Books should be on the ballot

America needs more books and less candidates.

There’s one thing that no one can agree on, and that’s politics.

Before you stop reading, afraid that this is some sort of propaganda, it’s not. In fact, this post is about one thing I think we all can agree on (at least, I’m going to assume that because you’re reading this post you have some interest in the topic at hand), and that’s books.

Both sides like to save money. But the estimated cost of illiteracy to businesses and taxpayers is $20 billion per year. Yup. Billion. That’s a lot of wasted money, especially when you consider the sad and ironic truth that our teachers aren’t paid nearly enough.

Before you start saying, “Well MY candidate promises this and this about improving schools,” have any actually said anything as simple as “we need to promote reading”? Sure, they’re all WRITING books, in fact, roughly 58 candidates from the past 15 years have written over 150 books between them. Clearly they’re concerned with adults reading what they have to say. How does that help future generations?

Reading books does what no other media can do. It builds imaginations, it builds neural pathways, it fosters ideas. Movies can never do that. Sure, they have their place, but watching movies is what you do when you want to be entertained. If you want to be enthralled and involved, you read. KIDS need to read. One study shows that creating a steady stream of new, age-appropriate books has been shown to nearly triple interest in reading within months (from Harris, Louis. An Assessment of the Impact of First Book’s Northeast Program. January 2003).

Teachers are buying books for their classrooms out of their own, underpaid pockets. Why? Because THEY know what they’re doing and care enough to do it selflessly. So when statistics show that illiteracy has such a huge impact on education, why aren’t we looking at the most simplistic fix instead of newer, fancier tests.

This isn’t a left or right wing idea. It’s just logic. Let’s all unite under the campaign of books.

Books should be on the ballot
Who’s with me?
Because that’s what it comes down to. Get kids more books. Heck, get EVERYONE more books. Make reading THE priority. When a presidential candidate makes books (and NOT just to sell their own!) and reading his or her main platform, then I’ll listen.

Without a Book: A State of Panic

I found myself in my car yesterday on the way to a doctor’s appointment in a panic when I realized I DIDN’T HAVE A BOOK WITH ME.

This is kind of a lie. I found two books in my car, but they were both coffee table books, and I couldn’t see myself sitting in the waiting room balancing a large copy of British Art from 1500–1800 in my lap.

As I see plenty of people in waiting rooms waiting patiently without books, I assume that finding one’s self bookless while having to do something involve waiting does not strike everyone’s heart with fear the way it does mine.

How do people survive without books? Smartphones and magazines don’t cut it for me. I’m quite an impatient waiter and they just don’t capture my attention enough. Small snippets are no good. I need to get lost to make me forget that one of my legs is asleep and my appointment was an hour ago but there are still 3 people who haven’t been called back that were here before me.

In any case, I settled for a magazine, which almost caused a dangerous shopping spree as it triggered a furious smartphone window shopping session when I saw a pair of workout pants I liked in the magazine (except they cost $98 which was sobering even in my desperate state).

Yes, only a book will do.

Silly cat, that's not how you read.
Silly cat, that’s not how you read.
books, golden book

What’s the point of book reviews?

I ask this because I know my personal taste in most things is vastly different from other people. I assume this holds true for everyone. So why would you let someone else who likes different things than you tell you how good a book is?

I get movie reviews. The story is laid out for you. You don’t have the liberty of imagining what the characters look like, how they speak. It’s also much more limited than a book in that it needs to fit neatly into about an hour and a half. Now, I can guzzle a book in a day or less but I don’t think I’ve ever finished anything with a proper storyline in that amount of time…maybe a Sweet Valley High or something, but definitely not a normal-sized adult (and I don’t mean “adult” in a 50 Shades of Grey sort of way!) book. So if there’s bad acting, if the climax sucks, it’s probably a fair assessment that a movie review would be useful to most people.

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How many bad books have you read, but you finished anyway because you felt you needed to see how the story ended? And how many movies have you stopped midway through because they were horrid? Maybe it’s just me, but I’ll finish even the most horribly written books just because I felt compelled to, but I could care less about a bad movie.

books, golden book
I don’t think anyone needs a review to guess what happens in THIS book.

In conclusion: I’ve never bothered with a book review, but judging by the internet, there certainly seems to be a plethora of them. So who’s reading them?

When your “books to read” pile becomes dangerous.

I’m going to take a wild guess and assume that, if you’re reading this blog (which clearly you are or wouldn’t know I was saying this), you like to read books.

Yeah, I’m a genius.

And maybe, just maybe, you have a “to be read” pile (hereafter referred to only as TBR). And maybe a lot of them have been in this pile for a long time. They’ve been waiting for so long for someone to notice them. They’re sad. They’re lonely (or maybe not, they probably have a lot of company).

You may have valid reasons for abandoning these books for dead in your pile. Maybe you don’t. Maybe you pick one up every once in awhile and consider reading it, but you decide you’re just not in the mood for that type of book, or you’re tired and it’s a smarty-pants kinda book that you just don’t have the brainpower for. Or maybe you started it once but that was so long ago you know you’ll have to start over and that’s just a defeating blow. Or maybe you started it and weren’t that into it, but thought you’d put it aside to give it another chance “one day.” Whatever reason you have, there’s one big problem.

They add up. One day your TBR pile becomes a dangerous leaning tower of Pisa on your nightstand, threatening to fall on you in your sleep. Or it becomes more than a pile and infects an entire bookcase (guilty as charged – several, actually).

Confession...this is actually a picture of books I have in the store. I'm using it because the only difference between my actual TBR pile and this one are the titles.
Confession…this is actually a picture of books I have in the store. I’m using it because the only difference between my actual TBR pile and this one are the titles.

So this is a call to arms. Let’s throw down that new, more exciting book and dedicate our time to reading just ONE BOOK that’s been in the TBR pile for an excessive period of time. You put it there for a reason. Together, we can make it happen!

If you succeed, post your story in the comments! I want to hear!

I’m a book addict, and it makes my life difficult.

I feel your pain, Lisa.
I feel your pain, Lisa.

Disclaimer: This is all very tongue-in-cheek and not meant to make light of real addictions. All in fun!

Being a devourer of books can make for a hard, hard life. Here’s why.

1. For a true book addict, reading before bed won’t help one fall asleep. In fact, they’ll stay up later. The motto for this problem is “Just one more chapter!” And then it’s 3am.

2. People frequently ask you what you’re reading while you’re reading, which makes reading difficult.

3. Even worse, you get so involved in your book that you’ve effectively shut out all life around you, so you don’t hear when someone asks you what you’re reading. Or when your spouse falls off a ladder and is begging for medical attention (full disclosure: the second part has never actually happened personally, but I can imagine it could).

4. The inevitable depression that comes with finishing a book. The magic fog lifts and you’re thrust back into real life.

5. The even more agonizing pain of finishing a book…that ended not even remotely close to the way you wanted it to.

6. Having to choose a new book after you’ve finished the last one.

7. Seeing a movie after you’ve read the book. Outside of the obvious story differences (Jurassic Park was the first book/movie experience I had with this, and I’m still not over it), the actors never even remotely look like you’d imagined the characters.

8. This one’s for those of us who prefer paper books…overloading your luggage with enough books to last you through vacation. Oh, the horror!

9. Having to do pesky responsible things that eat into your reading time, like go to work. Who needs to make a living, anyway?

It’s all very sad, isn’t it? If you’re like me, you understand these issues we face on a daily basis. Every day is a new challenge.

But truth be told, I wouldn’t change a thing.