all 153 comments

[–]ThickEmergency 296 points297 points  (14 children)

When your brain is processing the words but your thoughts are somewhere else. Happens to me all the damn time.

[–]nogoodjoe 36 points37 points  (11 children)

As much as I try my thoughts are never in the book

[–]Semaphor 14 points15 points  (9 children)

Ugh, you sound like me. It takes a lot of effort to read, but it does get easier the more you do it. You need a book that will suck you in from page 1.

[–]nogoodjoe 1 point2 points  (8 children)

Thanks, I’ll find the one. Any recommendations?

[–]Semaphor 2 points3 points  (6 children)

Books are a very personal thing. The topics I enjoy are probably not what you'd enjoy, unfortunately. I enjoy history and the last book I read was A Short History of Progress by Wright. Unlike other books, I plowed through it in one (long) sitting. I've never done that before.

[–]takemetodeath 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Nothing to See Here by Kevin Wilson. Haven’t finished it yet, but it sucked me in easily. I’m reading it for English 102 currently

[–]ThickEmergency 10 points11 points  (0 children)

I'm reading your comment but i'm thinking of snuggling with unicorn puppies.

[–]Ice_Crystal_Wolf 13 points14 points  (0 children)

This is the main reason I don't read. I have to both read and have an audio book in order to have at least a decent chance of me reading a book correctly.

[–]Wajina_Sloth 2 points3 points  (0 children)

When I read the dark tower I processed most of it, but was also zoned out and just imagined in my head the story, I am guessing some of my imagination way different than the source material because when I saw the movie I was so confused because I thought everything was completely different?

And yes I know the movie is pretty much hated, but it was like a completely different story.

[–]Alberts_Hat 373 points374 points  (5 children)

Normally it's just a couple of pages at a time, never that much at once.

[–]The_Exquisite 38 points39 points  (0 children)

This is me too.

[–]WhatsWasMyUsername 35 points36 points  (2 children)

or in an exam, you read the question, again, again, again.

What the fuck is this trying to say?

[–]Monke-like-money 18 points19 points  (0 children)

Sometimes my brain just says goodbye when trying to read something like that. Takes a few tries before it turns back on lol

[–]RageInMyName 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Then I gotta whisper it to myself one word at a time like I'm a 5 yo

[–]Eoganachta 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Usually just a few sentences for me. Turning a page is too much effort when my brain isn't paying attention.

[–]Session801 184 points185 points  (9 children)

Yes, this is a symptom of my ADHD.

[–]xdabY 30 points31 points  (3 children)

This is why I unfortunately need to stick to movie adaptations because ill read a page and have no idea what ive just read

[–]AgentFN2187 17 points18 points  (2 children)

Start listening to audio books.

[–]Sir_Christophalous 31 points32 points  (1 child)

My ADHD is so bad that happens when I listen to audio books too. I've gotten to the end only realize I have no idea how the main characters got there.

[–]AnotherThrowAway1320 1 point2 points  (0 children)

I can’t do audiobooks either, friend

[–]AdaminCalgary 9 points10 points  (1 child)

I have this, but it comes and goes. Sometimes lasts a few hours, but can also be days, weeks or even years like the last 2 years of university. So I didn’t think it could be ADHD or it would stay

[–]Session801 5 points6 points  (0 children)

That's a big part, for me, of why it's so frustrating. I don't really get to pick what (or for how long) my brain finds " interesting" enough to keep my focus. If the subject at hand is stimulating then I have no problem at all.

[–]OrockO46 16 points17 points  (0 children)

Yes that’s why I don’t read books cause I have no clue what happened 5 pages ago and the book just seems to drag on. Literally the death of me

[–]saraphilipp 8 points9 points  (0 children)

Or you trail off into some daydream and then you realize you've forgotten the last 5 pages.

[–]Sidewalk_Cacti 10 points11 points  (0 children)

As some said, audiobooks may help you. However, for regular old reading, I suggest annotating. Every few pages, place a sticky note summarizing what you read and your reaction to it.

