Utne Blogs > Literature

Literary Stockholm Syndrome

by Will Wlizlo


Tags: literary Stockholm syndrome, reading, long books, The Millions, great writing, Will Wlizlo,

bookcover1As a former English major, I’ve slashed my way through tons (literally) of books. The aggregate weight of your literary explorations becomes a sort of status symbol on campus, with extra-shiny merit badges awarded for the really heavy tomes—the Ulysseses and Infinite Jests and David Copperfields and The Count of Monte Cristos. From a semi-serious academic perspective, this logorrheaic one-upmanship makes a sort of professional sense, but that doesn’t explain why thousands of non-scholarly types cart along dense snoozers like War and Peace or Les Misérables or Anna Karenina on their sandy vacations when they could actually be having fun. Mark Oconnell has a theory: Readers have Stockholm syndrome.

bookcover2Oconnell chronicles his conversion from reading thinner, second-tier literature to hulking beasts of literary burden over at The Millions.

bookcover3Are we to pity such bibliophilic prisoners? Not if the twisted devotion helps sail them through literature’s masterpieces. “Ulysses might treat us like crap for seemingly interminable stretches of time,” continues Oconnell,

Source: The Millions