Picture this: a chubby fifth-grader walks into the library with his classmates during the language arts period once again to check out books, read, and complete AR reading quizzes. These AR (Advanced Reader) quizzes were my school’s way to gauge our understanding of what we read; in exchange for exemplary quiz scores, we’d receive points which if accumulated to a certain extent, could grant you admission to the prestigious elementary pizza party held only for the most avid readers of the class. Books would be classified by numbers, ascending respective top it’s difficulty level; as the level increased, so did the points given per quiz. Naturally, higher-level books such as Harry Potter gave you a certain grade of prestige; flashing a 600-page book at the library would make you an AR Points high roller.
I once tried reading one of these books, but of course, I did not get past the second page; my nature is direct, and the overwhelming sugarcoating that consumed a single action in the novel bored me instantly. Being a very practical fifth-grader, I knew I had to make the pizza party somehow, but definitely not by reading such sugarcoated books. Suddenly, something clicked in my head, this was a “hackable” system. I went over to the kindergarten section of the library, did my “market research”, and did the math: completing a Harry Potter book would give 12 points, a bucket-load of points, and reading one Curious George book from the kinder section would grant me 3 points… meaning that taking the quizzes for four Curious George books would give me the point equivalent of a Harry Potter book in a dramatic fraction of the time.
Now, picture this: a chubby fifth-grader walks into the library with his classmates during the language arts period once again to check out books, read, and complete AR reading quizzes; he goes to the kindergarten section, picks up four random Curious George books. In approximately 50 minutes, he collects as many points as the most dedicated reader did in weeks. What pushed me to be this productive (by definition)? There were two reasons:
1) I really wanted pizza.
2) No textbook, encyclopedia, or any sort of objective expository text formed part of the AR Quiz program.
(My favorite book as a child: Sharks of the World, Princeton Field Guides)
For as long asI can remember, I always had a keen interest for explicit information. Throughout elementary, my favorite books were “Sharks of the World (Princeton Field Guide)” and a set of illustrated encyclopedias, ranging from astronomy to paleontology. The absence of sugarcoating and the explicit presentation of information made me overlook any sort of novel or narrative for as long as I can remember. Up until 8th grade, despite multiple attempts at reading novels, I found no pleasure on trying to read them; their reluctance to directly describe and narrate made me rapidly lose hope.
Every hope seemed lost, until, during one of my procrastination-induced internet adventures, I came across a webpagecalled “CreepyPasta”: inthis site, members publish short horror stories which would be rated by other users; the briefness and conciseness of these stories captured my absolute attention, and to this day, has become the only type of fictional, narrative reading I truly enjoy.
Of course, my interest is still solidly pinned on these information-based books: as I develop my professional ambitions, I have picked up multiple of my godfather’s medical textbooks, my father’s business books, and many others. Although my passion for reading is solely focused on short horror stories and information-based books, I am still trying to find another sort of fictional narrative I enjoy, because in the end, I actually admire people who can read novels for fun; it is indeed one of the most stimulating hobbies a person can engage in. Although my practical, mathematical, chubby 5th-grade mentality of productivity still prevails, I seek to pick up this beautiful habit that has eluded me for as long as I can remember.