I really had to give some thought to this topic: What is your favorite book of all time? What genre?
I got an English degree, so I have a houseful of books, along with a packed Kindle, and a library card. I love to read and write romance. But my favorite genre of all time--alas, one that my muse refuses to give me any stories in--is science fiction! And my favorite sci-fi book is one I've taught a few times: Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. Why? It's so damn prescient--like he was a time traveler who wrote this book, trying to warn us.
Do people read anymore?
I have a bumper sticker on my truck that's a Bradbury quote: You don't have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them. I've read research that says roughly 25-30% of adults haven't read an entire book during the past year. What do they do with their time? Watch some electronic device? Binge-watch forgettable shows?
Why read the book when there's a movie?
I've explained to students who complain about having to read a book when there's a movie version, that the movie is a passive form of entertainment--you can sit and drool on yourself while the images wash over you--and your brain goes in search of a snack, since there's no need for it to be engaged at all. A book is an intensely involving experience--you have to read and process the words, you have to imagine the scenes in your head, you hear the voices--and sometimes what you read, even if it's fiction, stays in your head while you think about it for a long time. It leads your brain along new pathways of thought. That's what I love about books! "Oh, but that's too much work!" the students whine. Yes, reading is work, but so is thinking--reading and thinking go hand-in-hand.
TV as the ultimate drug--no need for real life!
In Fahrenheit 451, written in 1953, Bradbury does what all good sci-fi writers do--he looks around at what is, then extrapolates into the future. He imagined not just bigger TV's, but entire walls of images and sounds that continuously stimulate the brain. Guy Montag's wife complains because they only have 3 walls of screen--she wants to do the 4th wall also, to immerse herself in the world of her friends which is what the characters on the screen are called. Parts are written into the speaking roles, and the characters will turn to the camera and speak directly to whom-ever has paid for them to use their name--so viewers can interact with the characters by saying their assigned lines. With the amount of time spent on screens these days, and the size of today's flat screen TV's, how far off is that? And when they broadcast chasing Montag at the end of the book, it was like the O.J. Simpson chase being breathlessly telecast.
No silence anywhere...
When on the subway or the bus, Montag notices advertising is constantly blared at the riders, who can't even finish a thought due to the noise. If you never have peace and quiet, along with the leisure time to just sit and think--your brain gets lazy and stops doing cognitive functions.
Why people stopped reading--I say they got mentally lazy!
Montag's boss, Beatty, reminds him that people stopped reading books long before the fire department changed its focus. Houses were built with fire-proofing on them, so firefighters became unnecessary--until their focus was changed. But in the only part of the book that I disagree with, Beatty also explains how Bradbury felt at the time--that there were too many disparate groups of people taking offense at various things written in books--women were upset when there were no female characters--or writers. As were people of every color, as well as every religious persuasion. Books had to be dumbed-down, so as not to offend anyone. They became so bland and boring that no one wanted to read them anymore. In this, Bradbury is showing his white male privilege--but I forgive him because he was a product of his time. And I remember a Black English department chair telling me that he didn't enjoy teaching this book because he was "tired of teaching books written by old, dead white guys," when Bradbury was still alive. Diversity benefits us all.
Less reading=shorter attention spans, leading to even less reading...
With attention spans getting shorter by the second, if you've read this far you're my kind of reader! Website builders say that the average viewer will only read the sub-titles of an article on a blog--then after about 30 seconds, they'll find something to click on and leave your thoughtful words behind. It took generations for the human brain to become capable of reading, let alone writing something like War and Peace. But in just part of a generation, we're losing the ability to concentrate for that long on anything. I fear for our species, if Bradbury is right. But he predicted that this has happened before, and will continue to happen, until humanity finally realizes that thinking and striving to improve, is what we were born to do. Without a goal and the drive and ability to reach it, we will devolve back to rejoin our simian brothers in the trees.
If you're up for more reading (LOL) which books do other authors value?
Anne Stenhouse http://annestenhousenovelist.wordpress.com/
Skye Taylor http://www.skye-writer.com/blogging_by_the_sea
Diane Bator http://dbator.blogspot.ca/
Connie Vines http://mizging.blogspot.com/
Dr. Bob Rich https://wp.me/p3Xihq-26c
Victoria Chatham http://www.victoriachatham.com
Helena Fairfax http://www.helenafairfax.com/blog
Beverley Bateman http://beverleybateman.blogspot.ca/
Rhobin L Courtright http://www.rhobincourtright.com