What Would It Look Like To “Treat Reading More Like Sex And Drugs”?

What Would It Look Like To “Treat Reading More Like Sex And Drugs”?

In the ongoing crusade to encourage people to read, we’re often told how reading can transport people to new places and times, open new worlds to us, or give us a sense of “magic.”

Is there a more effective means of encouraging people to read staring us right in the face? Are there everyday activities people engage in all the time simply for pleasure — and might not reading be more alluring to people if they equated reading to those forms of pleasure?

British author John Lanchester thinks the answer is yes. He believes if we want to encourage people — and young people, in particular — to read more, there are two other things in life we should use as guides for how we read, or more to the point, how we go about recommending books to people.

What are these two things? Is it possible anything could get Calico, a notorious bookworm in the first place, to read more than she already does? What does any of this have to do with no-knock warrants and Southern Baptists? Find out in Calico’s latest post: What Would It Look Like To “Treat Reading More Like Sex And Drugs”?

by Calico Rudasill, Sssh.com Porn Movies for Women and Couples

sexy woman reading books photo

Read On…

From my childhood, I vividly remember being the target of campaigns designed to get people to read more – which I received with a bemused smirk as an 8 year-old, because I wasn’t sure it was possible to read more than I already did. Other girls my age asked for Barbie dolls for Christmas; I wanted a boxed set of the Chronicles of Narnia and/or The Lord of the Rings, because I’d worn out my original copies to the point the damn pages had started to fall out.

The effort to get people to read (and perhaps more to the point, to enjoy reading) is a sensible one of course, because reading enables so many other things in life – like getting an education, obtaining food at places where the dishes aren’t conveniently numbered and managing to take the right bus home from work on a consistent basis.

Reading Is “Magical” – Unless You Think Magic Is Evil, In Which Case, Let’s Go With “Fundamental”

The suggestions for how to get people to read are almost as numerous as the choice of genres available to readers. Some say should encourage the message that “reading is magical” from an early age, while others recommend reading books that are themselves magical

Of course, there are others who say reading books about magic, or books about wizard schools, or basically anything that isn’t Jesus, is downright sinful. My point is, there’s a wide range of opinions on this whole reading/magic connection, whatever I might think about it.

Scratch That: Reading Just Feels Really Good

One suggestion for encouraging people to read that I’d never heard before this week comes from John Lanchester, a British journalist and novelist whose books include The Debt to Pleasure and Fragrant Harbour.

In a recent interview with The Guardian, Lanchester said his “thing about reading is that we should treat it more like sex and drugs.”

As an advocate of both sex and drugs (and also of rock n’ roll, which Mr. Lanchester curiously did not reference in his suggestion), my curiosity was instantly piqued by this comment. What does Lanchester mean by it?

“Sex has proved health benefits, but that’s not the reason anyone does it,” Lanchester continued. “Drug dealers, when they’re trying to get people hooked they give them free samples and things that are immediately pleasurable. So with books, it’s anything that is pure enjoyment – that’s the gateway drug.”

Hmm. I need to give this suggestion considerably more thought before I decide whether to endorse or reject it.

I’ve Heard of Being “Hooked on Phonics,” But…

Like most analogies (or is this a metaphor?), Lanchester’s has its pros and cons. For starters, while I know it’s commonly believed that drug dealers hand out free samples to prospective customers (there’s even an excellent old Tom Lehrer song founded upon that belief), my own experience with drug dealers has not born out this notion. In fact, all the drug dealers I’ve known and with whom I’ve entered into transactions have been quite adamant that they are to be paid, for literally every last ounce purchased, preferably in advance of handing over said drugs to the customer.

To be fair, I think Lanchester’s main point here is that we should emphasize reading as a pleasurable thing, something one might spend their leisure time doing, rather than something they must do by 7am tomorrow morning, lest they score poorly on a quiz, or something. That notion I heartily endorse, without reservation.

“Drop the Kafka and Come Out with Your Hands Up!”

Still, part of me worries about treating reading too much like sex and drugs, because historically, many governments, religious faiths and random wingnuts around the world have been rather hostile to both those things. (Whether this hostility is despite the many pleasures afforded to us by sex and drugs, or because of those pleasures is open to debate.)

So, when I think about treating reading more like sex and drugs, many questions come to mind that give me pause.

For example, if we start treating reading like drugs, will the U.S. government soon launch a war against reading? Would cops soon be applying for no-knock warrants to raid the local library?

Similarly, if we start treating books more like sex, will Southern Baptists still teach their kids to read? Will people criticize comic books and graphic novels, which one might also call forms of “literary porn” for not being sufficiently “book-positive”?

The more I think about it, the riskier this whole “treat reading like sex/drugs” notion sounds. So, with all due respect to John Lanchester, I think we should probably stick with promoting reading as being “magical” or “fundamental” or “a lot more constructive – and legal!! – than smoking crack” just to be safe.

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