In March of 2013, I graduated from the University of Washington with an English Language and Literature degree. I’m not bragging—not exactly. I have a soap-box routine for when family members or business majors or bio students ask me why I chose to be an English major—and this is neither the space nor the platform for that discussion. Is it however, the perfect place for a little honesty.
Don’t get me wrong: I made the right choice. Being a English major has prepared me for more life moments than I have the time to explain here—rest assured that every successful job interview, every proud moment of eye contact and conversation I’ve had with a respected adult, and every molecular resume re-write was a direct result of being an English major. I know how to communicate. I know how to present an idea to a board of my peers or superiors. I know how write. And…I’m an assistant. But, hey! I know how to write!
Okay, so writing. Also reading. (This is where it gets good. The part where the hoity-toity English major gets off her high horse.) The writing part I always had a handle on—which means I must have been pretty good at the analyzing literature/reading-between-the-lines part, right? WRONG. We were taught to break down a chapter, a sentence, a word, an apostrophe. We were also taught, not by a teacher, mid you, that bullshit will go a long way in a 10-page essay.
Fact: I’m actually bad at reading. I’m just really good at bullshit.
I have a huge bookshelf. It’s ones of those built-in shelves, so it’s literally over six feet tall. It’s six feet by 4 feet of shelving. It’s pretty awesome. I have over a hundred books on that shelf. And I have read maybe 30 of them.
On the surface, I look the part. I write on this blog. I have a degree. I have opinions about e-readers. I take literature quizzes on Buzzfeed, and I always do well. I own hundreds of books. You walk into my room and you see this huge bookshelf, and there’s this intimidating feeling, and you think, “Wow, she must read a lot.” You see the classics, you see Harry Potter, you see Margaret Atwood (although for the record I’ve read all the Harry Potters and at least three of my Margaret Atwoods).
But I don’t read a lot. I wish I did—I wish I knew War and Peace as well as I know The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. I have all of Shakespeare’s works. I have Gabriel García Márquez, and Wallace Stegner, and Faulkner. But I’ve never read them—I just like to have them, to know that I should have them. As an English major, as someone who’s education revolved around literature, I should own all these novels. In an ideal world, they’d have dog-eared pages and worn covers, but hey.
I can’t win them all.
Am I a hypocrite for owning these books and never reading them? I can’t be alone. I can’t be the only person who doesn’t read all the books she wants to. What about you? Do you honestly have the time to read the books you want to read? Because if you do, I’d love to know how you do it. And if you’re like me, and you need a place to commiserate, comment below or email me at email@example.com.