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Why English Majors Can’t Read

This past week I met several new people at a church event, and the topic of books frequently came up. Though the worst question to ask an English major is “what is your favorite book,” it seemed to be the most popular. Despite resulting in a list of books (including commentary) rather than a single title, the introvert in me was thankful for a topic I could easily discuss. And people were happy to discuss books with me! Apparently I have found a church for writers.

I learned something interesting in these conversations. For readers and writers alike, everyone agreed that the Christian Fiction genre needs improvement. They often avoided the books because religion was forced down people’s throats and the characters were so flat. In one conversation, a girl discussed a favorite series from her youth that she recently reread. She was concerned that the male love interest ignored the protagonist for three books until suddenly the characters were engaged. She said a girl deserved both a good guy and for him to be interested in her, not one or the other.

Bookshelf BlogI was pleased that people who hadn’t studied English had many of the same concerns for books that I learned as an English major. After all, being an English major tends to ruin a person’s love of reading. After studying the craft of writing for several years, I can’t open a book anymore without judging every sentence for full descriptions and realistic characters. It’s hard to enjoy reading because I can’t stop myself from rewriting the books along the way. I’ve met many English majors who have the same problem. Once an English major learns to read critically, it is hard to return to that imaginative world that caused them to fall in love with reading in the first place. It’s comforting to know that the audience has the same concerns.

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