Thursday, August 07, 2014

A Mind Scrubbing

After binging on mindless television shows, I decided to do a mind scrub last night and try reading. Thankfully, I haven't seen any readily available books centered on reality TV.

Because I have dreams of being a published (and paid) author some day, I really hate myself for having to find freebie reads. But there are plenty out there. I use Amazon's Cloud Reader and the Kindle app (you can get a free one here) for my phone. When I can't buy or borrow books, I will go over and do a search for freebie reads on whatever subject I'm fixated on at the moment.

Kindle. Because this looks so uncomfortable.
The thing is, I download (and actually buy) lots of books. I love books. The problem here is that I don't always make time for reading. Because I felt bad about this, I did a quick search and found that I'm not the only one who isn't reading. The only thing I can say in my favor is that at least I don't lie about what I do or do not read.

Scrolling through this "List of 13 Books Nobody's Read", I was nodding like an uneducated maniac, thinking, "Haven't read that one, or that one, or... Nope haven't read that one either..." (Maybe I should sorta kinda be ashamed that I had never heard before of "Infinite Jest" by David Foster Wallace. Sadder still, I barely got through the first paragraph of the Wiki article about the book.)

I want to redeem myself so I'm looking at this list of 10 underrated books. Unfortunately, I stopped scrolling after the fifth book. I don't really even like the summary descriptions. Apparently, lots of people are starting certain books without bothering to finish them. Much the way I did with that list.

Best feeling ever
When the girls were young, they almost hated that I had a rule about learning. I required them to do a certain amount of reading every week. I made them watch the news and write me a little one-page report. In her adult life, one of them still refuses to read anything other than People or Us. She does read her Bible though (#shesays). The other one has never been without a book in her hand since the day she picked up her first one.
Take away the electronics. That's how.
Or an HOUR won't hurt
The problem with my slack reading habits of late just might not be all about me. Maybe publishers should stop being so picky and start getting some readable work out there on the market. I'm sorry but I will probably never pick up a copy of Stephen Hawking's  "A Brief History of Time" for any other reason than displaying it on my bookshelf. Or maybe not even then because I doubt I could find a good copy for free. Mr. Hawking is a physicist. If I ever met him, in order to have sparkling conversation, we'd probably have to trade gossip about the "Real Housewives". I imagine that people way more intelligent that I are intimidated by his book. Next time someone tries to act superior with me, I'm going to ask if they've read past the table of contents. I'll have to carry around some cheat notes just so I can make them prove it.

Another reason: books don't talk back.
What kinds of books would I like to see more (or less) of? You know I have a list, right?

  • Anything by Stephen King. I don't even care about the stories, I just like so much the way he tells them. I think I have only ever hated a few of his books, but I was ready to lose a friend over the theft of my hardback "Under the Dome". (She's still on friendship probation, by the way.)
  • More regional American fiction. I've lived in various places here in the U.S. and want to see more about the times, lives and pasts of other people as seen through their eyes. I want to know what they eat, how they talk with each other, and what they think of people from other parts of the world.
  • More historical and AA fiction like "The Color Purple" and less about whorish men and women and their fall from church to the streets. (Not that there is anything wrong with the latter, but that 'genre' has turned boilerplate-ish and tiresome. And I never learn anything from it except how disgusted I am with negative stereotypes. The rest of the world should know more about racial groups other than what they see on BET and MTV.)
  • More stories from fellow citizens of this great melting pot of a nation of ours. I want to know about their families: the mamas and daddies, the grands, aunties and uncles, and all the cousins - play and real. Because I feel like there is such a gulf between the Japanese American and African American peoples, I'd really like to see more fiction that might explain that divide.
  • Mysteries, thrillers and chillers. Not sexy-dirty-nasty mysteries. Not celebration-of-the-amoral type thrillers. And I'm so very tired of even hearing about vampires, zombies and all that weird crap. Ann Rice did an amazing job with "Interview" and everyone else has taken the genre down in the gutter. Where are all the modern Sherlocks, Marples and Poirots?
  • Though I like some spice, I don't get into mainstream porn. I prefer porn of the type couples order online in secret or slink into the local corner XXX store for. Why dress it up so that people can feel okay about walking around with it in their purse to read on the commute? It's porn. If you are into it, own it - in all it's nasty-but-occasionally-fun-way-to-spice-up-your-dried-out-relationship glory. Whatever.
  • For Dummies books that don't come with that blazing yellow cover. Take a note from the porn marketers and dress up (or down) the covers better. I always feel like I'm advertising what a, well, dummy, I am when I reach for a tutorial. Not everyone in the library needs to know that I need help with my most basic math skills. Talk about wanting to hide something under a plain brown wrapper!
  • I want more books that I can't wait to tell someone else about. I remember that after I first read "Catcher in the Rye" as a fourteen year old, I spent hours trying to explain it to my best friend. That had to be one of the first books I owned outside my Bible. I actually loaned it to that girl. (Unlike my thieving friend, this one returned my book.) 
Please sir...
Most of all, I'd like to see more books that aren't written as though the author was only thinking about the kind of movie it could be turned into.

Write the book
or write the screenplay
To be honest, there are lots of these books already out there. I just wish I heard about them the way I hear about A Brief History or however many shades of grey there are.

There. #Rantoftheday is done.