At age 12, my obliviousness was a survival instinct. As my peers experimented with make-up and clothes, I wore a sports bra to school, my hair frizzing into the stratosphere. Most days were spent doing what I loved best -- reading.
In Pride and Prejudice, the reward for meticulous critical scrutiny is self-consciousness, intellectual expansion and moral growth. Long before the invention of fMRIs, Jane Austen knew that close reading was good for the brain... and for the soul.