Mikita Brottman wonders, just why is reading so great? It’s a solitary practice, one that takes away from time that could be spent developing important social networking skills. Reading’s not required for health, happiness, or a loving family. And, if reading is so important, why are catchy slogans like “Reading Changes Lives” and “Champions Read” needed to hammer the point home? Fearlessly tackling the notion that nonreaders are doomed to lives of despair and mental decay, Brottman makes the case that the value of reading lies not in its ability to ward off Alzheimer’s or that it’s a pleasant hobby. Rather, she argues that like that other well–known, solitary vice, masturbation, reading is ultimately not an act of pleasure but a tool for self–exploration, one that allows people to see the world through the eyes of others and lets them travel deep into the darkness of the human condition.
The Solitary Vice
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Mikita Brottman was born and raised in Sheffield, England. She has a PhD in English Language and Literature from Oxford University, and has taught in various universities in Europe and the U.S. Her main field of research interest is the pathological impulse in contemporary culture; she has authored and edited a number of books on this subject, including, most recently, High Theory, Low Culture. She writes regularly for a number of publications, both mainstream and alternative, and is also a psychoanalyst in private practice. She is currently Professor of language, literature and culture at the Maryland Institute College of Art.