Think about it this way, the sheer volume of hours a writer puts into their work means that the book is quite possibly the greatest example of individual human effort congealed into a physical form of any man-made object, meaning that even the worst book in the world is worth substantially more than the best song or the greatest film, yet it is socially acceptable to read only one book per season. Books might not be as social as the internet or as easy on the eye as films, but they are too good to be treated like this.
I blame two things for the devaluation of books: 1) celebrity authors, especially ghost written ones. If Katie Price can churn out three autobiographies, four novels and a series of children's books by the tender age of 31 no wonder the public think writing is piece of piss. And 2) daily freesheets. I don't quite know where to start with this phenomenon. I could get all self-righteous about the waste of natural resources, I could complain about the so called news these things peddle, I could rail at the advertisers who pay for the damn things by explaining to them that nobody takes a blind bit of notice of their ads, but ultimatley I lay the blame at the feet of the people of London. Why is it that if they haven't got a tatty copy of The Metro in their hands they frantically scour the carriage for one? What exactly is it that they think they're missing, apart from last night's news? As if the content wasn't bad enough by itself, there's an even darker side to the free-sheet. Does anybody remember that article on the BBC website about a bunch of scientists from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine who went about checking for bits of crap on commuter's hands? And does anybody remember just how much crap they found on people's hands? If you don't, the figure was that more than one in four commuters have traces of faeces on their hands. Now while you're smuggly reading your copy of the London Lite think about how many people read it before you. From observation I'd argue that by 8.30am at least four people will have read any given copy of a freesheet, which means that, yes, you definitely have somebody else's crap on your hands. Ponder that one as you chew on your nails. So not only are the freesheets full of crap, they're also covered in it (I've been waiting to do that joke, like, forever).
Okay, so back to books. How do we solve the problem of our literature reluctant population?
Well, here's my ingenious list of solutions:
- People on public transport who are reading books should get priority seats, if you're going to listen to your iPod you can damn well do it standing up.
- Celebrity authors should be forced to take public exams so we know just how illiterate they really are.
- Amazon should reduce the price of P&P for books bought from their sellers (book= £0.01p, P&P = +275%).
- Everybody should have a reading week twice a year, not just students.
- WoW players shouldn't be allowed to skip the quest text.
- Comics should count as books.
- Men with masculinity issues should be forced to read Jane Austen's back catalogue before reading anything by Andy McNabb or Rubert Ludlum.
- Journalists should regularly admit they need to work on their writing skills, bloggers should do this even more often*.
* I so need to work on my writing skills.
NOTE: ACCOMPANYING PICTURE TO FOLLOW WHEN AI HAVE ACCESS TO A SCANNER.