August 4, 2018

"Because the underlying premise that 'television is inherently not good' is one of the core tenets of the entire 'book guy' identity."

"At least, it used to be. It used to be that I — a 'book person”' — stood in stark contrast to you — a 'television person.' I represented a 'beacon of urbane intellectualism.' You represented a 'couch-sustained root vegetable.' I didn’t 'watch TV.' I 'derived pleasure from the written word.' I didn’t 'laugh at situation comedies.' I spent my days 'quietly admiring wit.' You’d ask me if I’d 'seen the new King of Queens' and I’d ask you if you’d 'read the new David Sedaris.' (Sure, I was a dick. But I was a literate dick.)"

So what do you do when television gets good — "Game of Thrones" and all that — and it smashes the underlying premise, Tim Eberle wonders, in "Eulogy for an Aging Book Guy/The least I can do is ride out this 'book guy' thing until it reaches its logical conclusion" by Tim Eberle (in Witness, reprinted in The Utne Reader).

"After all, why would I commit to watching seven seasons of Game of Thrones when I can already talk to you about 'the influence of science-fiction in literary culture in the era post Philip K. Dick' It’s the life that I’ve worked for and the one that I’ve chosen, and there’s no sense in changing that now."

127 comments:

Ken B said...

Game of Thrones, famously, sucks.

Season 1 was okay. Season 2 was awful and I gave up.

gilbar said...

Isn't Game of Thrones just Porn?

tim in vermont said...

If you read too many books, you see what trite shit Game of Thrones is. But we all see to like porn, so it has that going for it. And dragons!

Molly said...

(eaglebeak)

Why can't we be both?

Shakespeare was wildly popular entertainment for the masses (Elizabethan TV, that is); no sense being snobbish about that.

Why can't we read Plato's Parmenides in the morning and watch South Park in the evening?

Mr. Groovington said...

Yes, I was guilty of being dismissive of TV as part of the ‘book guy’ thing. I probably still would be, but now that elitist condescension is in ruins. My reading time has been decimated by the estreme political drama and my iPad. I used to read four books a week, now it’s one at best. My time is limited as I travel, so it’s kind of one or the other.

tim maguire said...

Humans have a relentless tendency to turn preferences into religions.

MadisonMan said...

That guy sounds really pretentious.

There is room in life for everything. If you exclude all TV just because, well, then you miss out on conversations. Please don't try to steer the conversation to books just because you can't find the time to enjoy a sitcom because it is so bourgeois.

tim maguire said...

Game of Thrones has been uneven, but it was quality television at least until season 6, when they abandoned the "anything can happen to anyone" approach.

Mr. Groovington said...

Better Call Saul, Season 4, is being released on iTunes in 2 days. Can’t wait.

Ann Althouse said...

I've never watched even 5 minutes of "Game of Thrones."

I once looked at a video for about 10 seconds. A dragon was breathing fire and destroying a whole lot of people or maybe a town or something. It was CGI. I hate to look at CGI.

rehajm said...

I don't watch television used to be the equivalent of an advanced degree without all the hassle.

Book guy can still be book guy just with fewer chicks.

Ann Althouse said...

"Better Call Saul, Season 4, is being released on iTunes in 2 days. Can’t wait."

I read that BCS is only just now getting close to the events in Breaking Bad. I tried watching BCS in the first season, but I just didn't find myself clicking on the episodes that had accumulated in my DVR and stopped recording it.

Think it's possible to just start with season 4? It just seems that there's too much to know, too many characters to recognized, and I tend to forget from episode to episode even when I'm trying to keep up.

FIDO said...

I know a bunch of gun guys. They go on about grains, bullet weights, various types of trigger pulls, the benefits of a three groove vs a two groove barrel, the feed mechanisms of different kind of magazines.

They have their own lingo, their own culture, and they have a sense of pity for those not as enlightened as they are on the benefits of a kidney holster vs a pelvic holster.

They are pretentious gun guys.

(I can already feel Ms. Althouse sneering)

AND...if you replaced all that I just wrote with words about literary transitions, tone, atmosphere, etc, the difference between pretentious gun guy, pretentious SCI FI Nerd and 'Aging Literary Guy'...is essentially absolutely zero.

These are all people defining themselves by person specific esoterica, whether Feminist Thought, Post Modernism, or what exactly was 'The Plan' by the Cylons.

Essentially, it is the all too human trait of sneering those who know less about 'X', whatever X is.

Oh look...examples up above!

Game of Thrones is nice. I like the tits. GRRM was more evocative with a mere two sentences, but you can't see words bob and sway.

And GRRM is going to die before he finishes up his Magnum Opus (though he will die a rich man)

I think it's good to be able to fire and clean a gun. I think it's good to be able to appreciate stories. I think it's good to know quality Television (Breaking Bad, Battlestar Galactica, GoT) vs. bad television (Anything from Korea)

So I am obviously superior to all you other pretentious people by being non-pretentious (Sneer Sneer Sneer!)


gilbar said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mr. Groovington said...

Kim Wexler is the sexiest lawyer who ever walked Albuquerque, if not the world. She’s going to bail on our protagonist this season. I’ll be crushed.

rhhardin said...

I threw out the TV in 1971 for being too stupid to bear. The news is still that way.

Veep (DVD) is good for its mocking just that. Game of Thrones looks unbearable.

I must have watched some TV movies released on DVD that were tolerable, but don't offhand know which ones they are.

gilbar said...

The Most Best thing about Telenovelas is that they go for one year
They're on Every night; so a year is a long time; but! They Only go for a year.
1st Episode: Poor (Gorgeous!) girl meets handsome Rich guy
At the end of the year; they're married, and living happily ever after: Just like REAL Life

Think about american crap like Friends: Once Ross and Rachel kissed; the show was Done. If it'd ended then (call it 5 seasons american), it would have been Awesome; but they had to keep going. So, they had to break up; and get back together FOR FIVE FUCKING MORE YEARS!!

