Books — they’re still around!

Growing up, I have always escaped with books.

I read ‘em all — Encyclopedia Brown, Choose Your Own Adventure, Nancy Drew — which fostered a love for reading early on. I’ve read everything from Kurt Vonnegut to Judy Blume to collections of poetry by E.E. Cummings. And I actually read the books assigned in English class — “The Scarlet Letter,” “The Importance of Being Earnest,” “The Old Man and the Sea” — in high school.

So reading isn’t something new or novel (no pun intended) or trendy. It has always been a big part of my life.

But over the years, I’ve become more of an exception than the norm. Most of my friends don’t read for fun, and many of my college students would prefer watching the movie version of any novels assigned.

I was worried that handheld gaming devices and “Angry Birds” would kill the book industry.

Except I read this the other day in Crain’s: “For the industry, overall trade book sales in January spiked 27 percent, to $504 million, compared to the same month in 2011. Among the fastest growing categories were children’s hardcover books, which were up 69 percent to $57 million; adult hardcover, which increased 22 percent to $70 million, and e-books, which grew 49 percent to $100 million.”

No surprise due to such huge (and profitable) successes like “The Hunger Games” and — undoubtedly — “Fifty Shades of Grey,” the trilogy of which has sold 40 million copies worldwide with book rights having been sold in 37 countries. This erotic series set the record as the fastest-selling paperback of all time, surpassing the Harry Potter series.

And it’s not the best example of fiction, either.

Yet, it sold — and readers loved it.

I wouldn’t say I’m a book snob. I’ve read “Twilight” and all seven Harry Potter books. I’m currently reading “Wild” by Cheryl Strayed, the first title in the newly revived book club headed by Oprah Winfrey. (I started it well before Oprah mentioned it, so I could actually get a copy of it.)

But I still value good writing, at least a good story. But does that matter anymore? Do people really want quality writing — or can books be just pure entertainment?

Or am I the only person who cares?

At the end of the day, I’m just glad people are actually reading. Even if it’s barely more interesting than the backs of cereal boxes.

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11 Responses to “Books — they’re still around!”

  1. jaydee August 9, 2012 at 4:20 am #

    I enjoy reading words penned by an author who has the “gift” of making syntax come alive. When a person can take a seemingly mundane situation and bring it to life with words of color and vibrancy it is like an artist painting a masterpiece. I read constantly…my favorite being novels that delve deep into the minds of its characters. I read the “Game of Thrones” books last summer, all 5 of them. Fascinating books and I can’t wait for the next two. The HBO series is good but it pales in comparison to the detail the books offer. Isn’t that the way it always is?

  2. eddyo August 9, 2012 at 7:27 am #

    Good Morning,

    Interesting observations. Have you ever read G. Orwell’s 1984 & NewSpeak. He was not prophetic, but the lack of vocabulary in everyday discourse is becoming a bit disconcerting.

  3. Annoddah Dave August 9, 2012 at 8:46 am #

    CAT: most of my readings were non-fiction while I was working. now retired I only read blogs…

  4. WildeOscar August 9, 2012 at 12:12 pm #

    From the picture you posted with this blog entry, I’d say that your taste in the printed word has evolved. *wink*

    • Catherine Toth August 9, 2012 at 12:28 pm #

      LOL! It’s not my photo! Hahahaha!

      • WildeOscar August 13, 2012 at 1:04 pm #

        Your post-its liberally applied, Derek’s wish list resting atop the books. Your mother usually reads your blog. I hope she missed this one. Even if you’re married and over 30, our parents still see us as we were as little children.

        I quit smoking at age 33, but oddly even in my late-20s and early 30s, I never smoked in front of my parents, even though my mother was a smoker and my father wouldn’t have cared. Weird…

  5. David Jackson August 9, 2012 at 12:42 pm #

    My trend is to more online content, read news and journal articles. Haven’t read any good fiction in a long time. Wrote a fiction work lately but haven’t read… go figure. Used to devour science fiction.

  6. Old Man August 9, 2012 at 8:21 pm #

    Read all sections of the daily news paper, less the comic and the ad sedtions

  7. Old Man August 9, 2012 at 8:25 pm #

    p.s. The wife is the avid book reader in our household. Even bought a Nook to keep up with the times, sort of, cause she’s not the computer user,

  8. Joe August 10, 2012 at 11:36 pm #

    I’ve been reading a lot more lately. My summer’s been filled with Haruki Murakami books. I’m not a big fan of reading on a tablet, and there’s something to be said about paper and ink. Books feel better in the hand when sitting under a tree, sipping an iced tea on a hot summer day. Plus, I feel like the light from my computer screen keeps me awake longer, so i try to shut the computer down before midnight to get to bed, and therefore wake up at a reasonable time in the morning.

    reading books > reading blogs

  9. Toby Neal March 18, 2013 at 11:12 am #

    Hunger Games inspired my Path of Island Fire dystopian survival, currently on sub and collecting rejections. (fun times) As a writer, I’m evolving, and trying new things. Not all will be a hit with readers (or publishers) but yes, GOOD WRITING matters. Even more important, that writing has to be engaging and keep you reading. A string of pretty words can be dead as a toenail clipping. I’ve read all you mentioned except 50 Shades; I was put off by it (and the ridiculous price.)
    Just one writer’s opinion. I’m of the Stephen King entertainment camp, even though I can’t read his books becuase they scare me too much. Stories have to first, be good stories.
    Toby Neal

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