Three years ago, Oliver James from Pennsylvania had great difficulty reading a few lines of a book. He told the Washington Post that he now devours book after book.
“I lied about everything”
“Growing up, no one told me how important school was,” James says. He was expelled from school and his condition increased compared to his classmates. This meant that until recently he was “virtually illiterate,” he told the newspaper.
“I didn't know how to act in the world,” he says. “I always had to pretend I knew I could read.” Shortly after graduating from high school, he became homeless, ended up in prison for a few years and moved from job to job. “I lied about everything.”
In 2020, he decided things had to change course. With the help of his girlfriend, he picked up a book — 365 Days with Words to Live By — and began working page by page. “Sometimes I spend a week working on one of these quotes,” he says. “It was very difficult.”
He slowly progressed and was able to read slightly longer sentences and later stories. “Why don't you share this with the outside world?” His girlfriend asked. James decided to talk about his low literacy on TikTok. This video shows you how to do it:
He now has 300,000 followers on social media and can also be hired as a speaker. “The best thing is when people tell me how I helped them start reading.”
Write a book
At the beginning of 2023, he set his goal of reading 100 books this year. 99 of them have now been released. He told the American newspaper that one of his favorites is Anne Frank's diary.
His big dream? Write a book yourself someday. “I never thought something like this would be possible for me,” he says.
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