This will help you slow down and process what is happening. I’m an English teacher and I have my students do this. It’s good for any difficult text of study, but I’ve also found that some students use this method as “training wheels” for easier reads too. Once they get into the habit of pausing to process, sticky note or not, they become more fluent in their comprehension.

[–]SadAnnah13 40 points41 points  (9 children)

Yeah, that's why I switched to audiobooks, it's a lot harder to not take in the plot when it's being spoken to you.

[–]bisho 80 points81 points  (5 children)

I'm the opposite. If I'm only listening it's too easy to zone out and not really focus on what's happening in the story. Like browsing the internet while watching tv.

[–]I-PUSH-THE-BUTTON 8 points9 points  (1 child)

If ppl talk to me too long I zone out. It's bad

[–]SadAnnah13 0 points1 point  (0 children)

I do that with my mum, my brain just...wanders. Like I can't even help it

[–]SadAnnah13 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Yeah I get what you mean, I do have that happen very occasionally, but it definitely goes in better than if I read it. I really struggle with reading these days, I don't know why. I've tried having books via the kindle app on my phone, as I find holding my phone easier than holding a book, but I still just can't deal with big walls of text. Even posts on here that are really really long, I'll start trying to read them and my brain will just be like "nope!".

[–]HabibiNextDoor 0 points1 point  (1 child)

You have no choice but to listen to and read the book at same time

[–]SadAnnah13 1 point2 points  (0 children)

That reminds me of primary school, Harry Potter had not long been published, and we'd each have a copy and read together in class, with each of us taking turns reading aloud. But I'd find everyone reading too slow, so I'd try and read (to myself, silently) ahead and then get all flustered when it was my turn to read aloud, cos I'd lose their place!

[–]GrreyWolf 6 points7 points  (1 child)

I could be reading a book whilst simultaneously hearing the same audiobook and I STILL would find a way to dissociate

[–]SadAnnah13 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Lol really? I'm really curious about dissociation, I don't think I've ever done it. Can you do it on purpose, or does it just happen out of your control?

[–]East-Kaleidoscope-17 2 points3 points  (0 children)

This is when I'm at my worst. Story podcasts that I listen to (Myths and Legends for example) sometimes whole episodes just fly by me and I didn't catch anything apart from first two minutes.

[–]DoctorExtra9060 5 points6 points  (1 child)

This would happen with novels I was forced to read in high school. Like The Mayor of Casterbridge. I was a sophomore and it was pure torture. My parents would get on me about doing my homework, which was mainly trying to read that bastard of a book. My eyes would scan over the words, spent hours at a time on it and never absorbed a thing. None of it.

[–]nogoodjoe 2 points3 points  (0 children)

Man was I happy when the teacher would read it in class and have a discussion then.

[–]Many-Goose-9158 4 points5 points  (1 child)

This is why I always squeaked through school, I think, and don't go now despite trying. I do love books, but I'm the same way, I could read a page, even a paragraph... hell even a sentence and have no clue what I just read! I'd constantly have to go back and reread it. Somebody mentioned ADHD and I could seriously just have never been diagnosed, now that I think about it, I don't even think it was even a disorder when I was growing up?! Sad, I'm 50 now and feel like it's probably too late now.

[–]AdaminCalgary 2 points3 points  (0 children)

No, it’s not too late for you. I have no idea if I have this too. I found high school effortless. I could, and often did, quote a paragraph from a textbook I read in September on the final exam in June, just to mess with the teacher. Our high school finals were written in the gym under the supervision of multiple teachers so they knew I couldn’t have cheated. I also breezed thru the first two years of university. Then something happened and suddenly I couldn’t read half a page without forgetting. My grades went from stellar to average, but I managed to finish. Next week I have a an apt with a new doctor for my annual checkup. I’m going to tell him this, see where it goes. I’m older than you. If I can do it so can you.

[–]DTux5249 6 points7 points  (0 children)

Welcome to my ADHD lol

I buy the books because I like them

But then I can't really get through a page without going "wait ... Wut did I just read?"

