Monday Musings: Smarter People, Dumber Books

In recent weeks, as the mountains burn above my head and machines give walnut trees a violent hug, I have found myself once again in the midst of allergy season. Mind you, due to the drought in my state, every season is now technically allergy season. But recently I have no choice but to spend my days halfway between the realms of life and death. Unfortunately, limbo is boring. I know, I know, it’s better than hell itself but I’ve found myself with not a whole lot to do as I wait for someone to finally complete the rituals to raise my corpse. So I decided last week to make an effort to finish all the books on my shelf, including the ones I didn’t actually intend to buy.

I’m sure that sounds like I have some sort of collecting problem, but it’s actually a little more mundane than that. Due to a blood pact I signed with a book of the month club several years ago, I have quite a few books sent to me that I kept simply out of being lazy. These books aren’t necessarily bad, just not something I had any real interest in, but several are at least in a genre I am willing and able to enjoy. So, getting over my distaste for some of the authors, I picked one up and started reading.

But, after a few chapters, I have regretted my life decisions.

Stephen King often said that one of the benefits of writers constantly reading is realizing that published works can be terrible too. He also called the author I’m currently reading a terrible writer. And, while I haven’t finished, I’m already guessing Stephen was right on both counts. I won’t name the book, or even the author. It’s actually true that bad reviews still generate sales. But I can tell you that I checked several times to confirm this was a New York Times Bestseller in my hands, so they’ve clearly conned enough people already.

It’s actually amazing, in this day and age, just how many books can be sold. People take it for granted because we’ve always lived in this advanced society, but once upon a time you would be hard pressed to find someone who could read – let alone afford to spend money on books. Reading was the hobby of the wealthy, sophisticated upper class and was essentially the domain of bored nobles who needed to escape from the day to day grind of not getting syphilis.  Today, in a world of 7 billion people, over 86% of those can now read.

So why do the best selling books all seem to be determined to treat us like idiots? Continue reading Monday Musings: Smarter People, Dumber Books