to read a lot at work, I don’t have to read nominalised text (or, if nominalised isn’t a word, stuff written in the passive voice) and yet I haven’t read a new book since Harry Potter 7. And even then it took me far longer to get through than it should have (probably two weeks instead of two days).

    I do read on occasion- Vanity Fair mostly, which is a magazine but at least their articles are a bit thought provoking and not about how to maximise my orgasm- but I think my never ending blog and forum reading at work (along with actual work related reading) has killed my ability to concentrate, because I’m so used to the concise nature of the writing. It’s easy gratification, you see. Sometimes there are even pictures.

    This frightens me.

    I also don’t have time to read like I used to, the June VF has been sitting beside my bed for 3 weeks and I’ve read barely anything, but this is a problem. A significant one that must be stopped.

    So, I’m going to force myself to read novels while I’m away. A part of me is excited by this prospect, which is really telling of the sad state of affairs my life is currently in.

    Where the hell should I start? I considered A Million Little Pieces (even though it’s an embellished hoax, it’s still good reading), until i read the article about it in Vanity Fair which mentions that the writer is a renegade that doesn’t care for grammar.

    Maybe I’ll just go and buy some Sweet Valley High.


    13 June 2008 at 1:35 pm

  4. Hm, even though I have a shit concentration span, I’m still pretty verbose. Nothing will stop me, apparently. Sorry about the long comment.


    13 June 2008 at 1:35 pm

  5. Best cure for a non-reading blue is a good long power failure.

    You can of course turn the computer (and consequently all of us) off from time to time.

    I too have to read voluminous amounts at work, but I also have one book in my bag that gets read going to and from work and at lunch time (eyes-off-screen-time) and another book on my bedside table that gets read before bed.

    Blogging works best when combined with recreational reading – you get more oddball ideas.


    13 June 2008 at 2:20 pm

  6. Ray ray, yet another reason why we are BFFFFFFFs. Can’t read, but can ramble.

    Grendel – Hrm, yeah, I think I need to go to a desert island for a while.


    13 June 2008 at 3:15 pm

  7. I go for long periods without reading – for similar reasons you outlined and then some – and have found the best trick is get a potboiler or cheap and cheerful novel I’d be ashamed to be spotted with. No matter how poor the writing or predictable the plot, if it gets me turning pages I remember how good it is to read. Like the brain is forging page-turning pathways or something.


    16 June 2008 at 12:45 pm

  8. Have you tried the “Goodreads” site? You can file all those aspirations on your “to-read” shelf there.


    16 June 2008 at 4:29 pm

  9. Hi Retarius – yeah, I use it… and I have 15 books on my “to read” list 😉


    16 June 2008 at 4:46 pm

  10. […] mentioned, I am totally struggling with the book-reading thing at the moment, but even though I joined Goodreads and stuff a while ago (there’s a link on the right there […]

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