Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Is it me, or are books being dumbed down?

I'll confess right up front that I'm a read-aholic. If I go to your bathroom and you don't have something to read, I'll find a shampoo bottle label to peer at while I do my business... Most people are nice enough to at least leave a magazine laying around so I rarely resort to bottles thank goodness!

Being a voracious, and eclectic. reader it seems to me that I'm noticing a trend in books. They're being dumbed down. Authors are making their sentences shorter and they've using fewer "big" words. You know, the difficult words like "voracious" and "eclectic". Sentence structure is 1st - 3rd grade reader level in many books now, or so it seems.

I used to love reading James Patterson. Maybe it's me, but I zip through one of his books in less than an hour now and feel like the meat is missing. Ditto with Stuart Woods. They're entertaining but nothing you can sink your reading teeth into. I won't buy the hardbacks and only pick them up used to read as fillers when the really good stuff runs out.

I've also stopped reading another of my used-to-be-favorites, Patricia Cornwell. I don't know that she has dumbed down her writing style as the last book I bought was the one on Jack the Ripper, but she changed her style and lost me. That's just a peculiarity of mine though, I think she probably got bored writing in the same-old same-old and changed things up a bit. I guess it's time to check her out again to see if she's gone back to her old style.

Another thing while I'm complaining. Is it me or have more of our favorite authors come out of the closet regarding their political leanings? I get really tired of reading the slanted view of conservatives or Republicans in books. If they want to make someone a bogey man, many authors slide in that he's a nasty Republican. They'll talk about a bad character who steals from little children to make a buck and note they've been Republicans for generations.

Sometimes it's not quite that blatant. They just make the good guy a Democrat who loves everyone, saves the day and helps the poor. The liberal President is an almost saint who is so huggable and lovable when they do something questionable.

If you read enough a very clear image of snobby, rich, white Republicans or conservatives comes through in many of our fictional books. Add that to the way many in Hollywood portray conservatives and it's a wonder college kids are surrounding their Republican neighbors houses holding pitch forks.

I always encourage parents to read the books their children are reading. I have read the entire Harry Potter series, the Twilight series and pretty much any book that catches the attention of our kids. Recently I picked up two of the Wicked series books at a book sale. I have to say that for the first time in my entire life I threw a book way. I threw both books in the trash. I'll let you read them for yourself to discover why. I think you should, although I suggest you pick them up used rather than pay face value.

I don't know where the country or the world is heading. I know that the books we read help to shape our view of the world and they are a mirror of all that's happening in the world. It bothers me that authors and editors are seemingly taking the reading level of popular books down a notch or two or ten. It also bothers me that incorrect pictures of certain segments of our population are being painted by popular authors.

I'm thrilled that the majority of books on the best seller lists are written by conservatives. I found it interesting that the Liberal elements were pushing to have a separate conservative best seller list!

Excuse me if I stop with more to write whirling around in my brain... I'm in the middle of a really good book and I must find out what happens next...

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