I was going to write on a dark subject and got about halfway through and left for a while to catch a movie. Even got a nice deli sandwich from a local joint and of course the coffee on the way from the theater. I mean seriously have I not had my coffee here at the desk while writing? I’ll answer that for you just in case you were actually wondering. Nope. I have two major vices in life that I couldn’t imagine being without; books and my coffee. Only two of the best inventions ever known to man. Except for maybe my Kindle that holds all of my books.
The subject I was going to write about today or ramble on about really was how reading has gone by the wayside. To be honest, though I think maybe there is a little truth to this thought. I see the results of people who don’t read like we used to. Something so simple as combining letters into words and then trying to link them up into something coherent doesn’t seem so hard. Or is it? At work just about everything has a sign on it with the price in large bold print that you can’t miss if you wanted too. The catch is sometimes in the fine print that people like neglecting to read until they have to pay for their stuff. Case in point the beer on sale last week required that they buy $25 worth of groceries in addition to it but not including the beer to get the beer at the sale price. Or how about the week before when the deal was that they had to buy two cases for the reduced price of a whole five bucks. Trying to explain that to some people after they already got in line, had to wait five minutes for the person in front of them, and missed the text that came in because they had to pay me for their two items. This whole thing above got me thinking which sometimes can be a little dangerous. Especially, if I’ve had way too much coffee for my own good. I swear I’ve only had one pot worth today.
The American culture has gotten a major case of ADD and simple reading has gone out the window so to speak. I should know I am one of them for a good part of the day until get home and crack open the case to my Kindle and find my little friends I like to call books. Some of you will get this and some of you may not, but that’s totally okay. Every now and then we find a book that is just so good that we have to tell just about everyone we come into contact with. Am I right? One such book for me was Ready Player One by Ernest Kline that I read about a year ago and just loved. A lot of times I would just get a glazed look from people as I tried to explain the plot. In some ways, it is just like trying to explain to a customer why their beer is still full price. You just can’t do it justice without just saying something to the effect of just read the damn book or sign in some cases. Oh, wait reading isn’t cool anymore. People will just say I’ll go watch the movie instead. For those of you living under a rock, Ready Player One comes to the theater near you at the end of March. I’m planning on seeing it, but I am glad that I read the book. It was fun and reminded me of many things from my childhood. That might not be the case for those of you that didn’t grow up in the 80’s and 90’s where Kline makes generous use of the pop culture references of the time as the glue for the entire story to work.
I believe that one of the most well-known authors sums up my thoughts on this better than I can. Most if not all of you have read the book Fahrenheit 451 either by choice or because you had to for an English assignment. I think for most of us it probably was the latter. For me that was true and even had to do a book report on it. I seriously doubt that the kids in high school now have to read the book. Reading old books isn’t cool anymore.
“You don’t have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them.” Ray Bradbury
Bradbury may well have been right when he said this. When I tell people I generally read somewhere between 60 and 70 books in an average year. I get an astonished look as if I had just climbed Mount Everest. Maybe if I told them I did climb it they would be more interested in that false story I’d have to make up on the fly than telling them about the last book I read the week before. Some of you probably deal with more this first hand than I do, but schools don’t push reading like they used to like when I was a kid. They are so concerned about having warm fuzzy feelings that great books that everyone should read get thrown to the wayside for easy reading politically correct modern literature that I fully believe we are doing them a disservice. These kids hit college and haven’t learned how to read and retain it in a real English course where being able to explain a book is paramount to your grade. I am not implying that happens all the time, but it is happening more often now. What I am trying to imply is that over time we are dumbing down our culture to the point where books have to cater to it. I seriously doubt the younger crowd would even know who George Orwell or Aldous Huxley is or even know what their seminal works are without going to Google. It just makes me sad since their works like Animal Farm and A Brave New World respectively are amazing pieces of literature and still as relevant today as when they were written.
Well, I think that takes care of this weeks ramble that took on more of a tone of a good old fashioned rant. Plus, I just ran out of coffee – again. For those of you that had TLDR moment seeing my longer post than usual and skipped to the end just to see what I actually wrote about are making my case for me. Reading isn’t cool anymore. In that light, I’m going to go get my Kindle and go read a book so I can write about it later. I have to face the fact I’m a reader and totally fine with not being cool. That is outside of work where I spend a lot of time in the freezer. Also, do yourself a service and go read so that Ray Bradbury can be proven wrong. A small bonus for those of you that made all the way through here is the most recent trailer for Ready Player One.