Looking back, the things I told students about the value of books were way too abstract. When I was a teacher, I didn’t realize that the cost of course materials had soared in recent years. I didn’t know many students opted out of buying required books altogether. I thought they simply believed they could do well in an English class without reading — and I had all kinds of theories about why they dismissed reading assigned literature as unimportant. In some ways, I might have been right, but, in others, I was flat-out wrong.