Every thing that can be done on a TV story can be done in 5 (american) seasons. After that, you're just repeating yourself, with lamer and lamer reasons for it. Next thing you know, you're adding cousin Oliver, or going to California to Jump a Shark
Shows should be Required to only last One Year (and be on Every night)
Shows should be about REAL LIFE (gorgeous poor girl gets handsome rich guy)
Shows should be in Spanish, so you can invent your own dialog
There needs to be RULES, and they Need to be MY RULES

Ann Althouse said...

"I used to read four books a week, now it’s one at best."

LOL. File under: humblebrag.

mockturtle said...

It's sad that someone would be so concerned about how someone else might label him. But the worst thing, IMO, about television is that it limits one's perspective. There is a real world out there.

rehajm said...

This is great television. It's a ride but it's only a ride. You have fun or rides or you don't.

gilbar said...

tim maguire said...
Game of Thrones has been uneven, but it was quality television at least until season 6

SEE? Five nights a week, for ONE YEAR; then you Are DONE!

Mr. Groovington said...

Ann Althouse said...Think it's possible to just start with season 4? It just seems that there's too much to know, too many characters to recognized, and I tend to forget from episode to episode even when I'm trying to keep up.

Unfortunately not and I can’t explain why without spoilers, except to say that 2 of the principle relationships have been developed and concluded, almost. Plus, some characters from Breaking Bad have now been introduced, and how the 2 shows dovetail is critical to the piece. It’s worth binging to catch up.

Marcus said...

I am a Book Guy. I find that thanks to technology I listen to more books these days than I read. (My ADHD plays into that). Does that make it any less to brag about?

I gave up on TV after my parents passed away (used to watch Seinfield and Jeopardy with them) but I have been pulled back in with Netflix and Amazon Prime. Does that count?

Questions, questions.

Darrell said...

I used to read four books a day, now it's one at best.
Not that many two-page books being printed these days.

Mr. Groovington said...

Ann Althouse said...
"I used to read four books a week, now it’s one at best."

LOL. File under: humblebrag

Well, there’s a story there and it was a weakness, not a strength. So excuse the poor framing. I had sold my business, ended my relationship, and had absolutely no idea what to do with myself. So I read addictively for years. Then I said “fuck it” and have been travelling ever since.

Michael K said...

TV is not good for kids. Friends who did not let their kids watch TV raised better kids. Small sample, admittedly.

Also, I think TV is responsible for the increase in dementia.

Other than that, it's fine.

At night in bed, we sometimes watch "Battle Bots."

MadisonMan said...

Why are you all talking about Game of Thrones when we could be talking about Doctor Who!

Focus, people! Focus!!

Ficta said...

I agree with Sodal Ye about BCS.

BCS is one of the most subtle shows on TV. Right up there with Mad Men. It's really good.

Game of Thrones has many good points, but subtlety is not one of them. Also, the CGI is the boring part of GOT. The good parts of GOT are the characters.

Can Of Cheese for Hunter said...

I have not watched a single second of game of thrones.

FIDO said...

This hating on television is sort of sad and a lot of it is based upon frankly ancient types of television.

We are going through a Golden Age of Television, where 4-6 years of challenges, character development and conflict can be slowly built to a crescendo...or not (See Dexter).

In some ways, in comparison, books are clunky. I do not need to read 524 words describing a room and guess at all the aspects of it: I can SEE it in a moment. The same beats, the same tones and focuses can also be brought to bear in a television show as that of a film (I am specifically reminded of the floating eyeball in Breaking Bad).

That being said: a book allows the reader to give his own 'value added'. Despite everything the author writes, we can shade our own preconceptions of what a particular character looks like in our heads than the author saw in his. (My Daenerys has much bigger honkers than a hypothetical one read by Ms. Althouse)

And frankly, an expression by a Kim Wexler, a shared glare between a Tigh and Starbuck, gives TONS of nuance that only the very best of writers can aspire to.

But...literature! This, once again, is personal bias.

gilbar said...

Why are you all talking about Game of Thrones when we could be talking about Doctor Who!
Tits, it's ALL ABOUT THE TITS.
If Dr. Who (and the Miss America Contest) would just Get rid of the Swimsuits and Evening Gowns; as many people would watch those shows as watch Game of Thrones

FIDO said...

Most single books can't add enough drama and character development that can occur in a television series. A SERIES of books can.


But the same people who hate on television probably also sneer at most book series as well.

Bill Peschel said...

"it’s becoming increasingly difficult for me to justify the “book guy persona” as anything resembling efficacious."

Here's a good sign of pretentious: "anything resembling efficacious" is not needed and there only to show you know the word.

"The least I can do is ride out this “book guy” thing until it reaches its logical conclusion"

I thought "book guy" was a process, not a destination. Unless "reaches its logical conclusion" means what it can only mean.

"...the least I can do is ride out this “book guy” thing until it reaches its logical conclusion. (Which is, of course, becoming that overbearing guy at your party cornering strangers in the kitchen to inform them that “I’ll never use a Kindle — I’m just way too attached to the idea of books as physical objects, you know?”) I think that I’m just wired to be the person whose default reaction will always be “... yeah, but the book was so much better than the movie ...” And if that makes me anachronistic than so be it."

Anachronistic? No. Hide-bound, reactionary, enslaved to a persona instead of being open to new experiences? Yes.

OTOH, he is the ideal for Prescott Lackey's psychological insight that a human's primary goal is not survival but the preservation of the symbolic self.

