Motivational and inspirational writer, Bryan Hutchinson is the author of several books about life with ADHD including the highly acclaimed, best selling "One Boy′s Struggle: A Memoir" and the author of the hilarious eBook that went viral "10 Things I Hate about ADHD"

Hate Reading? – An ADHD Syndrome

Post image for Hate Reading? – An ADHD Syndrome

This is a short excerpt of my forthcoming book 10 Things I Hate About ADHD – Laughing at Distraction.

How many times have you started reading and somewhere along the way you realized your mind drifted off and you can’t remember the last sentence you read?

How many times have you started reading and somewhere along the way you realized your mind drifted off and you can’t remember the last sentence you read?

Losing track

It’s so easy to lose track of what you’re reading when you have ADHD. What did the last page say again?

Don’t you hate that?

It is even worse if you have to start the book over from the very beginning again, and again, and again!

Love and hate and well, lost

Reading is one of the things I enjoy and love the most, but it is also one of the things I hate the most about ADHD.

I get lost when reading. No, I mean really lost.

Needle in a haystack lost! Amazon jungle lost! Where the Hockey-Puck am I? – lost!

I will start reading a page or a paragraph, or just a word, and then an hour or two, or even a day, week or decade later, I will slowly come back to reality and realize that I cannot remember a single thing I have read because my mind drifted off to fight evil aliens in a distant land somewhere.

Damn those aliens!

Book burning is not a solution

From time to time I will catch myself when I start drifting off, at which point I will return to where I last ‘remember’ and continue once again. This is a calm and planned action, but around the hundredth ‘restart’ I begin playing with my lighter and wonder calmly what pretty book flames would look like (doesn’t everyone?).

Alas, my neighbor is a firefighter and a friend, so it is not that he would frown upon my pyromaniac, witch-like book burning so much as that he would be too quick to come over and put it out!

How would I explain that the book would not let me read it or that I purchased it for entertainment and that I was going to get what I paid for no matter what?

No, of course I would never burn a book. Really.

There is way better punishment for a book that I can’t focus on long enough to read all the way through, and that is to quietly place it in a pile, never to be found again, ever. All of my books are in piles, all of them, I tell you!

I also love to hate self-help books

For people with ADHD self-help books are an addiction. We support an entire industry.

I dread going to the bookstore because I know I cannot leave without getting my fix. I tell myself, “Just one, only one. That’s all you need.” But the next thing I know I am carrying a bagful twice my weight and I have no place to put them. So I walk them home and pile them up wherever I can find space among my current piles.

I have decided that it is not about reading the books; it is more about having them. Even if I can never find them again, at least I know they’re there.

What? The same book?

You are a certified person with ADHD when you find several copies of the same book in your home, but you do not necessarily qualify if the book has an updated cover. After all, anyone could make that mistake!

-I hope you enjoyed this short excerpt. If you’re wondering why the book is not published yet, well, my wife calls it crastinating. Not sure what she means. Do you?

~Bryan

Checked out my new blog Positive Writer. Latest post: Stop Worrying About What People Think and Create Anyway ~Bryan

Andrea Nordstrom December 2, 2012 at 5:38 pm

Thanks for making me laugh once again, especially on this rainy Sunday morning. Best thing I ever did for my ADHD reading-inattentive brain was to start scanning and give up the motion that I have to read every word. The fillers make me lose my train of thought, but when I weed them out I can hang on to the main concepts much better. A testament to you Bryan, your writing never loses me!

Bryan Hutchinson December 3, 2012 at 8:53 am

Awwww, you’re so nice, Andrea. I agree, scanning helps me, too. However, when interesting enough I can hyper-focus on reading for a long time and that’s the other side of the coin.

Glen Hogard December 2, 2012 at 7:54 pm

Perfect, Bryan! I’m one of the lucky one’s who is a great reader (degree in English-Rhetoric and Writing), but the impulse to gather more and more “tools” via books is nearly irresistible. Not only books, but browsing for computer parts or software, or anything that has the potential to improve my functioning or is naturally interesting to my mind.

