It’s Better to be Book Smart

You+are+more+likely+to+be+perceived+as+smart+when+your+surroundings+also+reflect+this+idea.+That+is+why+I+spend+the+majority+of+my+day+lounging+beside+a+stack+of+my+most+recent+reads.+

Photo by Sophia Mullins

You are more likely to be perceived as smart when your surroundings also reflect this idea. That is why I spend the majority of my day lounging beside a stack of my most recent reads.

Today’s world is filled to the brim with distractions. The use of social media and cell phones has become so over the top that kids tend to get swept away by them. Hours can go by before a teen even realizes half of their day was wasted scrolling on TikTok. This process is mind numbing. It’s dumbing down the younger generations. Good.
I start most of my days by packing my bag for school. I bring a lunch, my laptop, some folders and most importantly: as many books as I can fit into a backpack. The chance that I actually get to pull these books out is infinitesimal. It’s the dream that matters most. The idea that if there was downtime during class, I’m pulling Dracula out of my JanSport. While everyone else takes the free time to mindlessly scroll through videos they’ll forget about before lunch, I get to sit there and just look smart. The book is dreadfully boring and I curse the day that Bram Stoker decided to be a writer, but it is undeniable the feeling that comes from reading such a classic.
There is no denying what this feeling is: superiority. The complex only develops with each page I turn, and frankly I thrive off of it. How many books did you read this month? One? That’s cool, I’m on my fifth. I moved past reading John Steinbeck in the seventh grade, and each step forward propelled my ego. I made it a habit to always have a book on me. My car, my purse and even the bags I packed for sleepovers had reading materials in them. Have you ever pulled out a book in the middle of a sleepover? I did, and it was incredibly pretentious. I loved it.
My younger brothers are 14 and 15 years old. Most of their day consists of playing video games in their stale dark bedrooms. As I sit in an armchair downstairs, I can hear them squealing and barking orders into their headsets; it’s likely they are yelling at other 14 and 15 year old boys who also spend their days holed up in their rooms. I listen to them drum up adrenaline sweats over racecar simulations and just feel my ego grow. When my parents wake up, they’ll see me already downstairs with a book in my lap. It’s an immediate promotion to the spot of number-one child.
The only reason I get to feel so good about myself for reading is because no one else does. I’m not smarter than anyone else, I just know how to play the game. Somewhere along the line adults decided to associate books with intelligence. What I lack in the latter, I make up with in the former. If everyone in my class decided to read during a lunch break, then I wouldn’t appear even remotely special. I doubt I’d stand out at all. Until then, I’m left to take all the credit for being the most well-read in the room.