M Jordan said...

I used to think I was a book guy. But as the years go by I find fininshing a book harder and harder. Most nonfiction is, as a friend of mine proclaimed back in 1973, simply an article in disguise as a book. Take Malcolm Gladwell. He’s easy to read, entertaining, picks interesting topics, etc. I always start his books with a bit of anticipation. Then I get to chapter five, or six, somewhere in the middle and I’m done. I got it.

I long ago lost any sense that I owe the author anything. They owe me. And when the book starts getting redundant, or boring, see ya.

gilbar said...

FIDO agrees with me, saying: We are going through a Golden Age of Television, where 4-6 years of challenges, character development and conflict can be slowly built to a crescendo...

This is why shows NEED TO STOP. The writers can see the end when they write the beginning, but american TV won't let shows end until the ratings fail.
In the Immortal Words of Elvis Presley, Always Leave Them Wanting MORE.

Anonymous said...

Eberle writes like a guy who watches television, not like a guy who reads. Or rather, not like a guy who reads "seriously", which is his implicit claim. ("... [I]t’s simply that, as time progresses and mores shift, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for me to justify the 'book guy persona' as anything resembling efficacious" is a media-marinated illiterate's sentence.)

Like KenB, I tripped over the notion that Game of Thrones is television "getting good", but there is nothing inherently "good" about reading v. watching, content-wise. It's really a matter of what and how one reads or watches. (Even granting that compulsive consumption of either media-dictated "serious" works or "trash" may be a less passive activity than the visual equivalent, with different long-term neurological effects.)

I don't "watch television", in that I don't have cable (because I pay to have sewage removed from my house, not pumped in), but I do watch stuff on my television, judiciously.

FIDO said...

That being said: there is a quality to...quality.

The "Fruit, Tits, Plants" scene in Black Sails is a perfect (visual) implementation of that idea.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wrmfX8QtBfA

A Shakespeare (Actually, Cough, Edward DeVere), a Mozart, a Botticelli shows an unmistakable quality which reaches across classes, genders, centuries and languages.


BUT...the vast majority of films, music and yes, even books, do not reach anywhere NEAR that level.

So your meh books do not beat meh television and Lady Gaga doesn't beat Dies Irae.

Anonymous said...

Molly: Why can't we read Plato's Parmenides in the morning and watch South Park in the evening?

That's more or less how I arrange my leisure.

Molly said...

(eaglebeak)

I used to write four books a week. Now it's down to one at best.

buwaya said...

I'm a book guy, been one from age 3.
Obsessive book guy.

I like Youtube.
Its got every sort of eccentric going mad for his thing.
And all the music you could ask for.

sinz52 said...

A lot of folks who look down their noses at movies or TV tend to forget that Shakespeare also intended his plays to be *popular entertainment* for a mass audience (including uneducated peasants), not just for professors at the University of Oxford. So did many other classical authors.

Shakespeare stuck all those risque puns into his plays to reach a mass audience. (It's easy to ignore that today because the meanings of those words in English have shifted over the centuries.)

If Shakespeare were alive today, he would probably be a lead writer for HBO.

Matt Sablan said...

I never understood mocking people for liking things you don't like. It is one thing I dislike about a lot of nerd forums. Where they insult people who like watching sports as "neanderthals rooting for whoever can put the ball through the thing to get the points," and the like.

People like different things! That's OK!

narciso said...

Yes but game of thrones makes Titus andronicus seem tame.

Matt Sablan said...

"I used to read four books a week, now it’s one at best."

-- When people say this, I always wonder where they find the time. Then I wonder: Maybe I'm just reading longer books.

Then I remember: This isn't like elementary school where the winning class gets a pizza party. We're all adults. We can have pizza whenever we want.

Then I get a pizza.

FIDO said...

It was easier to shock and amaze an audience with norms and morals than this cultural sinkhole of 'top this disgusting outrageous thing I just wrote'.

GRRM, once he pulled his 'I will make you care about a character and then kill them' schtick has been shot and he's been floundering ever since.

narciso said...

game of thrones, is like long form joe Abercrombie, then again it could just as well be a post apocalyptic far future,

narciso said...

I think tv was good when good and evil were clearly delineated, when the evil doers were punished, novel notion,

Annie C. said...

I'm probably the weird one here. Thenlast calbe new Imwatched was a few years agomwhen I watched the five regularly. Greg Gutfeld makes me laugh, but Imgave it up because of Eric Bolling and Dana Perino. Both came of as caricatures.

However, I watch local news every night. Dallas has lots of fun stories and intrigue and low-level politics. Also have a local channel on when weather may get nasty.

But I can't remember the last actual show or movie I watched. After the news, it's football and golf, cooking, outdoors shows, and odd duck stuff like ancient aliens and oak island.

Books get rotated in bathrooms. I have Crohn's, so I'm in the bathroom a lot. Funny enough, the book in my office bathroom right now is The Womens Room. I'm not sure whether Althouse would appreciate that book or not.

Fritz said...

Ann Althouse said...
I've never watched even 5 minutes of "Game of Thrones."

I once looked at a video for about 10 seconds. A dragon was breathing fire and destroying a whole lot of people or maybe a town or something. It was CGI. I hate to look at CGI.


But it's so hard to find a real dragon to play the part, and when you do, they demand a whole horde of gold.

John henry said...

If I read books on a screen (Kindle), as I do, am I a book guy or a TV guy?

One of the pretensions that I find particularly annoying is that the "experience" of reading paper books is better and makes one a better person.

I've read a couple books a week for 50-60 years. I find the Kindle experience far superior.

