Oct 27, 2014

Reading Is Not A Career Skill: Or Is It?


I noticed that I had “reading” as a skill on my Linkedin profile. Who puts reading as a skill on Linkedin? Seriously, the last time I told a prospective employer that I liked to read I think I lost the bid for the job.

Curious about reading as a marketable job skill, I punched in "reading as a skill" in the Linkedin search engine, and I got 3,987,983 hits. Certainly most of these hits correlate to “Reading Teacher” or “Reading Stories” and not necessarily to barebones reading.

Lots of ink has been spilled about reading. And most of it good. PSA's love talking about reading! Hey, frigging Harry Potter loves to read. And I think there is a wonderful PSA of Meryl Streep reading a book.

But I guarantee you if you walk into a workplace and see a guy reading a book I bet you a million buck his supervisor’s going to think: “that guy’s not doing his job.”

Hell, when I was a high school English teacher, I think when I brought a book to lunch, or was caught reading during my planning period, I could swear I got the suspicious eyes from my principal.

Maybe I should have been grading papers. Or, something.

I never realized reading as a skill until I started to write for money.

See. Reading is good when you’re a writer. One of my clients needed some copy on the recent Jeff Koons exhibit at the Whitney so I wrote a five hundred word blurb so he could paste it to his blog. Simple.

I think he was impressed. I guess reading the Arts section of the Times paid off.

I like to think there is a special part of my brain that I like to call the Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations catch pan of useless but fun tidbits gleaned from years of idle reading.

I swear there must be a part of my unconscious that tags quotable quotes when I am reading.

It’s weird because I’ll be writing something and an appropriate quote that matches what I’m writing triggers in my Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations catch pan. It’s uncanny.

Now these are the days before making notes on a Kindle.

Now all my memorable quotes are memorized for me by Amazon’s cloud service.

But it takes years of reading to build this skill set.

And I am not sure it is a skill set.

Until I get paid for reading, I am thinking of deleting “reading” from my list of attributes. It’s like one of those secret skills. You tell someone you’re reading, and they look at you like you’re from the get-go critiquing their non-reading.

There’s all this garbage circulating that the Internet squashes reading and replaces it with information pawing.

Now, I have a Feedly, bookmarks, and I paw the Web just like any other troll, but I also take time to fucking read. I mean sustained reading. Like reading for more than forty-five minutes without clicking backspace.

I honestly don’t understand all these Internet cleanse people. They complain they don’t have time to read, and they are all nostalgic for those days when they curled up with a book.

Maybe it’s easy for me because I take frequent local commutes on the New York City Subway System.

Until they install wireless access — that they have been doing in the nicer Manhattan parts — I will be content with reading unmolested.


Image Courtesy:  distinctdisciples

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