Though I’m not at home in the evening a lot, I have noticed that the offerings on almost every one of our television stations ranges from “who cares” to “I don’t believe that’s on television.” I’m an old movie fanatic, personally. So Turner Classic is one of my favorites and I have an extensive collection of DVDs of my favorites. My eclectic tastes tend to drift all across the board, from the wackiest screwball comedies (His Girl Friday, anyone) to dreadful sci-fi and horror films with near-cult followings. I’m sure some of my favorite moments as a child in a movie house chilled to bone-shivering temps, dipping into boxes of popcorn and slurping sodas, while shoveling out Milk Duds to my brother to keep his hand out of my snack.
I was of the television generation, too. As I look back, I guess those old shows weren’t that great, not so well-written, but there were some examples of what could be termed “good” television. We may not have had many channels or shows, but we at least had interesting shows. Now, however, I’m not sure it’s worth the electricity to turn the set on and I’m really not sure why I’m shelling out so much money for a satellite dish. We have become overrun with reality shows and freak shows.
What’s the deal with reality shows? Like the ones where multiple members of either sex gather at a secluded home to compete for the heart of a lonely single man/woman. Does anybody really think this ‘match made on tv’ last? Personally, on the one and only occasion I watched it (trapped at a friend’s house), I became uncomfortably aware (well, okay, I really kind of knew it already) that members of my own sex are totally vicious when one of our own has something they want. They’ll knock out the competition with a light saber and not even wince over the blood.
If I wanted reality, I’d stay longer at all those meetings I have to attend. Please, all I want is something that takes me away to a land of relaxation. What’s wrong with a good romance (yes, I’m one of those) or a bloody murder mystery?
It’s not just that I’ve been a professional book reviewer for over a decade. I’ve had a lifelong love of reading and, quite frankly, I find the imagination that goes into books is at least worth the price of entry. There’s variety, effort, talent, energy and creativity when I open a book. Heck, even a bad book is better than some of the best television has to offer. I’m not sure if that’s a reflection on the writing or the acting or just generally an indication of lowering standards down to the lowest common denominator.
My loves have always been found in books. My children’s names were found in books. I’ve fallen in love with Holden Caufield, battled with pirates right along with young Jim, and taken trips on rivers far from my home with young Huck. I’ve learned about painting fences from Tom Sawyer and shivered my way through a sleepless night because of a Cask of Amontillado.
I’m a speed reader- which comes in pretty handy for the amount of paperwork that crosses my desk- but when I sit down with a book, I tend to slow down and savor, enjoy the moment, the way I do the truffles I receive from my daughter’s friend each Christmas. They are to be nibbled at, held in the mouth, and rolled across the tongue the way a good writer’s words echo through the mind and enrich the soul.
I will read just about anything, in any category. I’m not ashamed to admit I love reading romances- all kinds. I’m looking for what the groupies call a HEA (happily ever after, for the uninitiated). Yes, they’re fairy tales for grown women. What’s wrong with a fairy tale? I can still remember my father’s voice as he sat by my sickbed and read to me-his favorites were bible stories and endless fairy tales. Why would I outgrow something so comforting.
I love a good mystery. I like it when my palms sweat, my heart races and each sound of the house settling around me has me quivering. I love speeding through pages to get to the epiphany and find out if I’ve figured out whodunnit.
I’m captivated with the nuances of language. Images flit across my mind that have been evoked by just the right turn of phrase. It’s a gift and seems that the fiction writer lifts us out of our own complicated existences and paints us into an exciting adventure whose colors don’t run, but instead get richer as each page turns.
I’m getting ready to curl up with a cup of tea, a warm throw and my chosen book of the night, maybe with some music in the background. I’m sure I’ll be having a better time than anyone who’s fixated on that glowing tube in the living room.
Cooper, a Peachtree City resident for 24 years, has been a book reviewer, writer and editor for several national magazines since her original stint at Fayette Newspapers, Inc.