I've pretty much given up on TV in the past 5-10 years. Never watch it. Otoh, I do watch an hour or so a night of video while riding my bike. Mostly movies an mini-series on YouTube, Amazon and Netflix. (currently binging on peaky blinders. Best thing in years)

Does that make me a TV person?

John Henry

Anonymous said...

Matthew Sablan: I never understood mocking people for liking things you don't like. It is one thing I dislike about a lot of nerd forums. Where they insult people who like watching sports as "neanderthals rooting for whoever can put the ball through the thing to get the points," and the like.

I razz my sportsball-loving siblings in similar terms all the time, but that's all it is - sibling razzing. I don't believe that they're misguided or stupid because they really enjoy things I couldn't care less about. (And they give as good as they get.)

I only get uppity about it when people start tyrannically imposing unshared tastes in every public space.

John henry said...

Ann,

Re humblebrag:

Why is quantity of books read a humblebrag? Or any other kind of brag?

Why is your claim never to have watched even 5 minutes of GOT not a humblebrag? I've got your 5 second claim beat. I've never watched any GOT at all.

Too busy reading books on my kindle. Some purchased via your portal.

So how many books did you read last week, Ann? Were they all highbrow?

John Henry



William said...

I used to be a book person, but I'm transitioning. On Amazon Prime, there's an endless supply of BBC adaptations of 19th century novels. I'm happy as a clam watching them. Some of the production values are kind of chintzy, but they do seem to take care with the costumes and the furnishings. For the most part, they stay true to the plot.......Give those Royal Shakespeare trained actors a fiendish villain from Dickens to play, and they don't disappoint. No nudity. You can't have everything, but, on the plus side, political correctness is not part of that world.

William said...

I'm a big GOT fan, but I noticed a disturbing trend last season. There was markedly less nudity among the women and far more nude scenes featuring men. I fear that this coming season we will be treated to Peter Dinklage's hairy ass and only a fleeting glimpse, if that, of Emilia Clarke's lovely breasts.

FIDO said...

I've never watched even 5 minutes of "Game of Thrones."

I once looked at a video for about 10 seconds. A dragon was breathing fire and destroying a whole lot of people or maybe a town or something. It was CGI. I hate to look at CGI.


This statement reminded me of a passage I read in 'The Confusion' by Neal Stephenson.

Hooke was distraught that Isaac Newton was eclipsing him. His friend comforted him with these words, which seemed oddly applicable.




Newton makes his discoveries in geometrickal realms where our minds cannot go, he strolls in a walled garden filled with wonders, to which he has the only key. But you, Hooke, are cheek-by-jowl with all of humanity in the streets of London. Anyone can look at the things you have looked at. But in those things you see what no one else has. You are the millionth human to look at a spark, a flea, a raindrop, the moon, and the first to see it. For anyone to say that this is less remarkable than what Newton has done, is to understand things in but a hollow and jejune way, ‘tis like going to a Shakespeare play and remembering only the sword-fights.”

John henry said...

Marcus

Does listening to books make you a book guy?

As one who has probably "read" a couple hundred books on tape, (is That a humblebrag, Ann?) I say yes. There are others who say no. Generally the same who sniff at kindle.

What about long-for podcasts such as Mike Duncan Revolutilns? 200+ episodes/100+ hours. Does listening to that make one a book guy?

It gets confusing who to sniff at.

John Henry

John henry said...

Michael

Battlebots? Is that still on?

I'd watch TV for that.

Great show

John Henry

buwaya said...

Game of Thrones will still have to go a long way to match "Titus Andronicus" in anything but body count. Murder is murder. A thousand murders is as one.

But Titus Andronicus, that thing is sick.

buwaya said...

GRRM lost control of his creation, started spawning characters and subplots all over, and ended with a mass of loose ends that would have required a dozen volumes to clean up, even if he had it in him to resolve them. It doesn't seem like he can do the writing anymore. No doubt he has volumes of notes and there is probably a career for some writer in processing them into a finis of the whole mess in a couple of volumes.

The GOT TV writers killed off a lot of his loose ends (literally), ignored others, and have been sewing it back up into a single narrative. I think they have done a decent job so far, though they aren't up to GRRMs powers of invention.

FIDO said...

John Henry,

Forget if you learned anything. Forget if you were enlightened or your mind expanded. Mike Duncan! Pshaw! (Secret Fist Bump on that and 'Revolutions')

Unless it is someone accredited by the Academy or recognized by the Academy as 'smart', anything anyone else enjoys is just low brow nonsense.

One wonders how long this 'David What's his name' will continue to be bragworthy.

I saw a movie called 'Genius'. It had this author, Thomas Wolfe, still celebrated by the Academy. Never heard of him. He lived in the time of F. Scott Fitzgerald and Hemingway.

He 'wrote' 23 works according to Wiki, but 15 of them are either WAY posthumous or collections of his letters so the smart set can discuss this unknown over canapes and single malt sco...I mean some ridiculously rare tea from the Northern Slopes of the Himalayas. (Scotch is too manly for this set)

According to the movie, he vomited 3000 pages of prose, which his editor eventually cut into something readable. So who was the Genius again?

Show me an author still discussed by the population in 2100 and you have someone worth 'bragging' about.



FIDO said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
FIDO said...

GRRM doesn't know how to end his work. We can all SEE where it should go...but that would be admitting that he is 'predictable and cliched' so he is avoiding that ending with his (literal) dying breath.

The other problem is he is infected with Post Modernism. He refuses to create heroes or icons. He's 'too smart for that'.


I essentially quit the books at Feast of Crows when he started throwing on six more subplots I am uninterested in and then vomited out Dance of Dragons, which goes no where (well, about 20 feet is what I got when I threw it across the room)


George BADLY needs the Editor from "Genius".

Robert Cook said...

