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/ October 21, 2011
The Benefits Of Reading For Pleasure

You should read for fun. And not because it will open your mind, or doors in your future, because I’m sure your English teachers have expanded on that at length. We’ve got some reasons that you might not have considered:

1. Legitimacy

If you tell me that you haven’t read Harry Potter, we might as well burn our friendship bracelets. But seriously, it is, on many levels, required reading. Before you move on to heavier material, you need a solid foundation of addicting-yet-morally-sound books under your belt. And when you can stomach the thinly disguised Christian doctrine in The Chronicles of Narnia or The Golden Compass’ atheist agenda, read those too. Read Harry Potter, if not to be my friend than someone else’s. I’m sure at least two other people on the planet are as narrow-minded and picky as I am.

2. Hilarity

Books are funny. Besides being middle-school-age-inappropriate, Sophie Kinsella’s novels (especially Can You Keep a Secret?) are literally LOL-worthy. You might recognize the name from her well-known series Confessions of a Shopaholic, but every self-respecting chick lit reader knows that her stand-alone books are gold.

3. Cute Factor

Guys who read books are hot. Though my reading-in-public gigs haven’t yet led to anything, I’m convinced that this is also true for girls. I don’t have any proof of this except for Season One of Gilmore Girls, and older men on the subway who ask me what I’m reading.

4. Smart Factor

Reading books, for the most part, makes you look intelligent. The line between intelligence and pretentiousness, however, is thin. If you’re just starting a classic, don’t take the book in public. Everyone can get through the first chapter of Wuthering Heights, but few people finish it. This doesn’t stop me from telling people every year that I’m just saving it for the winter.

5. Conversation Topics

Like facts on Snapple bottlecaps, books offer us conversation starters and fillers. A few examples: “You cried reading A Walk to Remember while you ate your floormate’s Goldfish on her bed? Me too!” Or, “I didn’t realize Jodi Picoult recycled plots until I read Nineteen Minutes.”

One particularly gratifying moment this week was when Lemony Snicket wrote about Occupy Wall Street and my friends finally stopped making fun of me for re-reading A Series of Unfortunate Events. Now that you’re older, you can appreciate a lot of the humor that might have flown over your head as a ten-year-old working your way through a shelf of hardback, yellow Nancy Drews. Here’s one particularly hilarious quote from The Penultimate Peril:

“But the three siblings were not born yesterday. Violet was born more than fifteen years before this particular Wednesday, and Klaus was born approximately two years after that. And even Sunny, who had just passed out of babyhood, was not born yesterday. Neither were you, unless of course I am wrong, in which case welcome to the world, little baby, and congratulations on learning to read so early in life.”

If you’re looking for more serious children’s lit, read one of the Newberry Medal winners. This comprehensive list includes classics such as The Giver, Holes, and some under-appreciated gems (Up a Road Slowly, the Twenty-One Balloons).

Also, it’s officially fall, and there’s no better way to spend a crisp autumn afternoon than by reading a book in leaf-filled Washington Square Park.

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