Discovering Books

Discovering Books
Richard Wright, in his essay ?Discovering Books,? explains how reading books changed his outlook on life and eventually his life itself. The first book that widened his horizons was an overtly controversial book by H. L. Mencken. I have a story not so dissimilar from his.

Coming out of High School, I had in my possession the perspective that I knew everything. So I started, straight off the bat, working in a variety of menial jobs, which would have lead me to a dead end, for as the good jobs in today?s society required college degrees. So, after working for two years with a white-collar full of frustration, I decided it was time to take matters into my own ink-stained, carpal tunnel syndrome-stricken hands. I immediately gave my two-weeks notice, and pontificated about going to college.
Headed along the yellow brick road towards the registration office, I was intercepted by my malevolent manager, the ?Ineffable John? as he was called by my fellow co-workers, and he said unto me, ?Michael, you don?t want to go to college, stay here and you shall have bestowed upon your unworthy head all which you need to know. Here, fill up my coffee cup.? With his words still echoing in my mind, I wanted to sprint down the hallway, pole-vault over the cubicle prisons, hurdle the water ration cooler, and dive through the double-paned sliding glass doors. This spectacular display of athletic ability would have been terrific, but the ball and chain still shackled to my ankles would have slightly hindered my escape.

One week after my pre-resignation notice and John?s wise words of discouragement, my manager?s secretary, Mary, who just had a baby earlier that day but wouldn?t take unpaid sick leave, approached me and said, ?Don?t listen to John, college is a sure ticket to get out of this galley, otherwise you?ll end up having a baby and coming to work on the same day because this company doesn?t provide maternity leave.?

A week later I was walking out the double-paned sliding glass doors and into college life.

In the counselor?s office, my counselor advised me towards taking a psychology class, seeing as it is a requirement for an AA degree, and because I did not know what sort of degree I wanted at the point. So, I agreed to take the class.
Bob Rice was the eccentric instructor of this introduction to the wonderful religion of psychology. The required reading text for the psychology class was ?Psychology? by David Myers. I had never read a book as interesting as this. Ideas of fruition and speculation perforated my narrow, fragile shell of an outlook towards society. I was not only enlightened by examples of our cultural and gender diversity, but also of the similarities that define my human experience.

I delved into the possibilities and theories presented to me by psychology?s perspectives to try to explain people. I realized that there was so much more to the outwards appearance put on by them. Take the Ineffable John, for example, my manager from corporate hell. I now have a hypothesis as to why he was so up tight and controlling over my co-workers and me. Through reading the chapters in the book, I came upon a section describing the theorized stages of human development. It seemed that John was overdeveloped in the controlling, or ?anal? stage, which caused him to have an anal-retentive, over controlling, attitude. I also concluded that Mary, John?s secretary, had an anxiety disorder that prevented her from realizing that she, in actuality, hated her job, causing her to have a reaction formation that disguised her hatred as love.

My reading of psychology book had created a vast sense of understanding a general outlook on life, living, and interaction with different people. It had given me a sense of connecting with other people. The textbook changed my narrow, ?holier than thou,? pre-college mindset, to an analytical listener, able to reason and diagnose other people?s perspectives, no matter how screwed-up they may be. Without the religion of psychology, I would be adrift in the present, in the wreckage of yesterday, and in the nightmare of tomorrow.

Discovering Books 9.7 of 10 on the basis of 2592 Review.