In defense of boring books

When I was still a student, I’ve heard more than one friend complain about textbooks and how they can’t wait for the break, to be done with textbooks and finally be able to read the more interesting, “meaningful” books. As a booklover myself, I understand where the sentiment is coming from, though I strongly disagree with the rant against textbooks.

The defendant in this unfortunate case is the type of book that is cited in college course introductions, the kind of book that straight-faced, soft-spoken academics would enjoin their new students to get a copy of. (And they’re invariably expensive, so the resourceful student might go hunting for the requirement in Morayta and Recto; but, more likely in this day and time, the student will just look for a pirated PDF copy to download to his laptop or tablet, or to be copied from a friend’s USB stick.) The textbook is the usually-thick tome with the straightforward title, such as “Sociology,” or “Financial Accounting,” or “Film Art”. And while the non-textbook forgoes rigidity, being simply divided into chapters, the textbook is often crazy about structure: divided into sections, chapters, and sub-chapters; is decorated with boxes and sidebars; and often has end-of-chapter reviews, summaries, and exercises. The overloaded textbook wants it all, prose and poetry.

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