Friday 11 April 2008
Is reading actually sexy, as some claim?
I belong to a group on Facebook (yes, yes, I am a Facebookite, even though I'm 8-12 years older than its average demographic) called Reading is Sexy. This group has well over 45,000 members and unlike other groups to which people belong merely to display their allegiances, people post constantly on this group's wall and discussion boards.
In the photos section, which is also constantly updated, you will find some predictable photos of scantily clad, malnourished women pretending to read but the discussion boards' raciness is limited to exchanges like the following (which I've just made up, to protect the overly innocent):
Boy1: Do girls think guys who like to read are sexy?
Girl2: There r no cute boyz who like books in my school :(
Girl3: At my school too, sucks.
Girl4: My bf loves to read - so hot!
Boy1: I need to switch schools because girls here only go for stupid jocks.
It's cute, but no philosophical considerations of reading's sexiness are likely to be thrown down on Facebook's Reading is Sexy group.
It does seem to be on people's mind, though, especially since some chick on the Gilmore Girls (er, according to a friend of mine) sported a t-shirt claiming reading was, in fact, sexy. (Said t-shirt is for sale on the interwebs at www.buyolympia.com or sometimes at Type Books on Queen West).
My bro Roger sent me an article from The New York Times a week or so ago called "It's not you, it's your books." Check it here: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/30/books/review/Donadio-t.html
The main thesis of this investigative reportage is that what someone hasn't read that they "should have read" or what they have read that embarrasses their partners has a much more tangible effect on a relationship than actually having the same tastes in books as one's lover. In spite of all the evidence suggesting this negative relationship between bad books and failed affairs, however, the conclusion reached is that books don't really matter in the end, for love (can you hear the birds singing?) conquers all. ALL I say! If so, I wonder why the article author (some bird named Rachel Donadio) wrote this at all. It's like she had a real idea and experimental results to support it but Oprah or Dr. Phil or some other wank blackmailed her into altering her conclusions to fit some weird Hallmarkesque agenda.
I will say that I personally can't imagine dating most non-readers because books are so hugely important to me. I have met a few hot dudes over the years (back when I was single, of course) that I could converse with without the common ground of reading but they were rare - and hey, I didn't marry them and that's a good a reason as any to explain why not, I suppose.
But seriously, to me this is why reading is sexy: it shows that someone likes to use their brain in their leisure time. Someone who flat lines every night on 6 hours of TV is someone I can't imagine having a great conversation with. Yes, conversation is sexy, for all the obvious reasons but also because, when it comes down to it, we're all going to get old and infirm someday and talking will be our only remaining intimate activity. And that talking had better not involve discussing what Shayla did to Rod on Survivor 11,324: The Sand Bank off Sable Island last night.
Another reason why reading is sexy is that it shows someone is comfortable enough to be with themselves for awhile, that they don't need to fill up their lives with constant noise.
And another reason: someone reading a long-ass book has patience and patience matters a helluva lot in other, less, ah, intellectual situations. Ahem.
So, three points about why reading is sexy may not, in fact, prove to be the definitive answer on this important philosophical issue - but it's a start and I am going to apply for a government grant to continue these studies.
PS-Yes, of course, I have a Reading is Sexy t-shirt - what do you take me for?