Tuesday, September 04, 2018

You can't judge a book


When I was a kid, I was an avid reader. My parents introduced me to the local library early and they took me there often. I would bring home stacks of books and read every one of them. I loved reading.

My first job while I was in high school was as a page in the library. While other kids my age were working in fast food joints, I was shelving books. I worked at the library for five years and eventually became a circulation clerk, checking out books.

When I moved to Seattle to finish college, I got a work study job at the college library. I worked in periodicals.

So you could say, I have a long history with books. But I can't tell you the last time I read one (at least by myself...I read to my daughter almost every night).

I was one of the first people to buy a Kindle (though I bought it for my wife for Christmas). She didn't like the idea of reading an electronic book, so I adopted it and read that way for awhile. But after awhile I lost interest in reading.

Maybe it was having children and not having much spare time. I only have a 30 minute commute each way and spend that either sleeping or playing games on my phone or iPad.

Most of what I used to read was fiction. It was what prompted me to want to be a writer. I won't rehash my failed dream of publishing a novel. Suffice it to say that the digital world snuffed that dream long ago.

Maybe I stopped reading because nothing is new to me anymore. When I was young, the plots spoke of promise, or mystery or hope. Now I just shake my head and say to myself, "not again," or "been there, done that."


I also think that I get my dose of fiction from binge watching movies and television series almost every night after the kids go to bed. But even that gets old. Again, there aren't many new plots.

This all came up because we took the kids to Barnes and Noble the other day so they could find books. My daughter has become a voracious reader. My son less so, but he still likes to read a book now and then. There was a time that being at a book store would have filled me with a sense of wonder and anticipation. But I just stood there in Barnes and Noble with no desire to pick up a book and more than a little resentment that the place was filled with the works of people who had somehow managed to get published when I can't seem to give my work away.

Some of that resentment also stems from my recent attempts to get read on Medium.com. I've been submitting old blog posts. They have a system where they pay you if enough of your stuff is read and liked. I got a text from them a few days ago saying I was about to receive payment for August. They were paying me three cents.

I suppose I could have wandered to the self help section of the Barnes and Noble and found a book on how to bolster my self-esteem. Lord knows there are thousands of self-help books proclaiming to have the secret to a successful life.

But you see, that is why I can't read anymore. We live in an era of fake everything. It's not just the news. It's the fiction, the "facts," the manuals for life written by people who are not motivated by anyone's best interests but there own.

There just doesn't seem to be any truth left to find. And if there is, I just don't think it is going to be in a book at Barns and Noble. And even if there was truth in a book at Barnes and Noble, it would likely be buried at the bottom of a bargain bin because no one would believe it anyway.

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