Notre Dame
High School

Lawrenceville, NJ
School Life
The Voice

Reading Might Make You Feel Unintelligent... And That's Okay

Laura Bedser '19

Not every book is easy to follow. Classics, with their flowery language and dated dialect, can be especially confusing. One of the most intimidating things about reading is fearing your own capability to comprehend the plot of a complex book.
It’s okay to be confused or to not like a book. If something’s not your brainchild, it might be difficult to fully understand, and that goes for nearly every form of creative work.
Books are open to interpretation. Remember that sometimes the author is to blame; they know their world too well, so they assume the reader would understand something that, in reality, was not clear in their writing.

An adult I know had to stop reading
The Bear and the Nightingale halfway through, start from the beginning, and make a concept map of the characters and storyline to fully understand it. The only reason she bothered was because a close friend recommended the book, and she wound up really enjoying it. There’s a stereotype that people who read are smarter than those who don’t. That stereotype can deter people from reading, leading people to convince themselves they’re not intelligent enough to understand a certain book and it’s not even worth trying to read.

That’s not true. If you commit yourself to analyzing paragraphs, rereading and charting the book as you feel is necessary, you can understand more than you think you will.

I’ll let you in on a little secret. I adore reading, and I’ve struggled many times to follow a plot. Sometimes I carefully analyze the text, and sometimes, I honestly don’t have the time, so I move the text aside an go to something else for the time being.

If you don’t enjoy breaking down a confusing text (that you’re reading for pleasure, school books are a different story), then don’t! Even if you do put in the work and still don’t understand a text, it’s okay to put the book down and read something else entirely.

You should never let confusion push you away from something you don’t initially follow. Reading might make you feel unintelligent sometimes. Instead of letting that be a deterrent, we should recognize that confusion is not indicative of our intelligence. Comprehending different viewpoints, time periods, dialects, and even fictional worlds expands our minds. Being able to work through confusion while reading takes conscious effort, but it is a skill that nurtures the growth of empathetic human beings.

Notre Dame High School

Located on 100 beautiful acres in Central New Jersey, Notre Dame High School, founded in 1957, is a college preparatory school for grades 9 - 12, preparing young men and women for lives of purpose, built upon a foundation of Catholic faith, with a commitment to academics, co-curricular activities and service to others.