What bothers me about today’s society is not primarily the fickleness of our generation, but the fact that so many people are content merely to skate on the surface. That they are content not to delve into the deep stuff, the good stuff, the heaviness of life that paradoxically makes it feel lighter.
What frightens me most about today’s world is not just the death of literature, but the death of the mindset that goes hand-in-hand with those who have long ago fallen in love with words.
And I do worry about the fickleness of our generation. One minute we’re obsessed with something, the next it’s dead to us. Within 140 seconds (or characters, take your pick), we are suffused with excitement, exhilaration, borderline obsession, and the next… it’s gone. So what’s to blame for that – is it our social media practices, rapidly deteriorating attention spans, or a brain-numbing combination of both?
Whatever the cause, I do know that I refuse to join in. I may tweet and post on Instagram with the rest of them, I may Like and comment and reblog and scroll with abandon, I may even sometimes get lost in the dustiest, most laser-cat-gif-infested crevices of the Internet (like any other normal denizen of contemporary society), but I refuse to give up literature.
Frankly, books are our last saving grace, and you can read into this as the sleep-deprived musings of a former English major, or you can choose to see it my way. (And if you are at all curious, I would highly recommend the latter.)
But just in case you’re not convinced, here’s what you’ll realize when you date a girl who reads – and why you should deign to pick up a new book of your own every once in awhile.
We’re the creative type.
We lose ourselves in other worlds on a regular basis, and when the outside world is just too loud or crazy or hectic or stressful, we know exactly what to turn to. So dust off that thick volume you never got around to finishing, or crack open the as-of-yet creaseless spine of that fresh new bestseller hot off the shelves of an airport bookstore you just couldn’t resist purchasing. While you're at it, be sure to reread that torn and dog-eared tome you still just can’t get enough of.
We’re not afraid of a little peace and quiet.
Sometimes it’s okay to shut up and enjoy the silence. Awkward silences are… well, awkward – but we know that they don’t always have to be. Plus, if you can never just sit still and be quiet with someone, how do you know you really enjoy their company – or they yours?
If you can’t enjoy someone’s presence without the constant need to fill it with mindless chatter, you’ll never know if that connection is actually real. That’s how a girl who reads would see it, anyway.
On that note, we’re good listeners.
I can’t think of a bigger turn-off than someone who constantly cuts others off or talks over them in conversation. It’s sad that this has pretty much become common practice, but then again, we do live in a society that is quick to belt out zingers on Twitter and not so quick to sit down and really pay attention, word for word, to what someone has to say, whether it’s important or not.
And we’re all guilty of this, myself included; our daily scrolling habits are far too pronounced not to be.
How many of us have brunched with a friend we haven’t seen in forever, only to spend the entire conversation quickly calculating what our responses will be, instead of truly listening to what the other has to say? Way too many, I’ll tell you that.
…and we can hold our own in a deep conversation.
We know how to read between the lines; we’re well-versed on our Hemingway, Keats, and Kerouac. (And I would never leave out the early feminists. If you ask me, everyone needs a little Plath and Sexton poetry-related knowledge under their belt.)
Sometimes we can get a little pretentious about it, sure – hey, I went to college in San Francisco; I cannot fully be blamed for any and all pretentiousness – but if you’re interested, we can school you on any number of random literary facts and tidbits.
Like how Keats was a die-hard romantic and died at the age I am now, for example. Sigh. They just don’t make ’em like the Romantic poets anymore...
Speaking of literary references, we will randomly whip them out at any given moment.
Think of it this way: If you never read The Odyssey and/or have next to no knowledge of Greek mythology (much like, I’ll face it, most people in today’s sadly illiterate society), then you’re in trouble.
We will always have a larger vocabulary than you at our disposal.
Do not try to beat us at this game. You will not win.
We can’t stand when someone scoffs at the thought of opening a book and says, “I don’t like to read."
I shudder at the thought. Have you ever perused – or even thought of picking up – Fahrenheit 451? (If not, you probably should.) And no, I don’t mean way back when it was on your high school curriculum and you browsed through it for a couple minutes before getting bored and hitting up Spark Notes.
Oh, that’s right, you don’t read… It’s not like you missed Bradbury’s whole point about a dystopian futuristic society that seems to be scarily not unlike our own, or anything.
We’re old souls.
While the rest of you came into the world shiny and new, we were practically born vintage.
Our love for libraries is strong, and the struggle is real.
Don’t even get me started about how much I (still) love libraries.
Libraries, and the smell of old books, will forever remind me of when, as a child, I first discovered the magic of a library card. At first I was stunned by the thought – what do you mean, I can go into this magical place and come back out with a stack of books taller than I was? What do you mean, I can take as many novels with me as I can carry, and all for free?
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the death of libraries and bookstores is a scary, scary thing.
We are the heroines of our own lives.
While we may or may not be looking for love, we’ve certainly taken a page out of the books of our favorite heroines (and yes, that pun was fully intended, and you know it). After years of spending time with our noses in between the pages of so many novels, we’ve learned many things, but none so important as the fact that you should be the heroine of your own life.
Every day you are alive is another day you spend writing your own story. So what story do you want to tell? Do you want to be a headstrong, independent, brave, and free-spirited woman, much like the women of many a famous tale? You know, the ones whose lives and stories will be forever remembered by history? I know I do.