"Well, there’s a story there and it was a weakness, not a strength. So excuse the poor framing. I had sold my business, ended my relationship, and had absolutely no idea what to do with myself. So I read addictively for years. Then I said “fuck it” and have been travelling ever since."

Even so, I have never understood how people could physically read four or five books a week, or a book a day, as some say they do. How fast must one read to accomplish that, or how many hours per day? Is that attentive reading, or skimming? I am an inveterate reader, a lover of bookstores, a "book guy," (also a tv guy, let's be honest), but I have never read an entire book in one day. I have completed an entire book in a week...but it is a seldom done thing.

I am either a slow reader or I don't have the physical and mental stamina to put in the time and concentration necessary to go through books a week. After a certain amount of reading, I am fatigued and have to put the book down.

Robert Cook said...

"One of the pretensions that I find particularly annoying is that the "experience" of reading paper books is better and makes one a better person."

Do people say that?

I prefer reading books on paper because it is simply physcally easier for me. Reading on a screen strains my eyes--though I have done it. More to the point, I really like to know where I am in the book. My bookmark's location in a closed book tells me if I am approaching the end or still have a way to go. Reading a book on a tablet or phone or eReader, it is simply one undifferentiated page after another. One might feel one has read most of the book and is approaching the end, while having read only halfway into it. When I read anything, a book, a magazine or newspaper article, fiction or nonfiction, I like to have a sense when starting and as I continue through it how much there is to read.

Char Char Binks, Esq. said...

I like books, but I don't prize them above all other info and entertainment sources, and being a "book guy" is one of the dullest and least-coveted consolation prizes life has to offer.

FIDO said...

Hmm. I have read a book a day. It was a slow day and I was a very fast reader. I have since slowed down as my eyesight has crapped out and the internet takes more time.

But if you are a type A personality who can't sit for more than 20 minutes, it isn't going to happen.

Char Char Binks, Esq. said...

"Foodie" ranks lower than "book guy" as social-status consolation prizes go, as does "arsonist". Not much else does.

buwaya said...

When I was young I was also an extremely fast reader.
In fact they used to teach speed reading back then in schools.
Ours did.
I was an ace at that.
Was a fad.
I haven't heard of any US school doing that in the last 30 years.

I read Ayn Rands "The Fountainhead" in a day and an evening, as a teenager.
Even I couldn't do "Atlas Shrugged" in a day. Took two.

PuertoRicoSpaceport.com said...

I suspect that the problem is that most people are taught to read as I was, in the early 50's, word by word.

I learned to read that way in 1st or 2nd grade. Never really enjoyed it but could do it. It just seemed like a lot of tedious work.

Then, in 5th grade, we had an Australian houseguest for a week or 2. He must have seen me struggling or something because he told me "You don't know how to read. I'm going to teach you."

And in 30 minutes he did. He taught me to read a page at a time instead of a word at a time. I wish I knew what he told me. All I can say is that is it like one of those magic eye pictures where you can strain for years seeing nothing then, it clicks and you can never not see it.

I can "read" a book almost as fast as I can turn the pages. I don't get much out of it in the way of pleasure or detail but I can tell you the major points. I seldom read this fast but often do breeze through a book fairly quickly on a first reading to see if there is anything of interest. If there is, I slow down. If really interesting, I read it again. About a third to half of all books I read a second, third or fourth time. There's a dozen or so that I've read more than 20 times. I find something new each time that I had never noticed or considered before.

The other thing is, I can pick up a book where I left off, read for 10 minutes, and put it down again. For example, standing in line at the post office or waiting for my wife when shopping. Having a book (or 2) in progress on my phone at all times allows me to do that.

I usually eat lunch alone so there's another 45 minutes or so each day. I don't watch TV so usually read for an hour or two in bed before going to sleep.

And so on.

John Henry

gilbar said...

I think it was Wood Allen that said
I took a speed-reading course and read War and Peace in twenty minutes. It involves Russia.

Zach said...

He talks about TV getting good, but for my money they just repackaged the soap opera into different formats.

Mad Men started out with an interesting premise and a charismatic lead actor. The carousel speech at the end of season one is great.

By the end of season three, all of the drama was about what Character A had said to Character B, and what Character C was going to do in response. No more brilliant pitches, just internally driven drama. A soap opera wearing period clothes.

PuertoRicoSpaceport.com said...

Blogger Robert Cook said...

"One of the pretensions that I find particularly annoying is that the "experience" of reading paper books is better and makes one a better person."

Do people say that?


I can absolutely guarantee you that people have told me that I can't "appreciate" books read on a Kindle and that it is not the same "experience" as paper.

I prefer reading books on paper because it is simply physcally easier for me. Reading on a screen strains my eyes--though I have done it.

I find the opposite. I can adjust the brightness, I can have white on black instead of black on white (or pale green or sepia). I can change the margins, font and font size. Because of the way I read a page at a time, I never have to move my eyes from one side of the book to the other.

I now find holding a book, especially a bigger one, and manipulating the pages a pain in the neck. I've not read a paper book for pleasure since my son got me my first Kindle 7-8 years ago.

Another nice thing about Kindle is that I can click on any word and it will pop up both the dictionary entry and the Wikipedia entry in a window. There are lots of words that I don't know, exactly but can infer the meaning of or weren't critical. I used to just brush over them. Occasionally I would look them up. Now I use this feature all the time for any word I am in doubt of.

I also like the interactivity with Amazon. Say I am reading a book and an author, book or subject is mentioned that sounds interesting. 3 clicks and I can download a sample, usually the first chapter or 2, from the Kindle store. I probably have 150 or more samples on my tablet. Some of them I have read, some not. Some I will buy the whole book. But they sit there forming a reading list for when I am looking for something to read.

