Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Book Titles and Reading

There's an article making the rounds today that reports twenty-five percent of Americans surveyed never read a book, ever. I think that figure is low. My guess is that most of the people who said they read several books a year lied. Nobody reads. As a steady reader myself I don't blame my fellow Americans. It's not that they're stupid and lazy. It's the book industry that's stupid and lazy. Perhaps it's stupid and lazy because there's no money in it, but still you can't blame people for eschewing reading when most books actually suck. Here are examples of the sorts of books that currently occupy prime placement in Barnes & Noble.

People Who Are Not Like You are Stupid and Unattractive
This book is a humorous and incendiary commentary on those whose ideological values seem to oppose yours. If you are a Republican you will enjoy the book about whack-job commie liberals. If you are a Democrat you will enjoy the book about radical right-wing Republican war mongers.

One Word Title for Mundane Object, Material or Activity that Changed the World
Salt, alcohol, some species of fish that no one ever really liked, cocaine, soccer, are all placed in a global context in which their impact on the world and the universe is raised to the level of import previously held by the wheel, fire and the washing machine. If you like watching the History Channel Tony Soprano-style, you will probably find the paperback version of one of these books in your stocking at x-mas.

Embittered Memoir of My Employment
You know what I want to read? Two-hundred pages of noxious bitching written by a young upper-middle class person. I can cozy right up to that on a drizzly Saturday afternoon.

How the science of economics impacts on every element of your life, from the hotness of your wife to the likelihood that your daughter will one day be a bachelor party stripper.

A two-paragraph self-evident realization that was blown out to a 20,000 word magazine piece is further bulked-up into a 200 page book. Meanwhile, the author's hair grows stranger and stranger. Mysteries abound.

Mr. Tinkles and Me
What my pet rat taught me about life, love and punk rock while we hung around the Harvard Square Pit in 1989.

How to Do Those Things that Humans Have Been Doing Since the Dawn of Time
Can't figure out how to eat well? Get laid? Keep a girlfriend? Husband? Raise a kid? Buy a book that tells you everything you already know. Then you'll be a fantastic (father, girlfriend, boyfriend, mother, sibling or cook) you idiot.

No comments: