Overcoming a reluctance to read. Part 2 of 6

by a dyslexic library member

This is the second in a series of six blog posts. In it, I would like to show you four ways that using more than one format helps me to engage with books.

1. Reading only some books in print and making informed book choices

I used to think of books as reading print.  But now I realise that print is just one format and that books come in other formats too e.g. audio, graphic novel and film.

Taking this wider view has opened up the world of books for me because it means I now engage with books not just through print but also through listening and images.

Listening to a book and looking at pictures are much more effective ways for me to take in a book’s content than print.

One helpful outcome of this multi-sensory approach to books is that of all the books I engage with, there are only some that I read in print. This gives me the flexibility to use different formats for different purposes. For example, I use:

  • print format for short stories and self-help books;
  • graphic novels for history; and
  • audio for full-length novels.

2Using a more accessible format for topics I find difficult in print

I find some topics difficult to read about in print because of my dyslexic difficulties.

For example, in a print book on some period of history, there is generally too much detail and content for my short-term memory to cope with.   Instead, if I use a book that tells the history in a way that is somehow accessible for me, for example through perspective, format or style, it enables me to assimilate the content.  For example, the graphic novel ‘Sally Heathcote Suffragette’.

For more graphic novels that can help reluctant readers of a variety of ages to engage with history, see:  Graphic novels that impart history in a dyslexia-friendly way.

3. Motivation and enjoyment

Using different formats means I am far more likely to continue reading rather than get discouraged to the point of giving up.  This is because:

  • the material I read is realistic for me in quantity and difficulty; and
  • reading is just one part of an enjoyable, multi-sensory experience with books. This means if I have limited success with reading, I know that I still enjoy books overall.  In other words, reading print is not the be-all and end-all for me, and this takes the pressure off me when I do read.

4. Using more than one format for the same book

This ‘scaffolds’ (=supports) my reading of print. For example, I listened to a self-help book in its entirety before starting to read it.  Having the ‘gist’ of a book before starting to read it helps dyslexics.

Next Friday we will look at booklists for reluctant readers.

Edinburgh Reads: Sue Lawrence and Maggie Ritchie

Our latest Edinburgh Reads events featured two journalists turned historical novelists: Maggie Ritchie and Sue Lawrence.

Maggie Ritchie is the author of Paris Kiss, a retelling of the scandalous love affair between the great sculptor Auguste Rodin and his 19-year-old protégée Camille Claudel, seen through the eyes Camille’s young English friend Jessie Lipscomb.

Maggie explained how the seed of the idea for the book was sown while on honeymoon in Paris. But it was only ten years later, whilst undertaking a creative writing course at Glasgow University, that the love story that had been, as she put it, ‘percolating’ finally began to take shape.

As Maggie explored the real life story behind her novel, she came to realise that Rodin had stronger links with Scotland, and especially Glasgow, than she had first realised – links that were mainly down to Alexander Reid (subject of a previous Edinburgh Reads event).

Over the course several atmospheric readings, Maggie brought her characters to life, prompting questions about the research that she did on her characters.

Obviously there is plenty of biographical information on Rodin himself and to a lesser extent Camille but, as Maggie explained, the comparative lack of material on the character she chose to make her narrator, Jessie Lipscomb, was liberating in that it meant she had more freedom to shape the character. So it’s through the eyes of a newcomer that we see nineteenth century Paris.

Also, this gave Maggie an exciting a new angle to a story that had been told before, most recently in the film Camille Claudel 1915.

Further readings from Paris Kiss gave us a real feeling for the camaraderie between Camille and Jessie in what was a very macho environment. We also got a flavour of belle époque nightlife during a reading which featured a brilliant payoff line.

Maggie’s readings were really superb, and funnily enough in response to a question from a member of the audience she said that she felt she had more in common with an actor than a journalist, in the way as a novelist she had to get inside the mind of a character.

Maggie finished off by talking about two novels she’s currently working on: one is about a love affair with cataclysmic consequences a set in post-colonial southern Africa, the other is a return to the art world of the nineteenth century but instead of Paris this time we’re in Scotland and China.

Needless to say we would be delighted for Maggie to come back and tell us all about them!

Last Thursday’s guest author was former Masterchef Sue Lawrence, whose debut novel ‘Fields of Blue Flax‘ is currently riding high in the Scottish fiction charts.

DSC_6460As well as reading excerpts from the book Sue answered questions from BBC Scotland’s Serena Field about how she came to be a writer and the particular challenges of writing her genealogical mystery with a dual narrative structure.

