Bookish Questions: Do you remember a time when you were not a reader?

So I’ve decided to start a reading-centric theme a few times a month regarding questions related to reading or how books and literature impact our lives and the world around us. I’ve seen this question come up a few times on booktube and several blogs, and thought I’d address it now as the first question in this series.


For me this is a very clear-cut pre- and post-reading line. As I’ve mentioned before, I grew up in rural Arkansas and due to family circumstances, I didn’t have health insurance. I didn’t see the doctor unless the visits were covered by the state’s child vaccination program. This means I also didn’t have an eye exam until I started kindergarten (which I initially passed). About halfway through the year though I started having trouble in class and my teacher recommended the nurse give me an eye exam. I failed the test and they recommended my parents take me for a formal exam… which I failed epicly.*

Because this was such an important event in my life, I still remember most of the conversation with the doctor, which went a little like the dialogue below. I don’t remember if it was shapes or letters, since I was 5 and couldn’t read.

Doctor: [normal spiel about not being scared, it’s not going to hurt, and where to look]. Ok, I’m going to bring up the screen now and I want you to tell me what you see.

Me: …..

Doctor: [eye exam is up and ready to go but there is awkward silence] Are you okay? Can you tell me what you see?

Me: I’m waiting for you to put the test up. Is it up now?

I’m now a scientist, so you can imagine what it was like for an overeager, intelligent child to struggle learning how to read. I learned to read about a day after receiving my first pair of glasses. This revelation was amazing to me. It was like a light went off. I exclaimed when we left that “Trees have leaves!” and then launched in to an explanation to my mom that I KNEW trees had leaves, but I didn’t realize you can see them like this… which promptly made her cry.

I was just about to turn 6 when my very first pair of glasses came in, and went from a nonreader to reading at the 6th grade level in about two months, and then never looked back. There have been times in my life [cough, cough, graduate school] when I read less, but I always have been and always will be a reader.

*When they bring up the test all I see is a light spot on the wall. That’s it. My prescription is currently -11.0 (left eye) and -10.5 (right eye). 



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