photo by Pratheepps
When I first started at BreakThru Radio, it was as a writer. That was almost three years ago now and since then my role has changed from music writer to host of a program called “Book Talk”. So when I learned that in October we would be dedicating an entire week to books, I jumped at the chance to introduce the theme with an open editorial on the role books play in our society today.
This week’s guest on my show, Jeremy Chin, pointed out to me during our interview how difficult it is to get fiction published in his home country of Malaysia. “You write a book on how to become a millionaire, a book about home decorating or a book on cooking and publishers are willing to take a look. But a fictional manuscript about a marathon runner won’t even warrant a reply email.”
One could argue that technology and the way we communicate in the 21st Century is greatening the cleavage between non-fiction and fantasy. It’s either Outliers or True Blood. In books, we either lose ourselves in the make-believe of magic or attempt to unlock the portal to eternal self-fulfillment and Trumpian wealth. The need for a good, simple story isn’t there anymore. I am interested to watch the BreakThru Radio DJs and writers unveil this week’s content. Will my contention be corroborated or contradicted?
And then there is form. When I say “book”, what image do you hold in your head? I would assume it is of an object made of bound paper with a front and back cover; type font spread across the page with a beginning, middle and end. How many, if any, imagined a Kindle or an iPad? As much as books are changing in content, they are also evolving in form. Numerous writers have taken to task the topic of e-books versus print and no one, as far as I have read, has yet arrived at an impeccable argument. Today’s readers enjoy both and for different reasons. The ease at which Kindle provides its readers is impossible to compare: An entire library in 10.3 ounces. On the other hand, the odor of your grandmother’s third-edition copy of The Great Gatsby is irreplaceable. It’s our nature to be greedy, so why not have both?
The word “book” continues to expand as a homonym. In doing things by the book, I booked dinner reservations tonight. When I cancel, I hope they don’t throw the book at me and book me in prison for a night. If they do, I just hope they allow me some sort of literature: fantasy or history; biography or self-help; kindle or print. Without them, I most certainly will decay—for a life without books, is a body without soul (Cicero).