Men don’t read

Jon Talton has read so many books that he can no longer stand up straight.

I really, truly think it’s a shame that, as “Rogue Columnist” Jon Talton points out, fewer men are reading books these days.  Honest!  I do!  However, I strongly disagree with many of the points Talton makes in his piece.  I tried to make some counter-arguements in a longer version of this post, but failed due to constraints of time and space.  Maybe one day I’ll try again.

For now, though, my main annoyance with Talton’s post is this: I don’t know if “our society’s collapse into widespread anti-intellectualism” is really happening, but even the most rabid anti-intellectualism would be entirely justified if intellectuals, following Talton’s lead, started going around calling people “simpletons” who live in “mental poverty” just because they don’t read as many books as he does.

I also strongly, but much less strongly, object to Talton’s blanket dismissal of graphic novels. Daniel Clowes’s Eightball #23 (The Death Ray), for instance, is every bit as good and smart and challenging as a really smashing short story.

In closing, books are great, and you should do your best to encourage everyone to read more books, but for God’s sake please don’t be a jerk about it.  And there’s nothing shameful about reading comic books.

-Norm De Plume

Published in: on September 15, 2011 at 5:43 pm  Comments (2)  

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I started and then immediately stopped paying attention to Talton when he wrote a despicable hit piece on Cincinnati while he was breezing through in 2009, presumably to attend a book-signing devoid of any men. In his own mind, he really “understood” Cincinnati from his bar stool at the Palm Court and a quick drive through his old town.

    Like his piece on Cincinnati, Talton has taken a few anecdotes and sloppily developed a thesis in his entry about men not reading. He references precisely one survey (he does not cite it) as evidence we are all Neanderthals. The remainder of his post isn’t so much about men, but about how he thinks no one reads, or at least they don’t read what he thinks they should.

    I’m not willing to acknowledge his thesis that men–or women–don’t read anymore. I think people read differently. We often decry the computer, but I would suggest that people read even more now because of the instant availability of reading material. Just because it is online (or with graphics as you suggest) does not mean it can’t be as informative and enjoyable as an old-school book.

    Count me as old school. Like Talton, I still like an actual book. However, some of the most stimulating information I’ve read in the past few years has been on websites, through social media, and even on personal blogs. With the exception, of course, of Mr. Talton’s.

  2. I couldn’t agree more. Well put, Brendon.


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