Day 10 – (16 days to Smugglivus and Counting)
Who: John Marco, writer of Epic Fantasy novels. So far he has published 2 trilogies: Tyrants and Kings and the Lukien Trilogy. You can check the author’s website here
Recent Work: to be published in May 2009 his new novel Starfinder: Book One of the Skylords.
Ladies and gentlemen, John Marco and an article on why books are great:
Hello, everyone! I am delighted to be here to celebrate books and reading with other lovers of the written word. When Ana and Thea first invited me to participate in Smugglivus, I wasn’t sure what I should talk about. I considered a list of favorite books or an excerpt from one of my own, but rather than talk about myself I wanted to discuss something communal—something that we who love books can all appreciate. And then it hit me.
We live in a time when books are under siege. Electronic media seems to have supplanted the simple love of reading almost everywhere. In our homes, we have televisions in every room. And in our long train commutes we can fire up our iPods to watch those shows we somehow missed in our 40+ hours of TV viewing last week. So maybe it’s time to remind ourselves why books are great. Sure, I love television and movies, but there are things that books still do better than electrons. Here are just a few to keep in mind.
Books have no commercials. Believe it or not, this is the first thing that came to me. Sure, some paperbacks have advertisements at the end for other books, but no ones screaming at you to buy toilet paper or try a new phone service. Everywhere I go I’m bombarded by commercials. I look down in a parking lot and I see ads written in the yellow lines where I’m supposed to park. And what are they advertising? The new season of Desperate Housewives. (True story.)
Books are quiet. Remember quiet? Tie this one in with the commercials and you’ll see that we live in an echo chamber of talk radio, 24 hr cable news, iPods, iPhones, bleeping/zapping video games and computers that say “you’ve got mail.” Thanks to satellite radio, we can hear the same incessant voice from coast to coast. Isn’t it nice just to be alone for awhile, lost in a book? Sometimes the only voice I want to hear is my own, silently in my own mind.
Books pump up your imagination. The mind doesn’t just have a voice, of course. It also has an eye. How did you picture that character you loved so much, the one that looked so different when they made the book into a movie? Maybe you were disappointed when Tom Cruise played Lestat. Book authors use words to conjure images and feelings in the minds of readers, but the other part of that equation is up to you. You can give their characters and worlds the traits you want, even if the author never intended them.
Books are a bargain. It costs ten bucks at least to see a film these days. For two hours of enjoyment (or none at all if the movie stinks). Books can be had for pennies online or at used book stores, and if they’re anything like the books I write they’ll definitely take you longer than two hours to read! Sure, TV is free, but most of what’s on isn’t worth your time anyway. And think about this—Books aren’t just less money than movies, but they cost less calories too. I don’t know anyone who reads a book with a bucket of popcorn and a box of butterfingers.
There are, of course, lots of reasons to read. I’m sure you can come up with your own. Reading books improves your vocabulary, and some say it staves off Alzheimer’s. Maybe it does or doesn’t, but let me leave you with one more thought, something I heard a writer say many years ago—Books are a covenant. Inherently, they are a promise to the reader that something special is inside. Both sides participate in this covenant, because reading takes times. It’s not the passive, so-called “activity” of TV watching. Books demand a commitment from the reader. And for that commitment, they are richer.
Happy Smugglivus, friends.
Next on Smugglivus: Mike Stone