One morning in 2001, Canadian novelist Howard Engel woke up to find that the words on the page had turned to gibberish and he could no longer read. His story reminds us just how important reading is to writing.

NPR tells Engel's story in this lovely animation

Nearly every list of tips on becoming a better writer suggests you should read as much as you can. So imagine being a writer and not even being able to read your own books.

If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.”

— Stephen King, <i>On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft</i>

Engel's word-blindness was caused by a stroke. His brain could no longer process the shapes of letters and words and assign them meaning.

NPR reports that Engel was eventually able to teach himself to read again – by using his tongue to trace the shape of letters on the roof of his mouth.

It's an amazing story, one that makes me grateful that I can see the words on the page and determined to get through more of the books on my reading list.

I'm going to start with Engel's memoir – The Man Who Forgot How to Read.

From notebook

Case study

About us

Small by design

Because Polon is a small studio (run by Matt and Janet), there are no layers of account management – you get to work directly with a writer.

Find out more