Lit Is Killing Us
It's time we stopped reading it
Look: we love to read literature. Waking up to Francis Bacon and eggs; a beer and a Franz Kafka at the ballpark; a fun lunch with the kids at Shakespeare Shack. It’s in everything from our quick-and-dirty skims at Cato Bell to our much-vaunted study sessions at the French Library.
No one may want to see how the message gets made, but that doesn't make the ugly truth disappear. And in times like these, when global writing is accelerating as never before, we can no longer afford to turn a blind eye to the consequences of reading lit.
Some sobering facts:
- It takes about eighty thousand gallons of water to produce just one pound of literature. Of these, twelve thousand are sweated out in the form of blood, and forty thousand are showered over the hunched frame of an exhausted, demoralized writer.
- Poets, those silly gooses who force feed strong emotion to produce their signature delicacy, foi gras, have been found to die significantly younger than the mean.
- High consumption of literature has been known to induce headaches, confusion, depression, mania, and a host of other symptoms. Heavy use has even been associated with major lifestyle changes.
- Most troubling of all, consumption of literature has now been definitively linked to mortality. People who read are more likely to engage with the world, feel things, do things, and think about things, all of which can lead to dangerous conditions like high blood pressure, hypertension, and an increased risk of heart attack or stroke.
Yet despite this wealth of empirical evidence, many of us remain stubbornly intransigent in our refusal to give up reading literature.
A major factor in this inertia is the active lobbying of the publishing industry, which consistently works to draw in both casual and heavy users with attractively packaged, aggressively marketed products. Very often, this literature is sold with full knowledge of its effects. In fact, publishers routinely tout the dramatic impact their products will have, promising longer lasting tears, deeper belly laughs, and more breathtaking insights as they refine and expand their offerings.
We can no longer afford to ignore the brutal effects this industry has on its supply chain. Many of us refuse to watch video depicting writers being viciously rejected, crying in a fetal position, or staring despondently at the ceiling for hours on end, but this is the suffering we choose to accept every time we pull up to a read-through.
Yet it's the ecological impact that is perhaps the most pressing concern of all. Writers account for five percent of the workforce, but do less than one percent of the work. In the meantime, they consume more than three times their share in vital resources like coffee, tobacco, scotch, marijuana, cocaine, burritos, pizza, heartbeats, and tears.
The net effect is a pronounced shortfall in productivity matched with an attendant overconsumption - the kind of vicious cycle that the biosphere simply cannot sustain.
As responsible stewards of the only planet we've got, the time has come to give up the deeply ingrained but ruinous habit of reading literature. Although it may seem outlandish, growing numbers of concerned citizens have already taken the plunge - and they've never felt better.
'I used to read a lot of literature because I grew up in one of those old-fashioned, Dickens-aloud-after-every-dinner kind of households,' says La Jolla, California resident Hope Connors, a boutique owner and activist who's been living literature-free for eight years. 'But as soon as I stopped reading, I felt so light and energetic, like there was nothing to worry about in the whole world. And just knowing that it's better for me AND it's better for the biosphere...I mean, it's just win-win.' She laughs. 'My skin looks so much better now!'
Get started by visiting NoReadin.org to find out how you can make the change to a happier, healthier, literature-free you.