While it is true that people are finishing their degrees in record numbers, many of our country’s most highly credentialed intellects are leaving the university system with one major deficiency: their memories of reading for pleasure have been wiped through a process known as assigned reading.
Assigned reading consists of digging through titles, that in-and-of-themselves are only semi-pronounceable, looking for quotable paragraphs somewhere in the footnotes between chapters 21 and 47. Some of today’s top graduate students have been under this heavy duress for years.
When I asked a sample group if they remembered any books they enjoyed in childhood, one group member stated she had a vague recollection of enjoying Charlotte’s Web as a child, but can’t say for sure because she wrote her Ph.D. thesis on the book’s author E.B. White. Now when White’s name is mentioned this poor doctoral student ducks into the corner and starts rocking back and forth muttering only the words “Some Pig.”
As a nation, we cannot just simply turn our backs on such an important part of our community! In a selfless attempt to put some joy back into the lives of these poor overeducated souls, I have created a guide to lead these intellectuals back to the water cooler of pleasure-reading. The following is my latest entry: Part Two of Five.
The Philosophy Grad
Good gravy this stuff is depressing! Do you realize this Kierkegaard guy died in his early 40s, but still found plenty of time to pen a cornucopia of titles involving intense existential crises? Is absurdity really all there is, even for the postmodern servant of an obtusely silent God? Easy now, don’t give yourself an aneurysm, don’t overthink it. You want philosophy? Why not learn the art of charming the barista at the coffee shop who was never fooled by the patches on your Salvation Army brand sports-coat?
What you had to read:
Works of Love by Soren Kierkegaard, The Will to Power by Friedrich Nietzsche, Metaphysics by Aristotle.
What you can read now:
Winner: The Art of Seduction by Robert Greene
Runners Up: How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie (after you seduce them, go ahead and throw them in the friend zone before they get too attached); The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and Philosophy edited by Eric Bronson (I know you true bibliophiles love your Steig Larsson … so why not use him as a gateway to explain that thesis your significant other called “unreadable”?)
RIFers and recent grads! How do you balance reading for school or work with reading for pleasure? Tell us in a comment!