Reading is boring – By @larrygrange

Laurens Grainger

By Laurens Grainger


Reading is boring


I have a confession to make.  Until I was 20 years old, I had never read a book from cover to cover.

I saw books as dull blocks of paper that only dull teachers and the elderly found interesting.  I thought all books were either about scientific theories or were the equivalent of Downton Abbey in text form.

My poor Mother tried so hard to get me reading.  Every year I got another book for Christmas, but every year that book became another door stop.

I didn’t want to read.  I saw no reason to do so.  And no-one could convince me otherwise.

From the day of my birth to the day that I left for uni, I had never read a proper book.  And through the first two years of uni I didn’t read one either.  

For the third year of my uni degree though, I was out on placement.  That’s when things changed.

On my placement year, I was lucky enough to work at the king of coupons – Groupon.  You’re probably thinking – “that sounds boring”.  You’re right – it was.  But the 60 minute commute was even worse.

I spent the majority of my early twenties with bricks for mobile phones (I had a habit of buying smartphones and breaking them within a week).  This made commutes really bad.  Although I became very good at Sudoku, this love for numbers couldn’t last.  I needed another distraction.

I tried falling asleep on people’s shoulders, I tried playing rock-paper-scissors against myself, I tried staring at people.  None of them seemed to work that well for me.

After months of internal battling, I swallowed my pride and decided that it was time to give reading another go.  So I looked for a sports autobiography because that was something that seemed at least vaguely interesting (and because I’m a massive LAD).  I went out and bought Matthew Pinsent’s autobiography.

This was a turning point.

The book was brilliant.  It was everything that I thought a ‘book’ was not.  It wasn’t boring, it wasn’t written in a pretentious tone, and it wasn’t completely irrelevant to my day-to-day life.

While I was nowhere near being an Olympic Gold medallist, the book taught me lessons about hard graft and teamwork that I perhaps could not have learned elsewhere.

Unfortunately, the book came to an end (I did not know it was common practice for books to have an ending). So once I finished Pinsent’s autobiography, I made it a priority to find another book as soon as possible to stop me from becoming a tube creep again.

I bought Alan Partridge’s autobiography.  I won’t go on about how great it was, but it was fucking hilarious.

It was so hilarious in fact, I found myself sharing snippets of it with any poor soul who’d bother to listen.

I met with a cousin one night and we ended up speaking about it for hours and hours. We were in hysterics.

At the end of the night, I made sure to ask him what book he had been reading.  He said about Ogilvy’s ‘Confessions of an Advertising Man’.  He knew I was interested in advertising, so he lent it to me.

That again, was an amazing read.  But the story of Ogilvy led me to something even better – Rory Sutherland.

A few Ted talks and blog posts later, and Mr Sutherland pointed me in the direction of about…roughly…approximately…one million new books.

While I didn’t make it through all of them, many of these were incredible, which then led me on to even more things to read.  Some about economics, some about writing, some about psychology.  These were topics that I’d never before found very interesting, but that I was now fascinated by.

For me, that is the most beautiful thing about books.  They’re not just about stories or learning new skills.  Books are about discovery. 

Every time you read a new book, you find yourself being pointed in to the direction of something new and wonderful that you never knew about before hand.  It’s ancient history’s equivalent to YouTube’s ‘suggested videos’ tab. Books aren’t just dull blocks of paper, they’re a door to the imagination of some of the most interesting people who have ever lived.

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