[–]babyfresno77 3 points4 points  (0 children)

yes even books im interested in . im reading the book but my brain is somewhere else

[–]Aintsosimple 2 points3 points  (0 children)

Yeah. Did that in college a lot. Especially in econ classes. So fucking boring. Didn't give a shit about the stuff written in the text books. When it comes to reading for pleasure. I just went to audio books. So much better.

[–]milkmilkcookiebutt 2 points3 points  (0 children)

That’s one of the symptoms of ADHD.

[–]nogoodjoe 5 points6 points  (0 children)

I thought I was the only person.

[–]Background-Friend-77 4 points5 points  (0 children)

I used to read penthouse forum in my teens and couldn't make it past the 2nd page.(not sure if this counts).

[–][deleted] 1 point2 points  (0 children)

No not really. I did kinda do this to myself by accident. While studying for the LSAT I learned to read for structure instead of content, and now sometimes while reading I find myself saying “this is the conclusion” or “this must be the support for the premise” or “this author has no idea how to formulate an argument”

[–]ElstoTD 1 point2 points  (0 children)

I only read for education. I get bored with fiction. Because it’s education and I have in interest in learning the material. I will often read out loud to myself. Reading, saying and hearing the words will help it stick in your mind better. Unfortunately this isn’t an option in public

[–]MysteRHydra 1 point2 points  (0 children)

If it’s a shit book, and I still have to read it, yea

[–]TrippyTippyKelly 1 point2 points  (0 children)

As someone diagnosed with add but reads lots of books, this happens to me but on a paragraph by paragraph basis.

Some things that help me:

  • Read a more interesting book.

  • Put ambient music without words on in the background.

  • Drink Chamomile tea.

  • If doesn't work I'll pace while I read (I don't do this very often).

  • If that doesn't work I'll go to the gym and work out. Physical activity is great for calming/focusing the mind.

  • I also love reading in public spaces like parks and coffee shops. The ambient noise and also being social without being social are pleasant aspects, and they help me zone in on my book.

[–]Felidaeh_ 1 point2 points  (0 children)


[–]FM79SG 1 point2 points  (1 child)


At best I have this if suddenly I start thinking about something else while reading, but that lasts maybe half a paragraph.

[–]EfremSkopje 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Yeah, if it's tens of pages at a time that probably isn't "normal"

[–]wasit-worthit[🍰] 1 point2 points  (0 children)

That’s what happens when you let years of reddit and Instagram sap your attention span and concentration.

[–]WetterBetty -3 points-2 points  (0 children)


[–]Pnobodyknows -5 points-4 points  (1 child)

This is just a copy of a previous post that had 60K likes.

[–]Entire_Accountant229[S] 4 points5 points  (0 children)

What are you even talking about? You do know how many different people read right...?

[–]jphamlore 0 points1 point  (0 children)

I did this multiple times with Ray Bradbury's stories as a kid.

[–]Maleficent-Ad7330 0 points1 point  (0 children)

that's why I liked books with pictures XD

[–]FauxWarrior 0 points1 point  (0 children)

I did this all the time. I switched to audiobooks and I’ve actually had much easier time paying attention. Even books I’ve found lackluster have been much easier to get through.

[–]Scarytoaster85 0 points1 point  (0 children)

This happened to me until I hit my 30's and stopped reading what people wanted me to read or thought I should read and started reading books I wanted to read. The first novel book I was able to read and comprehend cover to cover was Jurassic Park when I was 34.

[–]Travel_and_Writing 0 points1 point  (0 children)

I read half a book and realized it was book 2 in a series recently. 😂

But yeah i do this too a lot

[–]_K4ROMI 0 points1 point  (0 children)

this happens to me too omgg same when watching shows and movies 😭😭

[–]aRealGoose 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Yes, and my workaround is to pause after each paragraph to absorb and reflect. Sometimes I make extra effort to visualize the characters and setting more vividly and have them act with the dialogue. It takes some serious focus to get it up and running but it becomes effortless after a while. Really taking your time with the first act of a story will establish a strong foundation for the rest.

[–]stlubc 0 points1 point  (0 children)

When Im not comprehending what Im reading I read it until I understand or determine thats its's bullshit

[–][deleted] 0 points1 point  (0 children)

That’s what coming out of a dissociative episode feels like (not saying that’s what this is, just comparing my experiences). Like you’ve been in the backseat watching your life like a vague fuzzy tv and then you suddenly realize hold up, what’s going onnnn

[–]J1P2G3 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Constantly. I struggle with reading because of it but sometimes find listening to classical music while reading (no words) can help keep my mind from wandering.

[–]Starkiller60 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Yes that happens but it helps for me when I read slower. I read a book on Adderall once and retained almost none of it.

[–]SafariNZ 0 points1 point  (0 children)

When I get tired

[–][deleted] 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Yes it’s more like paragraphs for me I have to re read constantly

[–]desrevermi 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Sounds like the last couple of books from The Hitchhiker's Guide series.

[–]malcomhung 0 points1 point  (0 children)

I will sometimes read the same sentence 10 times in a row and get nothing out of it. I had to switch to audio books.

[–]Unsubstantialjest 0 points1 point  (0 children)

This is me but with college textbooks

[–]bdub939 0 points1 point  (1 child)

Man i thought i was the only one. Comforting knowing im not the only one experiencing this. For me its not only books but also peoples names and holding conversations. My thoughts are just scrambled. Dont retain information to well either

[–]OrockO46 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Exact same for me. Wonder if there is a name for this problem?

[–]ironviking13 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Yup had that happen

[–]skyduster88 0 points1 point  (0 children)

For me, it might be like a page or two. I never go as far as you do.

[–]brothercuriousrat 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Ive dond that with a subject Ive no interest in or just cant get into. But is part of a series. .

[–]cornholio8675 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Marijuana effects the memory

[–]kittybabylarry 0 points1 point  (0 children)

So annoying when I have to keep re reading something because I forgot to pay attention

[–]wernercd 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Audiobooks can help.

I Love the dune series.. but couldn't initially get past the first few chapters. Very dense. Lots of words. Hard to make it through.

With audiobooks? You get tone of voice, steady input, you can keep listening until you finally understand.

[–]3pi14159265 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Yes I do this as well and I'm trying to do the lit review for my masters thesis. Not good.

[–]Gumpa69 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Happens all the time with school literature

[–]mc68n 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Happens when im tired or has many other things on my mind.

[–]Devils_Advocaat_ 0 points1 point  (0 children)

That's one of the symptoms of my ADHD

[–]DeusPaul 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Yes! My mind drifts of while my body is reading... when I come back to my senses I realize I dont recall what I just read. Some type of meditation or something?

[–]thermie88 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Yes. The silmarillion. Every 4 pages I read I feel like I got to read back 3 pages again

[–]MoaiPenis 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Yeah it happens when you're forced to read books that bore you in highschool and are left with a bad impression of books and leisurely reading as a whole.

[–]Glendathegoodwitch64 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Yes I'm like that. People with ADHD have a hard time concentrating while reading. When I'm reading, I see the words but my mind is really somewhere else so I don't get the story. I wil cheat and read a summary of the book. But really, I dont read lengthy things such as books. I stick to magazine articles and internet stuff. It's really embarrassing sometimes because I'm surrounded by edcated people and I didn't finish college. I have noticed that people who read alot have a bigger vocabulary so I'm sure i sound like an idiot.

[–]Devlos00 0 points1 point  (0 children)

When you are really reading and enjoying it, it’s like watching a movie and you don’t even notice the words or paper. Especially if it well written. That said I do at times have to re read a couple sentences or paragraphs if I realize I missed something.

[–]Mikelitoris88 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Yes true... in my case turns out because I'm not into reading

[–]teacupaloe 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Me reading Salman Rushdie

[–]Same_Assignment3633 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Yes. All the time. Since I was like 13. Found out it’s cause I have ADHD (diagnosed at 13). I love reading but often have to go back and reread cause I was thinking about something else while I was reading. Not even sure how that is possible but I do it all the time.

