We’re Reading Books Again (Blame the Networks and Piss Poor Sex)

If the average person checks their phone three minutes after sex, no wonder we’re reading books again. Sex used to be fun. Now it’s a break between online chats and Game of Thrones.

Boredom is obviously setting in, and where there’s boredom, there’re books. Believe it or not, if people aren’t texting or watching TV, they’re reading.

Words have filled pages for thousands of years (longer if you believe in extraterrestrials), yet this half decade, experts have claimed those days will soon be over. Digital readers are about to send hardcovers and paperbacks to the dusty confines of antique stores and flea markets.

Europe is said to be 70 percent e-book already. Supposedly America will catch up, as soon as sitcoms go into permanent reruns (which they have), and sex starts being overlooked entirely (which it has).

That was the prediction, anyway.

One problem, though. Take away sex and reruns and there’s only so much digital media we can take. Eventually our eyes burn from scrolling. We get headaches — which gets us out of sex — but they’re headaches just the same. What literate or semi-literate person isn’t going to look for an alternative (besides going outside, which isn’t an alternative for many people)?

No, the answer is books. Hardcover, softcover, old, new, whatever gets people out of the bedroom and off the couch. Not that they’re actually off the couch. They’re simply reading on the couch. As long as they’re reading, they can’t stuff both hands down their pants, which used to suggest they were ready for sex, but now they’re just trying to get circulation back.

Books keep both hands visible, not to mention exercising the reader’s lips (40 percent of people move their lips when they read). It’s not exactly training for a triathlon, but at least it’s something. How much lip movement were they getting during Game of Thrones or sex? How many people have sex during Game of Thrones? You know, kill two birds with one stone.

The fact that the average person checks their messages three minutes after sex suggests lips haven’t been getting nearly enough exercise. Some people lost all feeling in their lips, blaming it on jalapeno chips. The real culprit was (and is) reruns. When you’ve memorized every episode of Three and a Half Men, who cares if you can mouth the words. It still isn’t funny.

People are finally rediscovering the true value of books. It isn’t literacy, it’s exercise. When Stieg Larsson’s Girl With the Dragon Tattoo came out, people noticed a definite improvement in arm musculature. Those who went back to James Michener’s stuff found improved shoulder development as well, especially with the hardcover editions of Chesapeake and The Caribbean.

Books (depending on the size) definitely build strong bones and strong minds. Reading a stack of books could actually prepare you for a triathlon (if you also do, you know, the riding, swimming and running).

And let’s not forget the hand-eye coordination required for a good ol’ page turner. If Grand Theft Auto develops our reflexes, think what we get out of Harris’s Silence of the Lambs. Think how much diaphragm improvement we achieve with Kennedy’s Confederacy of Dunces.

So just how far have we come in this resurgence of reading? As of early December 2015, around 571 million paper books were sold in the U.S. — a modest but noticeable increase over the 559 million sold in 2014 (Nielson).

Go back to 2013, though, and you see a dramatic rise of over 20 percent, something experts can’t account for (other than reruns and lousy sex).

Now, some things have happened — good things, actually. A couple of very bright women, J.K. Rowling and Harper Lee (now deceased), put out books the buying public had to have in physical form. Lee’s Go Set A Watchman, sold four times as many hard copies as e-books, and Rowling’s Harry Potter series — well, you don’t want to go there. Let’s just say physical copies are way beyond e-readers.

You’d think kids would be embracing digital, but they’re the ones asking their parents for hard copies. Same goes for the general public, according to a Pew Study. They found fewer Americans are buying e-reading devices like Kindles and Nooks. They were supposed to be the beachhead, but I guess you can’t predict America’s taste for literature or its delivery system.

All we can predict is a continued growth in book sales, something we should be eternally grateful for. So thank you networks and cable and some of the really lousy action movies out there (Hollywood, you’re blowing it). And a special thanks to piss poor sex. Without that, we might still be putting our books on the nightstand and having a romp.

Why do you think we’re reading more books? Let me know at rcormack@rogers.com

About the Author

Robert Cormack is a freelance copywriter, journalist, humorist and novelist. His first novel “You Can Lead a Horse to Water (But You Can’t Make It Scuba Dive)” is available online and at most major bookstores. Check out Yucca Publishing or Skyhorse Press for details (you can order from them as well).

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