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“Are You Reading That for a Class?”

I’ve been wanting to write this post for about a week now. Mostly because I think it shows that college was worth something, but also because it makes me feel better about my degree.

I was at the urgent care one afternoon (nothing serious), I was sitting in the waiting room with Crime and Punishment on my lap. I wasn’t reading, but the book stands out pretty well on my lap with its black and white cover and because it’s a fairly well sized book. Well, one man sitting near me caught my attention and asked, “Is that for class or for pleasure?” I smiled and said, “For pleasure.” He looked surprised and said, “Wow, really? I can tell you that I didn’t expect that answer. I don’t meet too many people with a book like Crime and Punishment in their lap for fun.” I agreed and explained that I had studied English in college and I was testing out the Russians. He was impressed and told me how he had wished he’d taken a comparative literature course earlier in college because he really enjoyed it. We talked about books a little bit before I was called in to the urgent care. He told me good luck with everything and to keep reading.

I didn’t think too much about it afterward because I was worried about what might be wrong with my ailing body. But when one of the nurse’s asked me, “Are you reading that for a class?” I remembered the conversation. She reacted similarly, but more in line with what I normally hear: “Oh, wow. Not me! I don’t read much.”

Again, my nice conversation with the man in the waiting room went to the back of my mind until I had a doctor’s appointment a couple days later. First the nurse asked me if I was reading the book for a class and was pleased to hear that I wasn’t. Then, the doctor asked the same question and reacted well to hearing it wasn’t for a class. “I almost assume when I see a book like that…” he commented. He asked me about my degree and I was surprised at how interested he was in my English degree. “It’s such a versatile degree. You really can do anything with it,” he said. “When my kids get ready for college, it’s stuff like that I am going to discuss with them. The humanities can be a good way into many careers.” I’m ecstatic that someone has finally said this to me. I’m so sick of the “what can you do with that if you don’t teach” comments and the “wouldn’t you have been better off with something else” or “oh, well I suppose we need people in all sorts of fields…” comments.

When I was at work this week, one of my co-workers came in to talk to me and saw Crime and Punishment on my desk. She laughed and said, “I don’t think you do any light reading. I wish I could bring myself to read the way you do.” It made me feel proud, again, and justified my summer readings thus far. I may have left college with my degree, but my degree has certainly not left me–I continue to pursue English and push myself to learn and explore literature. I don’t want that to die.

  1. August 20, 2012 at 1:22 AM

    What a fun post! I’ve had “Crime and Punishment” on my to-read stack for quite sometime now. I wish I had the time to start on it.

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