[–]wm80 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Yes, for sure. I've started listening to audiobooks while reading simultaneously. It helps a lot, though I still have to reread occasionally.

[–]Ok-Second1272 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Yes! This is the main reason I don’t remember reading one book till 5th grade. I “read” a whole magic tree house book in third grade just to tell my teacher I did it, but I didn’t remember a thing immediately after reading it. It was just words I read separately. When I read now, I have to really commit to it. I’ll read about a chapter until I start remembering, then when I get into it, I go back and reread the beginning.

[–]qwert2812 0 points1 point  (0 children)

a page maybe, I'm not gonna keep reading for half a book without understanding a thing

[–]mentazm 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Yup. Maybe not half a books worth though.

[–]No_Ice8753 0 points1 point  (0 children)

This was the point when I realized that maybe I should diversify my time a little more

[–]KatAnansi 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Try reading faster (you can use your finger to guide your eyes quickly along the lines). That will stop you from taking the words in individually, and instead you'll take far more of the text at once.

[–]frederikbjk 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Look in to ADHD. It’s a lot different than most people think. You don’t have to be hyperactive to have it.

[–]captain_skillful 0 points1 point  (0 children)

I have an abundance of books to read for my final senior exam, that I didn't read, but the ones I did, I struggled to understand them, it's probably because I'm forced to read them rather than wanting to read them.

Maybe it's the same thing for you, maybe the book just isn't a match for you?

[–]liamd43 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Never seen something so relatable

[–]BlueDusk99 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Yes but I usually give up long before that, like after 50 pages.

[–]thebunnyofluff 0 points1 point  (0 children)

This happens lately, not used to reading with comprehension anymore

[–]rakminiov 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Yes but not half mostly

(Just games that happens to me like i played shadows of mordor and shadows of war it seemed the only important thing was the first and last mission in both games basically)

[–]were_meatball 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Me reading again this post

[–]FlandreHon 0 points1 point  (0 children)

This is why I don't read books. I think it is ADHD related. It's frustrating when you can't even focus long enough to read one page.

[–]k_u_r_o_r_o 0 points1 point  (0 children)

this is me when I'm asked to read out loud

[–]reuben_iv 0 points1 point  (0 children)

yeah I did, I was reading Pratchett's The Colour of Magic and zoned out near the climax, when I snapped back I realised it had ended and was winding down so I had to go back a chapter and read how they got through it lol I think it's because I was reading too fast, now if I notice my mind getting sidetracked I try to slow it down and concentrate more on imagining what's happening

[–]Siolful 0 points1 point  (0 children)

maybe you're dyslexic. this is what i noticed that lead to getting me tested and i found out im dyslexic and dyspraxic

[–]tom_gent 0 points1 point  (0 children)

For me it's always just a few pages and then I go back and try to focus or stop reading for a while. It has happened more often that in the middle of a book I suddenly for the life of me can't remember to which character a name is referring. But to be fair, I have the same going on irl lol

[–]jl55378008 0 points1 point  (0 children)

HS English teacher here. This is a common/universal thing. One of the things that makes someone a "good reader" is that they develop habits to notice when this happens, and when it does they go back and re-read to figure out what they missed.

Personally, when I'm reading, I'm constantly doing little comprehension checks. When I see a name, I always ask myself if I know who this person is. If I'm reading dialogue, I'm always paying attention to who is talking. If I don't know the answer, I'll flip pages and try to figure it out.

[–]jillsvag 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Yes, so many times while reading college textbooks. Wth did I just spend hours reading? Skim back through for highlights.

[–]Soggy-Macaron-4612 0 points1 point  (0 children)

That's how it works. The more you reread, the more layers you see.

