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Why? Well, sure, they pay me, but I also do it because it’s just so gosh-darned fun. I’ve been a nerd for Star Trek for as long as I can remember, having grown up in the 1970s and 80s watching reruns of the original series every weekday afternoon. Catching the gazillionth rerun of Captain Kirk fighting Klingons or whatever was the sole exception to my mother’s “homework and chores before TV” rule. To this day, I’m sure she thinks that hour could’ve been better utilized cutting the grass or cleaning our backyard pool.
When I graduated from high school, my parents gave me a study Bible for a present. It was packed with supplements: book introductions, historical information, a version of Strong’s Concordance, and best of all, hundreds of notes that sought to explain the Bible’s more challenging passages. All of it was intended to make the Bible more accessible.
I have had a long and fairly wonderful relationship with science fiction and fantasy. The first movie that my mother took me to was Transformers, all the way back in 1986. I was only eight months old, at the time, so my memories of the event are, well, hazy at best. She assures me that we had a great time, though—the two of us and the one lonely old African-American man sharing the theater with us—and up until the age of twelve I thought that God looked like a giant, blue helmet and sounded like Optimus Prime… but that’s probably a story best told at another time. The first movie that I actually remember going to see, consciously, was also science-fiction. It was Star Trek V, granted, but I think I can probably be forgiven for thinking it was awesome. I was, after all, only three years old.
“Nobody ever touches me,” a friend recently lamented. I could sympathize. In my 20s, I was in the same situation—unmarried and living far from my parents. As a teacher in a public junior high school even my job was strictly touch-free. Faculty were routinely warned against so much as placing a hand on a student’s shoulder, and once an anonymous co-worker filed a sexual harassment complaint against a single male teacher who sometimes stopped to talk to me on his free period. With no spouse and no nearby relatives, I returned untouched every evening to a quiet room and a stack of papers, often spending several days in a row without so much as a handshake of human contact.
Jenny Lewis’s latest album, The Voyager, dropped this week, but the video for the single “Just One of the Guys” was already making internet waves due to the inclusion–in drag, no less–of actresses Kristen Stewart, Anne Hathaway, and Brie Larson. I walked away from my four minutes at the screen feeling that Lewis had tapped into something pivotal and subversive about how we see gender.
Reading is kind of like repairing a bicycle. Kind of. For too long now my bike has been semi-operational. It has one brake that just doesn’t want to behave and all my attempts to fix it have failed. Why? Well it turns out that I haven’t been using the right tool. To get the bike working I need to use the right tool. And when it comes to reading, well, you’ve got to use the right tool—you’ve got to know what kind of reading to do. Here are seven different kinds of reading.