I find it incredible how many people think of reading as one of the most painful acts on the face of the Earth. To some people, if you gave them the option of sitting down and reading a 300 page book or having an anal probe, they would scoff at the notion of opening a book and bend over. To me, that just seems wrong.
All of this came to light again today as I sat in the bar at work, just hanging out, waiting to see if Juice (one of my managers) was going to need me to start. I had opened the bar as a "training exercise" and volunteered to sit tight in case we got busy. To occupy my time, I brought Magical Thinking by Augusten Burroughs.
Note: Not bad so far, especially when I only paid $4 for it at Chapters last week. Really, how bad would a book have to be to not be worth $4?
Of the collection of people in the restaurant at the time, one shared my love of books and Chapters, two were entirely non-committal and two were astounded that anyone would choose to open a book of their own free will, let alone make it through 56 pages in roughly an hour.
While I know my stance on this might be skewed by the fact that I intend to make my living (and hopefully a modest one at that) off people being interested in reading, the fact that reading makes some people's skin crawl is mind-blowing to me.
As the NBA taught me years ago through All-Star laden Public Service Announcements, Reading is Fun-damental!
Without reading, I never would have become a writer, because I never would have encountered the subjects of today's Rundown.
All-Time Top Five Books
5. Rebels of the Backlot by Sharon Waxman
As has been mentioned a time or two, I like movies. I also like books about movies or books that become movies, as you'll see shortly. This effort is a behind-the-scenes look into the careers of six of the biggest and brightest directors in Hollywood today - Tarantino, Sodderberg, David O. Russell, Spike Jonze and Paul Thomas Anderson. If you don't know these names, you (a) have missed some really good movies and (b) would absolutely hate this book. If you have any interest in Hollywood, the film industry or what it would be like to get into an argument with George Clooney while filming Three Kings, find this book and read it.
4. Everything Bad is Good for You by Stephen Johnson
As part of the video game, music video, Reality TV generation, I've been told countless times how all of today's technology and entertainment mediums and everything else in the world is making me dumber. Finding a book that actually proves that we're becoming smarter and more intellectually advanced as a result of all these things is outstanding. Seriously, this book is a well-researched middle finger to parents everywhere who told their kids that watching too much TV or playing too much Nintendo would rot their brains.
3. High Fidelity by Nick Hornby
Seeing the movie made me want to read the book. I loved the movie - it's #1 on the All-Time Top Five if you recall - and since the old standing truism is that the book is always better than the movie, I had to find out for myself. Since reading High Fidelity, I've read everything else Hornby has put out, except for his most recent effort Slam, since it's geared to teens and I'm painfully far removed from the teenage demographic. Anyway, the book was better than the movie, though not by much. Then again, it's my favourite movie ever, so being even a ounce better is pretty damn impressive.
2. Thank You For Smoking by Christopher Buckley
Back-to-back book to movie adaptations near the top of the charts, where both hit the Top Five on my movie list too. While the movie rankings for these two efforts are reversed, Buckley's book has a lot more to offer that wasn't brought to the screen and therefore bests Hornby's best effort. Maybe having seen Aaron Eckhart play Nick Naylor so perfectly on screen influenced my enjoyment of the book. But if biases came into play, I would have hated the character Heather Holloway because Katie "Kate Cruise" Holmes brought her to life on camera and I downright loathe the former Joey Potter. That wasn't the case though. I loved everything about this book, including Ms. Holloway, dirty, scheming tramp that she is.
1. Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs by Chuck Klosterman
Imagine opening a book and finding everything you have ever thought of on the pages before you. That is what this book is to me. I've wondered about the suddenly enormous amounts of "Housewife Sluts" willing to pose nude since the rise in cultural relevance of the Internet. I too have known since I first saw Say Anything that every woman wants to be with a guy like Lloyd Dobbler and I would never quite make it to his level of excellence. Klosterman seemingly tapped into my brain - or that of every other Pop Culture Obsessive with the attention span of a gnat - when putting together this collection. Everything he has done has struck a chord with me, but this one was first and it will probably always remain that way.