I like reading (non-fiction, that is). I like reading book reviews (though usually after reading the book to gain additional perspective, never to help me determine to read a book). And I finally like reading periodicals as listed in “Print I Read” on the left bar. Hence, the emphasis the bloggers I read place on books is especially interesting and enjoyable. I have some observations on the notion “you are what you read” and then on how bloggers approach this from my viewpoint:
1. People who read a lot of books, newspapers, and magazines are usually more interesting than those who do not. If you read my post/article books make you a boring person then you know about the horrible quicksand many avid readers fall in to – becoming intellectually lazy by regurgitating facts and not critically analyzing what they read. This is especially true I think when I see, say, a strong anti-Bush person read Michael Moore books and the other 100 books out there to reinforce his/her own views. That person would be so much more interesting if s/he could suck it up and read Bush Country, a pro-Bush book. Then one could say “Well Bush’s supporters say X, Y, Z with these reasons but I don’t agree with that because of A, B, C….” Right now it’s usually “Bush sucks because of A, B, C.” The former is much stronger argument, only done through sitting through 300 pages of the opposite side.
2. People who rely on few media sources for daily news fit in the “boring” category. Why? An example. At a dinner party a couple weeks ago with primarily adults, politics inevitably came up. Everyone went around the table and said their one stock line (almost always a headline from that day’s NY Times) or their one Bush joke. Most busy people will read one national paper (NY Times or WSJ) and their local paper. I know people who have been reading the Times for 40 years regularly. It’s amazing to think that their entire thinking and window through which they see the world has been determined for the most part by a group of editors at one paper. I try to overcome this by reading both the liberal and conservative editorial pages of the Times and WSJ. Harpers and the Atlantic. 24 blogs daily. Etc. Also important to read about the credibility in journalism and the stories behind the stories of each of these publications.
3. Bloggers who list what they are reading (as I do) seem to plow through their books in an amazingly short amount of time. Maybe because it’s summer. But I ask this question: how much can you remember or take away from each book? There have been studies that people often buy lots of books and put them on their shelves and then they feel good. They sometimes never get read, or when they do, very lightly. In the past I’ve been steadfast on keeping my books clean, without underlining or other marks. But now I’m going to be marking up my books start to finish so I can go back and reference information as well as keep my mind focused on what the take-aways are from the book (assuming non-fiction).
4. Negative book reviews on blogs don’t make sense to me – why would I care why it’s bad. If it’s bad, don’t write a review saying it is bad. If it’s good, tell me why, so I can see about getting a copy.
Those are my thoughts on this topic for the moment. I’d love to hear yours.