Lots of free books, too. I like Ron Chernow and his new autobiography of Grant is really interesting from the sample. I thought about buying it but then decided to look at Grant's own autobiography. It's even better and I am currently reading it for free rather than Chernow for $19. (Sorry Ann) I suspect I may still read Chernow eventually just because I really like the way he writes and Grant is much more interesting than I ever realized.

More to the point, I really like to know where I am in the book. My bookmark's location in a closed book tells me if I am approaching the end or still have a way to go.

Yes, and that is one thing I still am not quite used to even after all these years. Though in Kindle, it does tell you you location and page eg location 4927 of 12456 or page 92 of 500 as well as how many minutes left in the chapter at my current reading speed.

To each his/her own. I like Kindle, you like paper. No problem with me.

I think reading is the important thing. Not whether it is electronic or paper. I don't even think that what you read is as important as that you read.

John Henry

Michael K said...

I haven't heard of any US school doing that in the last 30 years.

A friend of mine arranged an Evelyn Wood class at the County Hospital when I was an intern and he was a resident. He and I used to have memory contests.

One time we got into an argument about whether human kidneys excrete creatinine. Dog kidneys don't and renal function tests were based on dog experiments. You had to add about 20% to results to get the equivalent human numbers.

He disagreed and so we all went down to the library to get the big textbook on renal function. He said the information was on page 455 (or some such) at the bottom of the page on the left side.

We all looked and there it was but he was wrong. Human kidneys do what I had said.

I never took the speed reading class.

langford peel said...

Actually the TV version of Game of Thrones is superior to the books.

I have read all of the books and had to continually pause the show to explain to everyone who was who in the early seasons. After season four it became much easier as they condensed the characters and tightened the stories.

George Rape Rape Martin is outclassed by many other science fiction/fantasy authors who didn't luck out and get an HBO series.

The humble brag is not watching TV.

Michael K said...

To each his/her own. I like Kindle, you like paper. No problem with me.

I read paper books most of the time but read my Kindle (which has 174 books) in bed or on airplanes.

In the car, I Iisten to audio books and have about 25 on my iPhone. We listen driving to California, which takes about 7 hours, or on my commute to Phoenix, which takes 1 1/2 hour each way.

I have books in different rooms and read parts but rarely read one through in one sitting.

Michael K said...


Blogger langford peel said...
Actually the TV version of Game of Thrones is superior to the books.


One of my daughters gave me the book but I have not read it.

Yancey Ward said...

I haven't scanned the thread, but has anyone already written the obligatory "I have never hear of Game of Thrones?"

Sam L. said...

I have lost interest in TV drama, comedy, and news. Laugh tracks irritate me. I don't watch HBO, and I've given up on GRR Martin.

langford peel said...

Try Vox Day's series. I think you will like it. Also SM Stirlings Emerverse books.

Comanche Voter said...

I'm a book guy; I do watch TV in moderaton--some news channels, some history channels and a bit of NFL and NBA. But as for television dramas or comedies--either version--I haven't watched those in decades.

Now you tell me that there are some things on television that are good. "It's changed! You would really really like it."

And I go into my 8 year old inner child that didn't like broccoli. And say, "No flippin' way Jose will I eat the "broccoli" on the "new" TV". Television drama fooled me once; it's not gonna fool me twice. But then y'll can watch and eat all the broccoli you want. People choose their diversions.

Robert Cook said...

"I can "read" a book almost as fast as I can turn the pages. I don't get much out of it in the way of pleasure or detail but I can tell you the major points. I seldom read this fast but often do breeze through a book fairly quickly on a first reading to see if there is anything of interest. If there is, I slow down. If really interesting, I read it again. About a third to half of all books I read a second, third or fourth time. There's a dozen or so that I've read more than 20 times. I find something new each time that I had never noticed or considered before."

Yes! Like...all the vowels!

mockturtle said...

Yancey Ward asks: I haven't scanned the thread, but has anyone already written the obligatory "I have never hear of Game of Thrones?"

I've heard of it only because of its mention on this blog. Never have watched it.

Robert Cook said...

I've never watched "Game of Thrones," either. No snobbery...I just haven't ever tried it and it's too far along for me to bother with. Plus, it doesn't innately intrigue me. I got my yen for swords and mayhem out of my system by reading plenty of Robert E. Howard and Edgar Rice Burroughs in my adolescence.

tim in vermont said...

My big problem with Kindle is that if you keep it in your back pocket, it tends to break. I actually chose books based on whether it will fit in my pocket. Reading Lord Jim right now, fits in my pocket.

Robert Cook said...

I admit I do have fetishistic relationship with physical books simply as objects. I will often take a book out of my bookshelf and just hold it or flip through it, and then replace it in place. I find it difficult to consider getting rid of books I know I will never read again, or even books I've had for years and never read!

tim in vermont said...

I think that the Epic of Gilgamesh pretty much covered fire breathing monsters who also tried to outsmart and deceive while protecting a treasure thousands of years ago.

Bilwick said...

I'm a book person--have been since boyhood--but never saw a conflict with liking some television. In fact, seeing things on tv often sparked my curiosity about subjects, which motivated me to read books. (Main examples, Walt Disney's Davy Crockett and "The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp starting my lifelong interest in reading frontier history.)

PuertoRicoSpaceport.com said...


Blogger tim in vermont said...

My big problem with Kindle is that if you keep it in your back pocket, it tends to break.

It's why I don't usually carry my Tablet/Kindle with me. Out of the house, I read on the Kindle app on my phone.

Reading Lord Jim right now, fits in my pocket.

I have Lord Jim in my pocket right now. Also, 30-40 of his books and novelas in a "Complete Conrad". I may also have a couple Librivox books of Conrad's in my pocket as well.

