I have many friends who read books. I know that sounds crazy, but it is true. Some of my crazier friends go to a place called “The Library”, where I hear you can get books for free. Now there is a catch. If you ever find yourself in a building called a library, they are going to ask you for a library card. If you show them that card all the books are free, however there is another catch. These very strict employees, lets call them librarians, will ask you to eventually return those books that you take for free. If you do not return those books, they will impose a fine and then the books are no longer free. The good news is you can ignore those requests for money, because every year, libraries declare a day of amnesty, where all overdue books can be returned for free. This is the busiest day of the year at libraries, as people return their long overdue books, and then take out more books as the cycle continues.
Now some of my richer friends by books at places they call book stores. You see them in the mall usually with a “Going out of Business” sign in the window. The nice thing is you do not need a library card to get those books. You might need a credit card, but having never purchased a book that is just an assumption on my part.
For the more technically advanced readers, there are fancy machines recently invented called E-readers. To be considered an official E-reader your title must have the letter “K” as part of its name. Kobo, Kindle to the more advanced versions of Etch A SKetch follow that rule of “K”. “Special K” applied as a cereal reader, but the E-Reader industry rejected their application, as the words on their cereal box did not develop their characters. The “Special K’s” clever company lawyers pointed out that Kellog’s has a “K’ and this double “K” status, forced the E-reader industry to reconsider their proposal. The Special K cereal box reader will be launched early next year.
Amazon started as a book company, but soon discovered that nobody reads anymore. At a secret executive meeting the business heads decided that they did not want to file for bankruptcy. In a desperate move they proposed to sell everything that didn’t look like a book and soon became the most successful company in the world. To honour their roots, and to keep the nostalgia of the company alive, Amazon will sell you a book if you ask nicely.
I have many well-read colleagues, and though I never ask them “Have you read any good books lately?” they some how seem to work that information into our casual conversations.
Me: Are you going to pay for my coffee?
Book Reading Friend: Sure that reminds of this great Vampire book I am reading where the vampire never has any loose change when he goes to the 24 hour coffee shop. The metaphor the author is cleverly showing is that Vampires are blood sucking mooches.
I decided to explore this topic to better understand this dwindling attraction of book reading. I began to ask myself some questions. The problem is whenever I ask myself questions I am constantly disappointed with my answers. This is probably due to the fact that I don’t read. To move this project forward, I decided to ask those self-questions to other people. I was amazed at the better quality of answers I received when I expanded my approach to this research.
The question that seemed to get the best response from others was, “Why do you read books?”
The answers ranged from, “I don’t read books.” but that was during the early self question stage. To “I like to learn.” That answer was very interesting to me so I followed up with the next obvious question, “ I thought learning ended with your last day at school?”
Occasionally people offered answers to questions that I didn’t even ask. I think we can all agree how annoying that can be. These answers to unasked questions also damaged the integrity of my survey. I quickly abandoned my desire to be literate and moved to the lower objective of being curious. The bookworms (which is the perfect descriptor of these low life literates) shared their penchant for reading. In the end I discovered that books, teach you something and very good books leave you with a feeling of wanting you to know more.
Well that was the kind of information I needed to see if I had any literal understanding of literature. Was it literal of figurative understanding I was seeking? I never remember the difference with those two words, because I tried reading the dictionary once, but when I got to Aardvark, it scared me a little, so I stopped reading. Whatever is the most appropriate one, I took to applying this to the only form of literature I currently read… Graffiti.
Like good books good graffiti teaches you something and superior graffiti forces the reader to want to learn more. Graffiti is also not the longest form of literature, and can often be absorbed during even he quickest trip to a public washroom.
“Johnny loves Mary” teaches you that Johnny loves Mary. It does not satisfy your full understanding of this relationship. You absolutely want to know if Mary loves Johnny, and what kind of car does Johnny drive? The hallmark of great literature has been addressed. Learn something and want to learn more.
My introduction to this type of literature occurred late in my high school years. Bathroom stalls were virtual art galleries filled with short literary prose.
I would give my left arm to be ambidextrous
Don’t throw toothpicks in the toilet. Crabs can pole vault
Other art forms caught on to this unique expression of words. It was exploited by heavy metal bands in the 1970s. Physical Graffiti, the double album by Led Zepplin, tried to capitalize on this unappreciated writing form. Like most double albums they offered way too many songs to listen to, and even misspelled one the titles. Kashmir was supposed to be Cashmere, and I still always wear my ratty old cashmere cardigan sweater when I listen to that song. Rarely do I brag, but I will here. Cashmere cardigan sweaters are the closest form of fashion that immediately becomes an irresistible chick magnet. Ask any lady you know.
Sometimes the washroom stalls held inappropriate vindictive messaging from a bad high school breakup.
“For a good time call Mary ###- 6774”. Those were simpler times before one had to dial the area code for a good time. Now my curiosity got the best of me as I needed to learn more. I went to school very early one day to learn if my literary knowledge was gender specific. I sneaked into the female washroom in my quest to learn more and I discovered similar great literature. For a good time call Bill ### 6723. I of course took my pen and added For a mediocre time call Dennis ### 3113. Under promise and under deliver.
My university days elevated the quality of my literary experience. Washrooms were now blank pages for the intellectual authors who had weak bladders.
Say perhaps to drugs
When did I eat corn?
My learning continued as I got smarter and my thirst to know more grew. I diversified and began to read spray painted words on brick walls. Perhaps if authors used spray paint I might read more books.
More people should be named Louisa
There is no sense arguing when literature reaches perfection, just ask Louisa.
Yesterday while visiting a rest room at a truck stop in a town I cannot pronounce, I read one more piece of literary magic. “Black Panther is a Good Movie” was written at eye level of a urinal that hadn’t been cleaned since the Eisenhower administration. It was written with a black sharpie to ensure legibility. Once again I immediately learned that this is a good movie… or is it? I needed to learn more so I will be seeing this movie on the weekend and will return to comment next time I am at that truck stop.
Great graffiti will have a comment on the original prose. This is language that keeps on giving, even when the establishment rejects this form of a brilliantly written literal, or is that figurative message.
Bill Posters will be Prosecuted
Bill Posters is an innocent man.
Cue the Blong, My Old High School where most of my learning ended.