Are you intimidated by academic books? Me too.

This great little blog post, Smart Books vs Less Smart People, riffs on The Poetry Lesson and will make you feel better.

As the writer notes:

It’s undeniable that becoming brighter from reading is a glorious thing; a gift, a wonderful democratic alchemy that liberals go on and on about like it’s an elixir. However, in defense of the less-well-read everywhere, I can’t ignore the stage fright one gets when dealing with material that knows so much more than you do, stuff that’s so complex it’s hard to figure out where it begins let alone how to enter it.

But there is good news in the end and a cautionary note to be patient:

You’re already pretty smart if you’re brave enough to tackle interesting subject matter that stretches you further and asks you to navigate new terrain. Success at this can take time.

I couldn’t agree more. As a publicist at an academic press, I am called upon to represent books that are lightning years outside of my comfort level (Hypoelliptic Laplacian and Orbital Integrals, anyone?) and yet I frequently find myself reading and reading and reading on into books that are supposedly too difficult. Give it a try — start here or here or here.