Book review: On reading My Dyslexia, or five reasons I love this book

“This much is clear: The mind of the dyslexic is different from the minds of other people. Learning that my problem with processing language wasn’t stupidity seemed to take most of my life.” ~Philip Schultz, My Dyslexia

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My Dyslexia (2011) by Philip Schultz is on the top of my reading list for 2017. I’ve already read it a few times, underlining the good bits and reading it out loud to whoever will listen. And I will read it again, and again, and again.

Here’s why.

1. My Dyslexia is my dyslexia (and maybe yours too?)

Philip Schultz’s life is quite different than mine. He grew up in working class America, I in middle class Canada. He is a famous poet, me not so much. But his life with dyslexia — undiagnosed and without any learning supports for most of his life, pursing his dream to be a writer, and now parenting a dyslexic child — is so relateable that he could be writing about my dyslexia or your dyslexia.

It is strangely comforting to see yourself reflected in the pages of a book.

2. My Dyslexia is a compelling read — for everyone

My Dyslexia isn’t just for people with dyslexia. It’s a wonderful read for anyone who has ever struggled — and that is most everyone.

Schultz writes about living with learning challenges and anxiety, and how dyslexia has both hindered and inspired his creative process. He talks about the work of becoming a reader, writer and a poet; the importance of his mother’s unconditional love; and the difficult journey to self-acceptance.

“the kid at the dummy table is always going to be with me but i’ve learned to forgive myself the anxiety the simple things like anxiety cause. i accept it.” Philip Schultz, My Dyslexia

Add to that, this man has a way with words. Schultz is a Pulitzer Prize winning poet and founder of The Writer’s Studio.

3. My Dyslexia is a must read for dyslexics, and those who love us

How does it feel to be dyslexic? It’s complicated, right? I’m certain that no one else in the world other than a dyslexic person could truly understand the contradictions that come with this brain difference. But Schultz nails it.

“For reasons I’ll never fully understand, or perhaps don’t even want to, I dislike the peculiar, obstinate, slightly-out-of-control way in which  my mind behaves when I’m reading. I can never just sit down and begin reading, I must first trick myself into it by playing endless games of solitaire on my computer, or reheating my tea or taking another walk with my dog, Penelope…” ~Philip Schultz, My Dyslexia

The joy (or not) of reading

Another thing that Schultz nails is the complex relationship many dyslexics have with the written word and reading.

“Indeed, I love everything about books, except actually reading them. The act of translating what for me are the mysterious symbols of communication into actual comprehension has always been a hardship for me. I often read a sentence two or three times before I truly understand it…” ~Philip Schultz, My Dyslexia

The joy (or not) of writing

Schultz writes that his struggles with reading actually compelled him to pursue a career in writing — like a moth to a flame.

“I read word by word, sometimes congratulating myself on the completion of each sentence, each paragraph and chapter. Perhaps that is why it’s particularly hard for me to read anything that isn’t well written and moving; why I became a poet, because poetry is so compressed and is often beautifully written an moving.” ~Philip Schultz, My Dyslexia

4. My Dyslexia is easy to read

At 120 pages, My Dyslexia is a thin volume, meaning it didn’t take me two years to finish it. That’s good for dyslexic readers and for anyone who doesn’t have lots of patience or time for grand tomes.

It fits easily into a purse or nap sack, so you can take it on your daily commute (I always have it close by). It may be available through your local public library (I found it at the library here in Ottawa, Canada), and it doesn’t require batteries.

5. My Dyslexia is helpful and hopeful

This is not a polemic or a self-help book. Shultz is first and foremost a poet and, since writing this book, a reluctant hero. But by publicly sharing his story (and all the difficulty that comes with that), Schultz has helped increase dyslexia awareness and understanding…and given dyslexics a great gift.

And there’s more. My Dyslexia stands as concrete proof (if you needed it) that dyslexic thinkers can adapt to almost any challenge, and contribute much that is good in the world. Remember that the next time someone pegs you or your child as lesser-than. You, we, are decidedly not.

“We alone know the delight of what we are capable of. I believe this with all my heart.”~Philip Schultz, My Dyslexia

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Recommended age: adult

Philip Schultz reads from My Dyslexia

More…

My Dyslexia led me to Schultz’s Pulitzer Prize poetry collection Failure--a wonderful read. You can hear Schultz read the title poem here.

And, check out his article in the New York Times: With dyslexia words failed, and then saved me.

3 thoughts on “Book review: On reading My Dyslexia, or five reasons I love this book

  1. I will definitely read this book. I’ve often heard it said that it is too bad our brain doesn’t come with an owner’s manual. Well, perhaps that’s because it would take a set of manuals, not just one, and because each manual would need to be tailored to each owner. I’ll be putting this book in my set of owner’s manuals for sure (after a little tinkering). Thanks for this enlightening and enticing review!

    Liked by 1 person

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