America's Next Top Model, American Idol, Bad TV, Bad TV & Sex Tapes, Berlin, blogging, Blogs, Bonanza, Cold War, Come Monday, Cormac McCarthy, CSI, D.D. Warren, Dancing with the Stars, Gorky Park, Harry Potter, Jack Kerouac, James Rollins, Jersey Shore, John Le Carre, Kim Kardashian, Larry McMurtry, Lisa Gardner, Lonesome Dove, Lost in a Drunken Banquet of Static, Love You More, Martin Cruz Smith, Moscow, On the Road, Reasons to Read, Reasons to Read - Time Travel, SE HInton, Shakespeare, Soviet Union, Survivor, Suzanne Collins, Texas Rangers, The Biggest Loser, The Devil Colony, The Great Gatsby, The Hunger Games, The Outsiders, The Road, The Things They Carried, TheSpy Who Came in From the Cold, Tim L O'Brien, Tim O'Brien, Twilight series, writer, X Factor
Have I ever told you my tale of riding with two former Texas Rangers in the late 19th century? I rode along with them on a cattle drive from Texas to Montana.
Have I told you about the time I was a British Agent in Cold War Berlin? Or traveled to Moscow before the collapse of the Soviet Union and found three corpses frozen in the snow, faces and fingers missing? If I failed to mention these exploits, I probably failed to mention that I served in Vietnam and walked with a father and son in the post-apocalyptic future.
I don’t have any sort of super powers over the universe. I have no extraordinary abilities, but yet, I am able to travel in time and go places that others can only dream of. The cost of my adventures? Next to nothing! I have traveled the world over ten times for what most of us pay for cable television each month.
Before you say I am full of more sh*t than a Christmas turkey, or place the call to have me committed, remember we all have the ability to visit far away places of intrigue, adventure and romance.
Sadly, most of us never will.
In last weeks post “Reasons to Read – Getting in Touch With Your Inner Casting Director I mentioned that one-third of high school graduates never read another book, and 42% of college graduates will never read another book after college. The numbers are shocking!
Of course, I have never been on a cattle drive with two Texas Rangers. But, I have read Larry McMurtry’s Lonesome Dove. I have never been to Berlin or Moscow, but I have read The Spy Who Came in From the Cold by John Le Carre and Martin Cruz Smith’s Gorky Park. I never served in the military, but traveled with Tim O’Brien as I read his outstanding book The Things They Carried. I can’t predict the next hour, much less travel into the future, but Cormac McCarthy’s The Road took me there.
So why don’t more people read?
Was it the classics we were forced to read in high school, that at the time, seemed like the driest, dullest stories in the world? If our teachers hadn’t forced Shakespeare or The Great Gatsby upon us, but instead choose Jack Kerouac’s On the Road or even SE Hinton’s The Outsiders, would more people read today? Maybe with the popularity of the Harry Potter novels and the Twilight series the reading numbers will improve. It is hard to deny the book marketing directed towards today’s youth. I don’t recall my generation or generations thereafter being targeted with anything as popular and mass appealing as we are seeing today.
People don’t read because they would rather be entertained by the television. They would rather sit back on the couch and watch Dancing with the Stars. This is a show where I haven’t even heard of the so-called stars. Watch dancing? Are you serious? I was forced to take ballroom dancing in 8th grade with “Mr. Al.” Hated it then and don’t watch it now.
Do I really need to know or care about which rather large person can lose the most weight on The Biggest Loser? Am I supposed to be entertained by a network show that concludes with obese people standing on a weight scale?
I don’t get the X Factor, Survivor, American Idol or America’s Next Top Model. Don’t even get me started with Jersey Shore. Someone please, give me one, just one, valid reason to watch such numbingly bad television. I don’t even understand the popularity of CSI, the show that is as fake as the backdrops were on Bonanza.