How are you enjoying Lord Jim? I love Conrad. Youth is one of the books that I've read more than 20 times. I've read many of his other books numerous times over the years. He is one of the authors that, when I don't know what to read next, I read.

I liked Lord Jim pretty well until he went into the village. About the first half. Then I find it a bit of a slog. The Librivox version is outstanding. Again, mainly the first half.

I find that when Conrad comes ashore, unless it is between ships or the like, kind of boring. He is a seagoing author. He is at his very best in the persona of Charlie Marlow. Which is actually him with some poetic license. I wish he had done more.

John Henry

PuertoRicoSpaceport.com said...

One other tip on Kindle,

The $50 kindle fire is a fantastic device. It is small enough to fit in a side pants pocket, great screen and features and if it breaks, it's $50 so no biggie. It is a great book reader and a good general purpose tablet. (Buy it via the portal.)

I recommend them to my clients for their mechanics and other technicians. Not for reading books but for having instant access to manuals, part inventories, wiring diagrams, work instructions and more. Put a QR code on a machine, the tech scans it and a page opens up with links to more info than you could ever need.

I mainly use mine for demos and as a backup when I travel. That is mainly because I prefer the larger screen of my Samsung tablet.

John Henry

Michael K said...

I find it difficult to consider getting rid of books I know I will never read again, or even books I've had for years and never read!

I have moved a couple of times the past 8 years and some of my books got lost. A few I gave away.

Now I am buying some back. I just ordered a hardcover version of "A Short History of Byzantium." that has vanished. I'll probably find it in a bookcase somewhere.

tim in vermont said...

I haven’t gotten past the seagoing part yet, so I can’t tell you, but I really like it so far, so we don’t disagree yet. I don’t like reading on my phone. I am not saying books are better, just that I like them better. Plus my phone is a constant distraction. Though I do ofter switch back and forth between audible and a printed book. If the book has manageable chapters, like Lord Jim.

tim in vermont said...

I find myself buying the Audible version, and printed version of the same book a lot, and switching back and forth. I don’t read nearly the number of books I used to, though I have never read them in the kind of quantities claimed here. If a book becomes a slog, but I want to finish it regardless for some reason, I listen to it for a while in the car. But I find that I much prefer the exposition parts, the introduction of characters, to be written.

tim in vermont said...

Genre books are easy to read in quantity, but I rarely read them. I have other ways to fritter away time.

langford peel said...

Frittering away time with genre books is far more entertaining and useful than arguing with Chuck and Inga on the Internet.

Talk about a waste of time.

langford peel said...

If you enjoy reading about the frontier check out the life of my namesake. He was one of the best untold stories in Western lore. They could make a great movie out of his life.

If only Hollywood had some talent.

Bilwick said...

"Frittering away time with genre books is far more entertaining and useful than arguing with Chuck and Inga on the Internet.

"Talk about a waste of time."

Indeed. Arguing with religionists of any kind is a waste of time, but especially when they are true-believers in the Cult of the State. I consider my time spent with Mack Boland ("The Executioner") far better spent than crossing swords with people who want to be serfs.

rcocean said...

I used to meet "I never watch TV" types *all* the time. Once, the internet came along, the whole thing disappeared.

Is being on the internet six hours a day, better than watching TV for six hours in the 1980s? Yes!

You have control on the internet. You are not a passive consumer, unless you want to be. Further, today you can record what you want on Cable TV, and whiz through the commercials or any boring programs. Of course, even with that, I rarely watch TV. "Games of Thrones" is OK. Its started out great, and gradually degenerated into a dull Action series. And not coincidentally that's when it became super-popular.

Further, the superiority of Books over TV is no longer valid because most books are shit today.

grimson said...

I've never watched even 5 minutes of "Game of Thrones."

That's not really fair. A series takes a season or two to find its voice, then sings its song for a few seasons before the plot and interest give out in the final season or two.

GOT is no different. Is it great? No, but it is fun--particularly the characters and their interactions.

Would AA like it? Probably not, but the women kick ass and are running circles around the men, which gets a little tiresome.

rcocean said...

Its astounding, when I go into my local library and look at Audiobooks I see 100 books by "Robert Patterson" or "Janet Evanovitch".

Good luck with finding anything by Hemingway, Tolstoy or even Philip Roth!

mockturtle said...

Further, the superiority of Books over TV is no longer valid because most books are shit today.

Don't read 'today's books.

buwaya said...

Re Conrad - Nostromo

Conrad is like one of those 19th century realist painters that fills a huge canvas with color, yet gets every tiny detail right. Nostromo is exactly that, as a novel.

Anonymous said...

rcocean: Its astounding, when I go into my local library and look at Audiobooks I see 100 books by "Robert Patterson" or "Janet Evanovitch".

Good luck with finding anything by Hemingway, Tolstoy or even Philip Roth!


I don't have any trouble finding audiobooks of "classics" I'd like to listen to, either at the library or via Amazon. The problem is the quality of the narration. Sometimes it's very good (recently listened to an excellent reading of Waugh's Sword of Honour trilogy), but too often the narrators have voices made for silent movies. But I admit I'm hypersensitive about voices.

Freeman Hunt said...

"So what do you do when television gets good — "Game of Thrones" and all that..."

If that counts as good maybe you weren't reading good books.

Freeman Hunt said...

Game of Thrones strikes me as old school Cinemax with elves.

(I don't know that elves are actually featured. Whatever. Dragons, elves, those sorts of things.)

William said...

Opinions differ, but my observation is that what with gravity, the aging process, and death, there's nothing much to recommend reality, and it should be avoided as much as possible. I like sci fi and fantasy movies. Death has no dominion in the GOT, at least for the main characters, and gravity and aging are negotiable. The special effects are quite good, and the world of GOT is far more palpable than the tawdry simulacrum where I presently reside.

stevew said...

