From “For English Majors.” I love this.
If you’re majoring in English, you’re learning a lot about how to read. Not just words on the page (you knocked that down in elementary school, no?). You’re learning how to read for sense and meaning. You’re learning how not to be thrown by long sentences or unfamiliar vocabulary. You’re learning to follow an idea from the top of the chapter to its end. You’re reading for style and to know what it adds to sense. You’re reading between the lines because you know there’s something to be found there.
We’re living in complicated times, and I can’t help but think they’re going to get more complicated and more difficult before some light shines in the distance. Getting some idea what it all means depends, in part, on learning from people who have some idea (not “pundits,” by the way). The ability to read, really read, undaunted by complexity, turn of phrase or length of thought, puts you in a position of making some sense of convoluted, technical and controversial ideas and events.
Add to your list of advantages: Clarity and reasoning (about complicated subjects), logic, expression and patience (with long passages). You don’t suppose we’d have any reason in work and in life to call on those abilities right about now, do you?