the reading rainbow
September 28, 2012 1:19 PM Subscribe
I used to like reading until about fourth grade. That's when books started getting more intricate with more characters and multiple plotlines etc. I'm pretty sure I have ADD and/or a terrible capacity for that kind of thing. What books might I enjoy now? (I'm 21/F)
posted by lhude sing cuccu to sports, hobbies, & recreation (34 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
When I was a kid, I never stopped reading. Some of my favorites were A Wrinkle in Time, Bridge to Terabithia, Tuck Everlasting, and (OK, primarily) the Babysitter's Little Sister series. But then when I started getting older, things got weird. The font got smaller. About ten extra characters got dumped in. I had to remember names, places, descriptions! I stopped reading for a long time.
In middle school, I started reading again, and I mostly liked coming-of-age novels like Catcher in the Rye and Perks of Being a Wallflower. The last book I read during this time was Oliver Twist. I got to the middle and couldn't finish it. I felt like things were happening in the book that went over my head; I remember thinking that I was only getting the basic storyline of the book and missing a LOT. I almost failed English class in high school because of this; I never got the metaphors and let's not even mention Shakespeare. (In 11th grade, the teacher let me use SparkNotes instead of the real text just so I could follow along!)
But now I'm in college and I'd like to start reading fiction again. The trouble is, although I would probably theoretically prefer serious, dense, reflective, substantial books, I just can't read them. I don't like light, fluffy, cute, or "chick lit"...I get annoyed that it's too easy. (I'm so used to academic non-fiction now, one thing that troubles me with fiction is that it's hard to find a book that makes you think but one that I can still actually focus on for long periods.)
I like a strong main character with a focus on the character's personal struggles over environmental or even interpersonal detail. I like "slice of life" books but start to tune out if there's not a very noticeable plotline to follow. I prefer realistic and stark over poetic, literary, or "beautiful." I like books that stay with you after you've read them. One thing I liked about Perks of Being a Wallflower was that it got stuck in my mind for weeks (granted, I was 13 at the time, but I really felt like I could relate to the main character).
I like books that are unusual and/or controversial, perhaps even niche. Bonus for gay and/or college-aged characters. Setting (rural/urban) doesn't matter, but I'd prefer contemporary. I have a really hard time with wartime books or "marriage against all odds" or "Siberia in the 1500's." It's just that if I can't relate to it on some level, experience tells me I will most certainly drift off after page 5. I'd consider a non-contemporary book though, if you have a good suggestion.
Recently, I liked:
Milk Sulphate and Alby Starvation by Martin Millar (kind of a dystopian novel with a strong main character)
Clockwork Orange (another strong main character)
Average American Male by Chad Kultgen (crude, with lines like "and then I went into my son's room to find some porn during my lunch break," and doesn't try to be poetic or literary)
The Subject Steve by Sam Lipsyte (amazon calls it 'satirical' and its humor 'deadpan;' it's about a guy who's dying of boredom, and after he gets diagnosed as having a fatal made-up disease, he joins a cult for Non-Denominational Recovery...I liked the non-self-conscious humor and societal/medical/religious themes...pretty cool book...it's really easy to ruin a book with a plot like this but it was written well.)
1a.) Am I dim? Is this what ADD looks like or should I just try harder?
1b.) Are there techniques to reading more difficult or dense books?
2.) Can you recommend some books I might like?