Like Odysseus, King of Ithica, I must be tied to the mast to resist the siren’s call: of more, better, interesting, useful, tasty, colorful, creative, brilliant, new, and on to infinity.

It’s not so much that reading is boring, but that our minds are so easily distracted: even from within and without our permission!

In healing emotionally if we choose to explore our “usually” dysfunctional childhoods, the temptation to “read ourselves into recovery” by buying books on the inner child, dysfunctional families, codependent relationships is so tempting and easy to do compared to months or years of doing the work that like ADD my shelves filled up before my reading caught up.

In our ADD world it’s not because we are avoiding reading because it’s difficult, but even when we try we cannot get the wild horses in our minds to cooperate and settle down enough to retain the words to the end of the page or even paragraph.

Bryan Hutchinson December 3, 2012 at 8:55 am

WoW Glen, well said. This nails it for me “In our ADD world it’s not because we are avoiding reading because it’s difficult, but even when we try we cannot get the wild horses in our minds to cooperate and settle down enough to retain the words to the end of the page or even paragraph.”

Betsy Davenport, PhD December 2, 2012 at 8:53 pm

There are plenty of good readers who have AD/HD. Apparently Glen is one, I am another. I have family members who have AD/HD and are great readers. Probably good reading ability is as heritable as AD/HD. I really really wish people would stop using their own experience to make vast generalizations. Science does the opposite: you take many, many examples of a thing and conclude something for a class of people.

Bryan Hutchinson December 3, 2012 at 9:43 am

Hi Betsy, I am happy you are blessed with good reading ability. I am, too. For me it is more about not being distracted by other things while reading or using what I read to create a daydream and then drift off there while still ‘reading’.

It’s great to hear you don’t have this type of distraction problem while you are reading, that’s awesome for you!

MarLa December 2, 2012 at 9:04 pm

Haha! This really made me laugh! i’m totally one of those people! It takes me forever to read a book!

Bryan Hutchinson December 3, 2012 at 8:56 am

Welcome to the “club”, Marla :)

janet December 2, 2012 at 9:08 pm

Bryan, I LOVED this!!!!!! ROWL!!! So me :)

Bryan Hutchinson December 3, 2012 at 8:57 am

Me, too, Janet :)

janet December 2, 2012 at 9:19 pm

Betsy, you are so much superior to those of us who relate and so quick to discredit us. We can’t sweep your floors. It is humor deary. Rock on Bryan!!

The Meaning of Me December 2, 2012 at 9:26 pm

This cracked me up, of course. :) This could be me. I love to read but even so, find it difficult to finish any one book. I have always had many books started at once at various locations around the house. Whether or not I can stay focused on what I’m reading just depends on the day – am I tired? Overstimulated? Too wound up? Some days I can’t get through a paragraph before I get distracted; others, I can sit for hours and hyperfocus on the book and the rest of the world disappears. And there are just as many other possibilities for all the days in between.

Thanks as always, for a good anecdote about the way our ADHD brains work!

Bryan Hutchinson December 3, 2012 at 8:59 am

Glad you enjoyed the post. I agree, this issue often is an issue of maintaining attention and focus, not necessarily a problem with reading itself.

Alicia December 2, 2012 at 10:36 pm

I actually devoured books as a child…it’s only now as an adult that it takes me ages to finish one. My mind wanders from the page now far more than it did when I was younger (back when my imagination was still in those early stages of development). Now I devour articles on the internet with the same voracity I used to read books with. They’re shorter and give more info more quickly. I still love to read, but adult me only seems able to get through a few good books a year! My non-ADD hubby is the opposite…he hated to read as a kid and now reads more books than I do.

Lisa @ The Meaning of Me December 3, 2012 at 3:26 am

Alicia, that sounds a lot like me – I absolutely inhaled books as a kid and even into high school. The older I get, the more difficult I find it is to sit and just read like I did. Perhaps it is because as adults we have so much more to think/worry about? More responsibilities and obligations that we can’t just shut out like kids?

