Monday, January 4, 2010

Good Bye to Good Reads

Growing up, I loved reading books - especially fiction. I could get swept away in a book and the hours would disappear. After high school, and (coincidentally?) around the time I started to take an interest in news writing, my interest in reading fiction (and writing it for catharsis) slowly diminished.

Writing with a purpose (news/non-fiction) to inform, seemed infinitely more important and more noble a cause than writing fiction. In turn, reading non-fiction or news publications, seemed a far more worthy investment of time.

I miss the days when I could pick up any old book, read it, and derive some enjoyment. I would get books from garage sales by no-name authors and hide away in my room and disappear into the pages.

Even though I still don't care for fiction books, I still enjoy going to book stores. Yesterday I stopped at Barnes and Noble. I wandered into the Fiction & Literature section, where if nothing else I knew I would find the old classic works for fiction, whose presence brings me comfort.

I picked up a few random books and read several back covers before realizing I had been audibly scoffing.

We are living in an age when anyone can do anything; "expertise" isn't determined by education, or skill, but merely the availability of the necessary equipment. Digital cameras have made more stay-at-home moms than I can count into amateur photographers charging people for their services; blogs have made people with opinions into "authoritative" sources of news.

While the book industry is harder to penetrate - even the determined novice can self-publish with a little bit of cash, and end up in a well-respected bookstore with a few friends behind the counter.

The reality is, we are living in a fast-food world. And while I am a fast food fan, I am not fond of a society that functions that way. Everything is prepared quickly, then consumed and trashed just as fast. Quality is an endangered species.

The day is gone when a book will stand on it's merits alone; it has to have commercial and retail value - what will reach the most people and make the most money in related merchandise? Here is your book deal.

The resulting tragedy is a ridiculous amount of similarly shaded stories with slight variations in titles.

Flipping through the books on the shelves is disappointingly similar to channel surfing, except more time is invested before you realize what you've chosen is tripe. The only bonus is the absence of commercials breaks.

I know I need to read, however. If I don't read, my mind will languish and my writing skills will stagnate. But if books are food for the brain, Barnes & Noble is a huge vending machine stocked with candies and chips.


HBK said...

and you don't write this type of stuff and send it in wherever you can???

The Chameleon said...

Funny, I thought the "well-educated" i.e. English majors were there to also help novices if they had a great idea. The novices write it to the best of their ability and the oh-so-skilled editors/proofreaders, etc., will polish it off into the work that makes it "readable". Who said only the "well-educated" writers are supposed to have all the good ideas? :-P If fiction isn't your thing, why not let the novices grapple and play around with it and keep editors with more work? :-P Now I understand why my rough draft remains a cast off in your browsed, but barely touched email bin. :-P ...but I still love you. :)