Read What Seems Awesome and Interesting

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The truth is that when you're super bored, your interest and understanding come to a screeching halt. There are many, many topics that I find interesting now which I found dull at some point in my life. Five years ago, there was no possible way I would have made it through The Power Broker, even if I tried to force myself. And it would have been a mistake to try.

Here’s another unspoken truth: Any central lesson you can take away from War and Peace can also be learned in other ways if that book doesn't really interest you. The same goes for 99% of the wisdom out there — it's available in many places. Unfortunately, too many English lit professors have promoted the idea that “the classics” contain some sort of unique unobtanium of wisdom. Sorry, but that’s bullshit.

The better idea is to read what seems awesome and interesting to you now and to let your curiosities grow organically. A lifelong interest in truth, reality, and knowledge will lead you down so many paths, you should never need to force yourself to read anything unless there is a very, very specific reason. (Perhaps to learn a specific skill for a job.)

This has been a truth for me for a long time. I don't like Shakespeare. Being told I need to read the "classics" to be cultured and smart always felt like bullshit to me. I prefer the works of H. G. Wells, Jules Verne, Edgar Allan Poe, Bruce Sterling, William Gibson, Isaac Asimov, Robert Heinlein, Frank Herbert, and Arthur C. Clarke. I found more connection with the characters and places of those tales than any character in any so-called "literary classic".

Author: Khürt Williams

Gen X-er near Princeton University in Montgomery Township, New Jersey, with a passion for aquariums, terrariums, technology, and photography. I love hiking in the woods, and my eclectic musical tastes span soca, Afrobeat, calypso, 1990s rap, grunge rock, and alternative genres.

2 thoughts on “Read What Seems Awesome and Interesting”

  1. Sparkyjen says:

    There are so many variations of what "cultured" and "smart" would look like, sound like, feel like, maybe even taste and smell like, it would boggle the senses if everyone on the planet tried to be in or out of those categories. Maybe the people who deem themselves worthy to judge, should go and take a gander at the varies dictionaries out here. There are almost about as many definitions as there are books on the shelf. And there are a lot of books on the shelf!

    1. Thank you, Jen.

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