Bryan Hutchinson December 3, 2012 at 8:59 am

Yeah, Alicia, it seems as we get older more things want and need our attention.

Alicia December 2, 2012 at 10:38 pm

(Can’t relate to the self-help thing though…I think I own maybe two of those. One of them, of course, is an ADHD self-help book.)

Edee December 3, 2012 at 3:40 am

I totally identify — love reading, am surrounded by books (many/most are self-help), have duplicate copies of the same book — and I struggle to remember anything I read. Most books have never been finished . . .

Bryan Hutchinson December 3, 2012 at 9:00 am

You have duplicate copies of the same book? Go figure, me, too :)

Lisa Howard December 3, 2012 at 4:25 am

yes this always happen to me I love to read but I will lose my place and do not understand want the book is about please give me some tips on this.Thank you Lisa

Bryan Hutchinson December 3, 2012 at 9:04 am
jennifer newhouse December 3, 2012 at 9:08 pm

Oh my goodness! what a great giggle for the day and unfortunately for some of us soo true! I am a hyper focus reader and will stay in my book for hours maybe even days if its long enough or my pile is big enough! I had to give it up when I traveled my poor husband needed someone to keep him awake while he drove! So now I knit, he says I can at least carry on a conversation now… My son however is the distractable reader, so much so that unless it is read out loud or he can do some thing with his hands while he listens he is either totally distracted to other thoughts or inadvertantly takes a nap! I won’t go into my collecting, (read addictive hoarding ) of books. Needless to say at somepoint some small town will inherit an intact library!

Debbie December 5, 2012 at 2:36 am

Wow, I find this so interesting. I first became interested in these websites because my son was recently diagnosed with ADHD. The doctor told me that many kids who have it have inherited it and the parents don’t know they have it until they are tested after their kids are diagnosed with it. I haven’t gone for testing but the more and more I read up on systems the more I relate. I love reading and can sit with a book for hours but have noticed many times I’ll read the same line, paragraph, page even over and over again before I retain what is said in it.

Bryan Hutchinson December 19, 2012 at 8:33 pm

You know, Debbie, you’re right, it is quite common for a parent with a child who has ADHD to later discover that he or she also has ADHD. After all, the child got it from somewhere.

Pete Sapper December 13, 2012 at 9:23 pm

Ha ha – I loved this Bryan. So nailed the frustrating aspects of that whole “reading” thing!

Thank God for audio books!

Bryan Hutchinson December 19, 2012 at 8:32 pm

I love audio books, too, Pete :)

Joan Brennan December 17, 2012 at 10:10 pm

Appreciated this article, Bryan, as I have had many students with ADHD who could not stay focused long enough to finish reading a page of text. They would often lose the text line or paragraph just as you described above in “Losing Track”.

It became necessary to create a tool for them that could help. That’s how the Reading Focus Cards were “born” that help struggling readers with ADHD and other issues.

Thanks for a great article here. It is SO right-on in terms of describing how children and adults of ALL ages frequently struggle with reading when ADHD is part of their lives.

Bryan Hutchinson December 19, 2012 at 8:31 pm

Thanks Joan, I agree there’s no age limit for people with ADHD who struggle with staying focused on reading. Maybe I need to get one of your “Focus Cards”!

Trasonda December 30, 2012 at 3:06 pm

What are reading focus cards and where do you get them or how do you make them????

Trasonda December 30, 2012 at 3:53 pm

This made me laugh too. I love to buy books. I have a house full of books. I rarely get around to reading them or I start and don’t finish. Did you read my blog on ning.com??? I have about 5 books I’ve started, yours being one of them, I finally finished your book, now on to the other 4, someday……….

I don’t think I’ve purchased double copies of books, but DVD’s now thats a story…….

Duke January 13, 2013 at 1:33 am

I absolutely hate reading. Text books, novels, manuals…I even have difficulty reading the Bible. But turn that book into a movie and you have my full attention. Oh yeah!

Atticus Dogsbody April 9, 2013 at 12:14 am

Why would the Bible be any easier?

Previous post:

Next post: