The books we college students read can be seen as a self-portrait of today’s era. What would our self-portrait look like? Let’s think about certain books we have read before. Interesting science fiction? Romantic novels? Probably some people cannot even remember the last time they read a book. Based on the number of books borrowed at one college library, ranked from 1st to 50th, a famous science fiction novel took both the 1st and2nd ranking while other types of novels were in the top ten. The next most well read books were related to economics, business, and self-help. This statistic shows that reading habits of today’s students are concentrated on simply 2 genres. These 2 types include entertaining books that provide psychological reassurance, and practical books that meet today’s academic requirements such as knowledge of economics, business, and self-help.< Copyright © The Gachon Herald All rights reserved >
We should adjust the types of books we read. As college students, instead of simply reading ‘easy to read’ recreational books or practical books, we need to delve into the humanities which play a role in guiding our life. It is true that even though we have heard about the importance of the humanities many times, we keep thinking that the humanities is complicated, boring and unrelated to our current lives. The book, I’m a Stranger in humanities, speaks to this problem. The author understands our unfamiliarity with the humanities and introduces us to the charm of this field. Even the book title seems to suggest our bewilderment with the subject of humanities.
I’m a Stranger in Humanities relates humanities to our daily lives. Let’s think about our classrooms. When a teacher asks students, “Does anyone have a question?”; usually nobody raises their hand and the classroom is filled with silence. Why is it like this? Were we always like this? The answer is no. The author takes us back to the time when we were toddlers. When babies are two or three years old, they frequently use interrogatives like “Why?” or “What?” And they don’t simply stop there; they keep on asking. At first, parents answer all of them, but as time goes by, they often get annoyed and try to avoid their child’s questions. This happens again when children go to kindergarten or elementary school. Since one teacher has to take care of many students, bombarding a teacher with questions annoys classmates as well as the teacher. As we enter middle school and high school, we unwittingly realize that asking questions is not regarded as something favorable in our society.
Disappearance of the word “why” indicates the loss of our imagination since imagination derives from being curious and asking questions. The author points out that in order to approach humanities more efficiently and deeply, we need to find our lost “why”. In Herbert Marcuse’s, One Dimensional Man, he describes all the obstacles that confine humanistic imagination. Even though Marcuse is not living now, with the help of his philosophical ideas the author addresses some of the causes of today’s problems.
The author believes that the humanities is closely connected to our daily lives, and that humanities separated from everyday lives is nothing but a block of fossil. An important part of studying humanities is not just about acquiring knowledge, but about brooding over it. Enumerating knowledge disconnected from reality cannot bring any change to our lives. This book does not divide the humanities into different categories nor does it explain the classics and people in each category. The book attempts to look for the answers to the questions we ask in our lives. Through this process, the author approaches answers by referencing classical texts, paintings, movies, dramas, and documentaries. He does not simply inculcate knowledge to readers but tries to talk to them. This book does not explain banal humanistic concepts but helps readers approach this field more easily. The book tells why the humanities is needed in our lives, provides a new point of view, and shows the humanities in our real lives. If you are hesitant about approaching, let’s open the door to humanities with this book.