- Books, Literature, and Writing
How Reading Will Get You Laid
Why Literature is Sexy Again
Student: "This is dumb. Why do I need to read A Midsummer Night's Dream when I'm a business major?"
Professor: "Chicks, dude... Chicks."
It's a question brought up in every educational setting: why do we need literature? Students everywhere realize the necessity of basic grammar rules, but they often draw the line when professors start forcing them to read (fiction especially). Today's academic culture emphasizes pragmatism above everything else: learn this trade, technique, operation, formula, etc. for this job to ensure success in whatever job you seek out. Nonetheless, colleges and universities across the nation still incorporate the arts into virtually every core curriculum. I take it upon myself to explain the advantages every student (not just English majors) can gain by continuing to read.
1) People Actually Understand You
Ladies, I'd like to present a question to you all. How are you typically wooed? I will venture to guess that most of your romantic advances come via text messages or facebook encounters. Let's face it, most men are more comfortable expressing a thought that they can proofread before sending it to a woman. We understand that physical speech often betrays us in unimaginable ways. I once told a girl I had just met that her hair smelled of pickled eggs. Typing things up allows us to psychologically mull things over before shooting ourselves in the foot.
Meanwhile, regardless of sex, no one enjoys reading an indecipherable text. Once you begin college, start texting like a grown-up. Most reading done by teens before college is through text message or facebook, which causes them to virtually forget what real English looks like. Try reading actual literature for a few minutes, then go back to your jumbled mess of words. If you aren't a little ashamed of your work, feel free to quit reading this article. Just remember that no one wants to read what you write if they can't read it in the first place.
2) You Seem More Interesting
Odds are that if you read something that has gone from someone's brain to a piece of paper through a publisher and eventually into a book which you find yourself reading, that original someone is more interesting than you are. Who are we to disregard this person's thoughts (unless it's Sarah Palin's book, disregard that)? If we live our only life in a little bubble of our own perceptions, which we logically think are the best, we ultimately become what most refer to as a "douche." Cultural jargon notwithstanding, just know that no one likes a douche. Therefore, instead of forming some random opinion and sticking to it, read something--preferably by someone without some kind of a screen name on a message board.
There are tons of people with amazing ideas, thoughts, experiences, and advice attempting to have their voices heard. And for every one of them, there are countless others ["douches"] that seek to fill the internet and the public domain with frivolous nonsense (freerepublic.com and the like). We like to share thoughts and opinions on everything, even if our thoughts and opinions are completely made up on a whim. You may ask, "But Jay, how do I avoid slipping into the douche void?" My answer, inquisitive reader, is to read stuff.
You don't recognize the different between useful writing and wasteful crap without stumbling upon them both. While there are a few tell-tale signs, such as grammar, cited sources, and overall attractiveness of the writer (point - Jay), that immediately designate one or the other, the more your read about a certain topic, logic indicates that you will ultimately see past the crap. Meanwhile, if you just happen to see some tweet from a buddy and accept it as a legitimate statement of fact, then you're headed down the road to douche-ville.
Fact: Every woman swoons when a man quotes Shakespeare to her (Look it up). Meanwhile, we have to ask ourselves why this fact is even so. If you remember my second point that reading literature makes you seem more interesting, the fact is that Shakespeare is more interesting than you, me, and virtually every person breathing today. When we are able to quote the great writers, thinkers, or general badass-ers of history, the perception is that we are somehow on par with that person. We understand that person. It doesn't make us Shakespeare, but the fact that we know it places us in a realm away from those who don't know anything about great literature.
It's like any major skill a man will learn to impress the finer sex: guitar, parkour, mustache maintenance, Call of Duty (chicks dig those, right?). Granted, knowledge of certain things are often considered sexier than others. The point is this: being able to understand the minds of the best writers in history inherently causes others to believe you will understand them.
4) Transcendence of the 9-5
The common work routine follows a rather simplistic formula. You get up to be at work by 9; count down the hours till lunch; get back from lunch and count down the hours till work ends; go home and lounge until passing out to start it all over again. This monotony is enough to send any human being to engulfing themselves into the fictional worlds of The Big Bang Theory or re-runs of The X-Files. While water cooler talk tends to favor pop culture, I'll pose a thought to you all: name the most psychologically stimulating conversation you've had over the past couple of years. Was it over whether Donovan McNabb could still cut it in the NFL? Did it include an examination of some cliffhanger ending to a TV show? I'm guessing a negative on both of those.
If there is one aspect that every adult deems important in another, it is conversational ability. Forget meeting a person of the opposite sex, if you aren't able to carry on a conversation that doesn't center on World of Warcraft, good luck even finding a job. The point is this, great conversations revolve around things you don't think about or see on a daily basis. The best conversationalists are able to see beyond (to transcend) the monotony of a full-time job, and these are the same people who read. Literature allows a sense of escapism that doesn't include the looming poop/penis joke, eventual boob shot, or unrealistic hokum found on television. Great writers allow us to actually see into the minds of both the authors and the characters, which allows are world to shift slightly. These people see the world differently, and it comes out in their conversations. Why? Because their worlds have been colored by others who see it even more differently.