I'm a little late perhaps, and too lazy to read through all the other comments, but FFS, why can't we consume the fiction and non-fiction that appeals to us in the medium (media) that most suits us? Is reading David Sedaris in hardcover better than reading him in paperback? On an e-reader? Listening to an audiobook? Watching a Netflix Original interpretation of his offering?

-sw

Michael K said...

too often the narrators have voices made for silent movies. But I admit I'm hypersensitive about voices.

Some of the audio books I listen to involve accents and these readers do a great job,

I listened to a series of the "Sharpe" series of Bernard Cornwell novels of the Napoleonic War.

The reader does Scot, British and Indian accents so well I had trouble following.

Howard said...

The lack of self-awareness is a common indicator of self absorption as demonstrated by Blogger William Chadwick said...

"Frittering away time with genre books is far more entertaining and useful than arguing with Chuck and Inga on the Internet.

"Talk about a waste of time."

Indeed. Arguing with religionists of any kind is a waste of time, but especially when they are true-believers in the Cult of the State. I consider my time spent with Mack Boland ("The Executioner") far better spent than crossing swords with people who want to be serfs.

8/4/18, 3:01 PM


Indeed

tim in vermont said...

Lous L’Amour is my guilty pleasure reading. And to be honest, I don’t feel that guilty about it.

Rory said...

Zach said: "He talks about TV getting good, but for my money they just repackaged the soap opera into different formats."

I think this is the key. Soap operas were long known to be the creative slum of entertainment but, show by show, they slowly co-opted everything. It used to be a cliche that if you said someone told you his whole life story, you were saying he was bore, but today showing the whole life story seems to be the creative goal.

langford peel said...

The Iliad was a Soap Opera.

Get over yourselves.

langford peel said...

It had all the basics of a soap opera.

Infidelity. Slutty housewives who run away from their husbands. Homos.

The only thing they are missing are commercials for detergent.

langford peel said...

If you enjoyed Louis L'Amour then you should give Elmer Kelton a try. He is almost his equal.

Michael K said...

Blogger tim in vermont said...
Lous L’Amour is my guilty pleasure reading. And to be honest, I don’t feel that guilty about it.


One of these days (not in summer) Im going to research a couple of his locations.

Especially Hondo" which is located eat of Fort Huachuca.

mockturtle said...

Michael K remarks: One of these days (not in summer) Im going to research a couple of his locations.

Especially Hondo" which is located eat of Fort Huachuca.


Have you been to the Chiricahua Mountains yet? Awesome scenery and great birding.

langford peel said...

I have and you are absolutely right mockturtle.

I have visited many historical Western sites including Deadwood and Tombstone. Some of them are real tourist traps but still fun to visit.

FIDO said...

Meh. The Article Writer and a few of the commenters remind me of that douchenozzle in 'Kiss the Girls' (on Ms. Althouses banned list)

There you had a pretentious Academic who only drank 'Futuko' water, melted from the bluest of iceburgs, and couldn't lower himself to NORMAL sex. No, he had to do weird bondage sex...with students.

He was WAY to smart to be caught and would probably also sneer at any popular media

Tools are tools.

tim in vermont said...

What I like about Louis L’Amour is the authentic detail. OK, I don’t really know if it is authentic or not, but if it isn’t, he can sure fake it. Intelligent writing is intelligent writing, wherever you find it. His views on women, I am sure Althouse would find impossibly retrograde, but it is interesting to see characters put into a situation of complete self-reliance, no phone to dial 911, not even a Federal Marshall in ten counties.

He was WAY to smart to be caught and would probably also sneer at any popular media

You. would never sneer at anything, I bet...

Njall said...

There are a lot of great, “book guy” books, that can be read in one day: The Stranger. One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich. A Walk in the Sun. Brave New World. Man’s Search for Meaning. Night. Day. Germania. Works and Days.

Njall said...

I am currently reading The Greeks and the Irrational, an Introduction to Homeric Greek, Also Sprach Zarathustra (auf Deutsch), and the Road Past Mandalay...I usually read two language books, one philosophy, and one entertainment book at a time. And I will happily watch Shark Week, Pawn Stars, Friends, Modern Family, and Naked and Afraid.

And that, my friends, is how a humble brag is done.

mockturtle said...

I admit to enjoying Forged in Fire.

Michael K said...

Have you been to the Chiricahua Mountains yet? Awesome scenery and great birding.

Nope. On the list.

My friends' ranch has a burnt out old ranch house near Huachuca that was destroyed by Apaches back in the 1880s.

Their ranch manager's house was the next ranch house and has loopholes. They have a new ranch house nearby,

Bilwick said...

Re Louis L'Amour, I have only visited the location of a couple of his novels (Southeastern Arizona from Tucson to the AZ-NM line) and Southwestern New Mexico; so pretty much I can't comment on most of his geographical/topographical background; but from reading a lot of frontier history for the past forty years, I'd say the rest of his stuff is pretty authentic.

Bilwick said...


"Further, the superiority of Books over TV is no longer valid because most books are shit today."

I haven't read most books so I couldn't say.

Robert Cook said...

"Further, the superiority of Books over TV is no longer valid because most books are shit today."


There are still countless old good books that one hasn't read, or that one should re-read. (Any worthwhile book will reward re-reading.)

mockturtle said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
mockturtle said...

Cookie writes: There are still countless old good books that one hasn't read, or that one should re-read.

Yes, thank God! I would always prefer to re-read a really good old book than read a recent publication. Some people give them to me as gifts and I'm nearly always disappointed. Even those that got 'rave' reviews.