What Is Reading?
Believe it or not, reading is something most people do everyday. You’re doing it now! Reading involves scanning text with your eyes in order to process the information the text contains. Congratulations! You just did some reading.
People read for all sorts of reasons. In the Dark Ages and earlier, you could only read to learn something, and usually you had to be a priest or a Roman consul. But ever since Johannes von Gutenberg invented the printing press, people have also read for pleasure and entertainment. Today, you can pick up Time, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, TV Guide, or any of a number of periodicals to get the “news” you can “use”!
And don’t forget books! Books are like websites without fresh, responsive content. People read books to experience fear, anger, love, peace, sadness, and other emotional states. Think about a book you’ve read.
What Is Sexy?
Have you ever looked at a person of the opposite gender—or maybe even the same gender, or an ambiguous gender—and become really distracted? Like you were angry and happy and impatient all at the same time? Then you know what “sexy” is.
Sexy is the most important thing a person can be, unless they’re a politician or a lawyer or a real teacher or a parent of someone you know. Human life continues and evolves through sexual reproduction, and sexual production is easiest between two sexy people. You might say, “It takes ‘sexy’ to make ‘sex’.” Just don’t say it at the office (NSFW)!
The qualities of “sexy” vary from era to era and from culture to culture. Some pre-civilized cultures, like the Kalahari Bush-people or Australian aborigines, haven’t even discovered sexy yet. But among the people that have, everyone agrees that sexy requires:
- The proper chest/waist/hips ratio
- Bedroom eyes
- A non-threatening voice
- Income above the poverty line, as determined by the Department of Health and Human Services and IRS Form 1040
- Vitamins and minerals
- Black clothing
- That certain je ne sais quoi
What About Books?
What about them?
Can Books Make A Person Feel Sexy?
Like I said, books can inspire emotional states in people. Those emotional states can be mistaken for the same feelings you get from a sexy person. Take this passage from Samuel Richardson’s Clarissa, or The History of a Young Lady:
In the same point of time that I saw him, he besought me not to be frighted: and, still nearer approaching me, threw open a horseman’s coat: And who should it be but Mr. Lovelace!—I could not scream out (yet attempted to scream, the moment I saw a man; and again, when I saw who it was); for I had no voice: and had I not caught hold of a prop which supported the old roof, I should have sunk.
Pretty hot, right?
And yet, despite the supple softness of their pages, or the film but yielding flexibility of their covers, you can’t actually have sex with a book. You can have a lot of feelings in a really awkward way that might remind you of sex, but the end result will be exhaustion, depletion, and damage to the binding.
Are People Who Read Sexier Than People Who Don’t?
You’d certainly be forgiven for thinking so, given that reading correlates strongly but not conclusively with a higher disposable income, greater leisure time, and well-exercised fingers, all of which are traits that sexy people share.
But note that all of the other traits of sexiness correspond to one’s ability to bear or raise children, which is the ostensive point of sex. Reading might suggest these traits, and it might even be made easier by them, but there’s nothing about reading that makes child-rearing easier. In a lot of ways, in fact, reading makes child-rearing harder! Imagine having to put down your copy of Recherche du temps perdu to give Junior his midnight feeding! Not very likely, is it?
So, since one can’t think about sex without thinking about babies, it stands to reason that readers aren’t necessarily sexier than non-readers. Readers certainly can be sexy, but that’s a complete accident.
So, Is Reading Sexy?
Well, you tell me, Gentle Reader. You just read this whole thing, and you’re not feeling very sexy right now, are you? Not even a little bit? No?
It’s okay. There’s a big Internet out there, waiting to make you feel sexy anytime you want. So don’t waste your time with silly old books! Get out there and do your part for the race—the Human race!