+
upworthy
Joy

34-year-old man is learning to read on TikTok in series of motivational videos

His reading skills have improved so much that he plans to read 100 books this year.

oliver james tiktok, booktok, illiteracy in adults
@oliverspeaks1/TikTok

Oliver James is the biggest star on BookTok.

With over 125,000 followers, 34-year-old Oliver James is a star in the BookTok community. And it all started with a very simple goal: Learn to read.

For most kids, school is a place where they can develop a relationship with learning in a safe environment. For James, school was the opposite. Growing up with learning and behavior disabilities subjected him to abusive teaching practices in special education, which, of course, did nothing to help.

"The special education system at the time was more focused on behavioral than educating," he told Good Morning America. "So they spent a lotta time restraining us, a lotta time disciplining us, a lotta times putting us in positions to kinda shape us to just not act out in class."


Reading struggles carried over into James’ adulthood, and as is the case for many adults who are functionally illiterate, it significantly reduced his employment opportunities and affected his self-esteem. As he would tell you, even a trip to the grocery store would be a source of anxiety.

@oliverspeaks1 Even something as simple as grocery shopping is a challenge for me. #readingbooks #books #booktok #groceryshopping ♬ original sound - Oliver James

However, when he and his girlfriend decided to expand their family of three, James became determined to change things.

Starting his journey with a book of inspirational quotes gifted by his girlfriend, James began reading bits out loud and posting to TikTok. Being a personal trainer by trade and an aspiring motivational speaker, he would often combine his interests, like practicing planks while reading thought-provoking excerpts.

@oliverspeaks1 Motivational speaker to be. Learning to read. #motivationalspeaker #handstand ♬ Pieces (Solo Piano Version) - Danilo Stankovic

With his heartfelt honesty and exuberant personality, it’s no surprise that he has grown a loyal following. Fans will often send James more books to read in hopes for one of his popular book reviews. In fact, James has such an overwhelming to-read list that he's had to build his first bookshelf.

But perhaps the biggest impact has been the way reading has shaped James’ relationship with his son. In an interview with NPR, he shared that they've not only bonded over books like “Percy Jackson” and “The Witches,” but reading has proven to be a great resource for mental health, which has helped James become a better parent.

@oliverspeaks1 Replying to @thenerdysswer thank you for sending me the book the witches my son picked it to read and that was very special to our family. ##booktok##readmorebooks ♬ Monkeys Spinning Monkeys - Kevin MacLeod & Kevin The Monkey

“I didn't know how much my journey was going to affect him, but I see now it's not even about the reading. The books I'm reading have taught me about my mental issues, which I can now not put on to him. I can actually work on them, so he doesn't end up with the mental issues I have, because I can take them out of my household because I'm working on them. Without these books, I might have shown him these mental problems,” he told NPR.

James’ new goal is to read 100 new titles by 2024—ambitious for any bookworm in this day and age. But this man has already shown himself and the world just what can be done with simple daily practice and a dash of hope.

If you’d like to support James on his reading journey, you can purchase something from his Amazon Wishlist here.

Our home, from space.

Sixty-one years ago, Yuri Gagarin became the first human to make it into space and probably the first to experience what scientists now call the "overview effect." This change occurs when people see the world from far above and notice that it’s a place where “borders are invisible, where racial, religious and economic strife are nowhere to be seen.”

The overview effect makes man’s squabbles with one another seem incredibly petty and presents the planet as it truly is, one interconnected organism.

Keep ReadingShow less

Viral bookshelf hack is creating luxury closets on a budget

Peak adulthood is being envious of rich people's closets. There's usually some sort of full length couch in them or a luxurious chaise lounge, a wall of shoes and some sort of automated rack that spins to help you pick out a tie. They are amazing and the non-rich people typically have some wire racks in a small walk-in with no where to put shoes, bags or anything else that doesn't hang.

But people have been finding a way to revamp their normal closets to look like they were custom built and it's for a price tag that will make your budget happy. The Target bookshelf hack has been going viral on TikTok for several months as new people discover the trend and post their own before and after videos.

Users on the social media app are buying the tall $40 Room Essentials bookshelves from Target and turning them into custom closet builds.

Keep ReadingShow less
Science

A juice company dumped orange peels in a national park. Here's what it looks like now.

12,000 tons of food waste and 21 years later, this forest looks totally different.


In 1997, ecologists Daniel Janzen and Winnie Hallwachs approached an orange juice company in Costa Rica with an off-the-wall idea.

In exchange for donating a portion of unspoiled, forested land to the Área de Conservación Guanacaste — a nature preserve in the country's northwest — the park would allow the company to dump its discarded orange peels and pulp, free of charge, in a heavily grazed, largely deforested area nearby.

One year later, one thousand trucks poured into the national park, offloading over 12,000 metric tons of sticky, mealy, orange compost onto the worn-out plot.

Keep ReadingShow less
Joy

Teen with autism makes record-breaking Jenga block tower, inspiring Hallmark holiday movie

15-year-old Auldin Maxwell, who stacked an astonishing 1,840 Jenga pieces all on one single block, says using them helps tap into his creativity.

Canva

Maxwell hold two Jenga-realted world records

At the ripe old age of fifteen, Auldin Maxwell is already breaking world records and inspiring Hallmark movies.

Maxwell landed his first spot in the Guinness World Records in November 2020, when he successfully balanced 693 Jenga blocks all on top of one vertical facing Jenga block.

Only four months later, he broke his own record by stacking 1,400 Jenga blocks onto one vertical block, more than doubling the original amount. He then broke the record for most Jenga GIANT blocks (500) stacked on top of a single vertical Jenga GIANT block.

Keep ReadingShow less
Internet

Are women actually quiet quitting their marriages? Women say not so much.

Men are often blindsided by their partner filing for divorce while women prepare for months.

Photo by Eric Ward on Unsplash

Women push back on claim they're quiet quitting their marriage

By now everyone's familiar with the term quiet quitting. Doing the bare minimum of your job requirements to not get fired but don't really go above an beyond to secure promotions or pay increases. The term has been applied to areas outside of the workplace as well, specifically dating relationships but in a recent Newsweek article, it's expanded to marriage.

Except, Newsweek's article and accompanying video are implying that the quiet quitting of a marriage is more prevalent for the woman in marriages. Statistics are pretty indisputable—nearly 70% of divorces are initiated by women and men, according to the article are often blindsided by the filing.

In the case of quiet quitting marriage, the wife often continues to do the daily responsibilities of a partner and continue having a sexual relationship while planning their exit. But are women actually quiet quitting because women have other opinions on the matter.

Keep ReadingShow less
Family

'This isn't how it's supposed to be': Family with ‘good jobs’ lives paycheck-to-paycheck

“Go to college, get a degree, work to support your family. Here we are. Did that. Now what?”

A mom in Pennsylvania is having a hard time getting by even though she has a good job.

There’s a specific trait that exists deep in the American collective psyche that suggests that one’s financial well-being is somehow a reflection of their moral compass. Many people assume that if someone struggles to get by, they don’t work hard enough or make poor choices.

But that knee-jerk reaction couldn’t be farther from the truth. There are countless reasons why hard-working people struggle, especially these days with historically high inflation. Just about everything costs an arm and a leg.

For many, the sharp increase and costs forced them to go from being comfortable to getting by paycheck to paycheck. In addition to the financial stress, many feel stigmatized because of their struggles.

Keep ReadingShow less