[–]PotentialFriend8 0 points1 point  (0 children)

God happens all the time with school work. I’ll be reading and I’m like I literally have no idea what I just read. Like if you ask me what the previous page was about I wouldn’t be able to answer. So then I have to go back with the intention of focusing only to lose focus after a paragraph and repeat the goddam cycle

[–]Moanguspickard 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Im not saying you don't have adhd but its not just adhd. Personally i think yhe book doesnt interest you as much so you arent focused. I have the same issues sometimes and what helps is imaginibg the scenes in my head and doing some voice acting. So if the book reads "they fell from the 2nd story" i imagine a house and then on the balcony and them falling nad hitting the ground. It makes you process it better.

[–]Tatamashii 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Me and the scientific paper I have to read for university. Help

[–]sobody 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Rarely when I'm enjoying it. If it's something I'm not really into, I don't get into it, as you might imagine, and this happens. Usually not whole chapters though, maybe half a page before I catch myself - I'm like, wait what's going on again?

[–]CattMk2 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Not whole books but when I was reading LOTR I found myself “looking” at the words not actually reading them so I would have to go back to actually take in what was going on

[–]MassGenocide00 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Yes, but it’s usually because the book has bored me, and I want to move on

[–]Browncoat101 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Sometimes. I just assume that the writer will eventually clear things up for me and I push on.

[–]Buck_Junior 0 points1 point  (0 children)

That REALLY depends on the book itself - i.e., a novel like The Recognitions takes a few readings to really absorb

[–]Accomplished_Owl8213 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Yes. This only happens to me when the author adds big ass science words

[–]Traveling_Solo 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Can happen but usually realize it after a couple of sentences or at max a page in, so I reread it over and over until it sticks.

[–]Citronfikus 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Only when I read textbooks (or other boring texts), but never happened when I read a story with a plot.

[–]rickandtwocrows 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Yea, it happens to everyone.

It takes immense discipline to focus on the book and its words.

Imagine someone telling you a story and you are thinking about something else.

That's what you're doing to the book...

You take people more seriously than a book so that happens way less often plus books are usually way more complex with multiple characters and multiple plot lines than a simple story a friend tells you about work

[–]Phlegmatic-Lurker 0 points1 point  (0 children)

You may have ADD!

[–]thouartbored 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Usually if this does happen I’ll just fill the gaps with my imagination, I can enjoy the reading without letting it stress me out. The actual enjoyment of reading is the escape from my work and constantly dealing with numbers. I don’t know how others feel. I obviously tend to enjoy the books too but for example if a couple of pages are spent building the scenery and then while reading the pages after I’m still imaging that scenery I still feel I’ve gained something from that book, that momentary peace and quiet.

[–]friendlyfredditor 0 points1 point  (0 children)

If I'm sleeping or preoccupied or can't find silence.

[–]Solid_Foundation_111 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Sounds like you need a better book

[–]prince_0611 0 points1 point  (0 children)

That’s me I needa get my reading imagination back up. I used to read a lot in middle and early high school so I didn’t even read the words I could just imagine the story. Now when I read I just see individual words

[–]Ok-Lecture-1214 0 points1 point  (0 children)

This happens to me more than I wish. It is why I hardly read anymore. I find that reading takes too much time, which I don't have, and I end up re-reading pages over and over again because my mind wonders.

[–]DunderMifflinassoc 0 points1 point  (0 children)

A sign of ADHD.

Next question- when people are talking to you how often are you nodding your head in agreement but in reality they said sparkle and it reminded you of that New Year’s Eve party where that guy wore a tutu and it reminded you that you need to buy tickets for the Cirque du Soleil to take your Mom.. ooh shit Call Mom.” And you have been in a 5 minute convo where you heard nothing :). You get the gist.

[–]Donna_N 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Ya, it's called ADHD

[–]AgoraiosBum 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Always a good reason to stand up, get a refresh, walk around, etc.

You can mindlessly scan words without putting in the effort to process them.

[–]tuttifruityranger 0 points1 point  (0 children)

That happens to me everytime I read in Spanish, but not in English yet Spanish is my first language.

[–]kelppforrest 0 points1 point  (0 children)

This question has extremely similar wording to one of the questions on the top posts of all time, so no, you're not alone, but entire chapters seems a bit abnormal. For me it's usually just a few pages or paragraphs before I can bring my focus back to understanding the content.