Part of the novel is set in nineteenth century Dundee so Sue also had to think hard about the use of dialect in the novel and talked about the historical research she had to undertake, and some of the quirks that research throws up – for example hymns that we tend to think of as ‘traditional’ had in fact only just been written.

As usual our Edinburgh Reads audience had come prepared with questions, and Sue answered queries about her favourite authors, how she felt upon finishing the book, whether there will be a follow-up, and which came first: the character or the plot.

Thanks to both authors, our chairs (Maggie’s was her husband Mike) and of course our audiences.  Details and booking for upcoming events here.

Gearing up for the Edinburgh Festival of Cycling

We’re delighted that Edinburgh Libraries will be at the heart of this year’s Edinburgh Festival of Cycling – Scotland’s biggest celebration of bicycle culture.

Central Library is hosting several events including visits by intrepid Swiss mountain bike-packer Gian Liesch, cycle law expert Brenda Mitchell, Papercut Artist Christine Thomson DA and Thompson Crowley, author of At home in the bushes: busking, bikes and the lure of the open road.

On top of this we’re getting quite excited about the Pedalling Past exhibition which will also be on show at Central Library – featuring prints from our own collections (including the one featured on the cover of this year’s festival programme) and one or two other surprises which we’re keeping under our hat for now… .

And if you follow @talesofonecity on twitter look out for our bike book of the day reading recommendations.

Find out what else is happening on the offical Edinburgh Festival of Cycling site.

Overcoming a reluctance to read. Part 1 of 6

by a dyslexic library member

I am a reluctant reader because I find reading difficult.  But I love books and am extremely motivated to engage with them. In this series of six blog posts, I would like to share some tips on overcoming a reluctance to read.  By the term ‘reluctant reader’, I mean anyone who is reluctant to read for whatever reason, including reading difficulties and dyslexia.

Who are these blog posts aimed at?

  • Everyone, whether you are a reluctant reader or not – what is good practice for reluctant readers is good practice for everyone else too.

What do these blog posts aim to do?

  • Help reluctant readers to engage with books
  • Show how easy and effective it can be to adopt an approach to books that uses your strengths and addresses your difficulties
  • Give information on library services and other resources

In a nutshell, what is the content of these blog posts?

  • 7 ways to overcome a reluctance to read
  • some booklists that can help reluctant readers
  • how to recommend books using booklists and reviews

Look out for next Friday’s post which will look at how using more than one format can help reluctant readers to engage with books.

Reading for a healthy mind

Whether it’s anger, anxiety, diet or stress, mental health issues affect us all.

Experts at NHS Lothian’s Mental Health Service have come up with this essential list of books for children, young people and families which deal with topics such as depression, Schizophrenia, OCD and bereavement.

You can also download the book list as a pdf.

You can also search Your Edinburgh to find more sources of advice such as useful web sites, charities and other organisations.

Ian Rankin and Jeffery Deaver at Edinburgh Central Library

Our latest Edinburgh Reads event was a real treat for crime fiction fans as the Central Reference Library played host to a discussion between bestselling US crime writer Jeffery Deaver and Edinburgh’s own Ian Rankin.

Ian spoke of a camaraderie among crime authors and this was evident as he and Jeffery shared anecdotes about the part libraries had played in their development as readers and writers.

It was illuminating to hear the authors talk about their inspirations and techniques. We learned that even though these writers had much in common they also differed in many respects, for example in their approach to giving their characters a hinterland beyond the case that is the subject of their book.

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A wide-ranging conversation took in many other topics including music, James Bond, award ceremonies and jury selection techniques for the O.J. Simpson trial.

Deaver also talked about the incident during a Greenwich Village Halloween Parade that was the spark of inspiration for his latest thriller Solitude Creek.

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The hour closed with questions from the audience about whether the authors read other novels while they were writing (Ian Rankin: yes, but not so much crime fiction) and their thoughts on eBooks (Jeffery Deaver: so long as people are reading that’s the main thing, but he does have a personal preference for the physical book).

We’re massively grateful to both authors for making this unique event so informative and enjoyable.

Check our event listings for details of forthcoming author visits.

Photographs: Andrew JL Ansell Photographic

Our newest book group takes reading to another dimension

sci fi book group

‘Alternate Fiction’ is a new book group dedicated to sci-fi, horror, fantasy and graphic novels.

If you’re keen to explore far away worlds and mystical realms filled with ancient creatures and epic battles please come and join us.

Our first meeting takes place on Tuesday 12th May at 6pm at Wester Hailes Library, and we’ll meet monthly after that.

If you’d like to find out more email westerhailes.library@edinburgh.gov.uk or call 0131 529 5667