My favorite line in To Kill a Mockingbird – the only one I remember, in fact – referred to Scout’s reading. “Until I feared I would lose it, I never loved to read. One does not love breathing.” I remember, the first time I read those words, that my breath caught in my throat. Nothing had ever made as much sense to me as those two sentences. It feels strange saying, “I love to read.” “I love books” is more accurate.
And I do. I love everything about books from the weight in my hands to the flutter of the pages to the smell of the ink. But do you know what else I love?
A really good TV show…and maybe a dozen movies.
Groucho Marx may have believed the only thing television was good for was to encourage him to read, but I don’t. Television is just another medium through which we can share stories with each other.
Yes, there are TV shows that are mind-numbing, bordering on brainwashing, but there are also uplifting ones. Make fun of me if you want, but Liv and Maddie and Kim Possible taught me more about “girl power” than any book I’ve ever read. I’ve seen shows that make me question the nature of good and evil, the power of destiny, and my own ability to be a friend. And besides that, I’ve seen some shows that are just damn good stories, stories that inspire me creatively and keep me hooked throughout. These shows have taught me how to develop characters in my writing and the different ways one can tie a story together.
This week, I have spent about 14 hours watching The Flash, a show that fits both of those categories. You may argue that time could have been better spent doing other things or, yes, reading. But I’m writing a story that I’m excited about and thinking more complexly than I have in a while. When a story does that to you, no matter which medium it’s told through, it’s worth the time you take to consume it.
But hey: today is Book Club Thursday, so let’s talk books. Below is a list of some books on my shelf. The time I spent reading these particular books would have been better spent with a better story – even a television one. Because, yes, there are thoughtless, mind-numbing books out there too.
- Down and Out in Magic Kingdom by Cory Doctorow
- Struwwelpeter by Heinrich Hoffmann
- On the Road by Jack Kerouac
- I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell by Tucker Max
- Hatchet by Gary Paulsen
- Shopgirl by Steve Martin
And these are just the books I hated as I was reading them. Don’t get me started on the books I read and, in looking back, realized were rotting my brain in very specific ways (coughTwilightcough).
Obviously, you may disagree with which books I put on this list, but the point is that we all have a list. Bad stories come in all forms, as do good ones. If you think all TV does is rot your brain, you’re probably watching the wrong shows.
Don’t worry. I’ve got some recommendations for you.