Summer reading survival tips for dyslexics

Katie Harnett illustration

For me, summer vacation = summer reading.

But….I’ve got way too many books to read this summer, and not enough time. And I’m starting to freak out about it. Like many dyslexics, reading is something I dearly want to do — but find very tiring. Contrary to popular belief, it’s not always a pleasure to read on vacation.

Given that, I started looking for advice on how to achieve my summer reading goals. Something more concrete than just “read 5 pages a night” or “read something light.”

Reading less, reading smarter

I stumbled across How To Retain More From The Books You Read In 5 Simple Steps by Darius Foroux, and his words were an epiphany for me:

“You see, it’s about what you do with your knowledge, not about how much you have. Don’t read more. Read smarter.” ~Darius Foroux

He says that we should have a strategy when we read (something I’ve never heard before). And his five steps seem tailor made for readers with learning and attention issues:

How to retain more from the books you read in 5 simple steps

By Darius Foroux

1. Have a purpose: Only read books that teach you how to overcome your current challenges.

2. See yourself as a teacher: Don’t just ‘read’ a book. No, devour a book and talk about it with others.

3. Highlight & Make Mental Connections: The more connections you make between pieces of information in your brain, the better you remember it. I do that by making a lot of notes.

4. Visualize and imagine: What I like to do when I read is to have imaginary conversations about the stuff that I’m reading.

5. Immediately apply one piece of knowledge: There’s nothing sadder than a well-read person who holds himself captive by the four walls of his room. You must go out there and apply things you learn.

This is a verbatim summary. Read the complete, unedited list.

Foroux links to an interesting 2015 study by MIT about rewiring the brain, which is worth a look.

My summer reading strategy

I’m using Foroux’s list to prioritize my summer reading. I’m really interested in #1 – Have a purpose. I’m going to choose books that help me overcome a challenge or achieve something. And I’m definitely intrigued by #5 – Immediately apply one piece of knowledge (I’ll let you know how this works out!).

I have divided my pile of books into 3 manageable sections as follows:

1. My first priority is to finish reading Kyo Maclear’s wonderful memoir, Birds Art Life. I have been reading it on and off for a year. It’s relatable to my life right now, and I have much to learn from her experiences. As an added bonus — it’s full of illustrations.


2) Terence Dickinson’s NightWatch is definitely applied reading – I’m taking it to the cottage so we can read it together as a family and be amateur astronomers this summer.


3) I have a huge stack of books about dyslexia and neurodiversity to catch up on. OK, so I need to read all of these for obvious reasons. But that’s an impossible goal, so I will aim to complete two in this stack…if not this summer, than by the end of the year.


Watch this space for book reviews coming soon.

Happy summer!


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