What about the greatest sham pulled on the American public this year? How many millions and millions of misguided fools watched and continue to follow the Kim Kardashian marriage saga? Why am I supposed to be enthralled about the life of a wanna-be celebrity? A woman made famous by a sex tape, gets married and 72 days later wants a divorce. What a joke, and the punch line is on the ever-caring public as she laughs all the way to the bank.
Turn it off. Tune it out.
Instead, take a trip to the not to distant future with Suzanne Collins in The Hunger Games or help D.D. Warren solve the case in Lisa Gardner’s Love You More.
I’m not taking calls right now I’m on another journey, this time with James Rollins in The Devil Colony.
Come Monday: Here at Lost in a Drunken Banquet of Static we celebrate the survival of another weekend! And if it’s Monday, it’s time to start reading a new book. On this day, we will go to the bookstore, the digital library and even dust off a few books on the bookshelf. We will not only explore reasons to read, but also discuss other topics including book v. the movie. Together we will also revisit some classics and look at how they are holding up with time, discuss our favorites, etc.
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Diane Capri (@DianeCapri) said:
Excellent again, Tim. My sentiments exactly. Nice to meet a fellow reader here in cyberspace.
Jeff Parduhn said:
I totally agree! I don’t watch much tv, especially reality shows. I currently enjoy reading Michael Connelly and John Maxwell books. Thanks for another great read!
Jeff – Michael Connelly is one of my all-time favorites. He is the only author that I have read everyone of his books. I’d love to have a beer with Det. Harry Bosch!
Larry Heisel said:
Oddly enough, it was a series of books that got me through my wife’s cancer and eventual passing. The Aubrey/Maturin books from Patrick O’Brian were a years worth of solid reading, as I lived aboard the H.M.S. Surprise during the Napoleanic wars. Lately I’ve been spending a lot of time in Africa with Wilbur Smith, as great an adventure writer as I’ve ever read.
Books are a great way to escape and travel the world – and the trip is all legal! I will have to check out Patrick O’Brian and Wilbur Smith.
Emma Burcart said:
I totally agree with the reality TV thing, especially Dancing With The Unknown People, as I like to call it. But I have to say you are so wrong about CSI! I love that show. It makes me think that science is facinating with all the crazy experiments they do. And it’s actually a good influence on young adults if it inspires them to be a scientist. Really, any show that takes place in a lab can’t be bad. Sorry to rant, but it’s kind of my favorite show. I do also love reading. I am currently reading Birds of Paradise by Diana Abu-Jaber and if it is possible to be in love with a book, I am! I pick reading over TV every night right now because I just can’t put it down. But I still recorded CSI:Miami last night. 🙂
I used to be a big CSI fan and never missed an episode. The science is fascinating but I felt the futuristic lab technology was getting a bit much. Plus I thought the writing has grown tired. I do watch some TV but I always record everything and watch at a later date. I can’t watch live television anymore. TIVO is the greatest and you get to zip past all the commercials!
Karen McFarland said:
Thank you Tim for this post!
Mindless T.V. Thanks for saying it like it is!
I’m sticking with a good book.
Teresa M. Owen said:
Great post. Although, if you were on the cattle drive to Montana, you were probably one of the only ones to survive. Man, the Lonesome Dove series had a lot of death.
Debra Kristi said:
Thank you for a great post Tim. I appreciate someone speaking the truth about mind-numbing reality television. Ugh! Enough already! Right now I’m reading a book by one of my WANA sisters. But I do love to get lost in all kinds of fantasy worlds. Love a good book!
Elaine Smothers said:
EXCELLENT post, Tim! I always say I’ve never traveled much, not thinking about all the worlds I’ve experienced through the thousands of books I’ve read. I recently traveled the world in search of Nazi war criminals in David Morrell’s ‘The Brotherhood of the Rose’ trilogy and am looking to start the Micheal Connelly series next. I’ve never watched much television except sports & the occasional movie (which never seem to measure up to the book)!