One Reporter's Ramblings: Can you name any book?

Can you name a book? Any book?

This was a question posed to passersby by the crew at Jimmy Kimmel Live, citing a recent survey by the Pew Research Group that said nearly 25 percent of Americans haven’t read a book in the past year.

I’m sure there were people who could, but the show got enough stammering and embarrassed looks to make its point.

One person confidently said “The Jungle Book,” but then admitted he didn’t know if it was a book as well as a movie.

Another cited the book, “Horse” by the author, Moby Dick. That’s not a thing. You don’t have to look it up.

The segment ended with the crew asking the respondents the last book they hard read, to which several said “Dr. Seuss.”

If I’m being fair, people get nervous when you put a camera in their face and tell them they’ll be on national television. One of the people who couldn’t think of a single book was a former librarian and it’s easy to tell she was flustered and just blanking in the moment. 

The more telling and troubling thing to me was that so many leapt to admit they hadn’t read anything in years.

That doesn’t make me worry because I’m a reporter and aspiring writer. It makes me worry because so many have given up on a viable means of education and entertainment.

Ask anyone if the book or movie is better and they’ll all say the book. It’s not necessary to clarify the title since it’s just become a foregone conclusion mostly because the original work is usually more, well, original.

The education aspect is what people are truly missing if they stop picking up books once they’re no longer required to read.

Books obviously teach language skills, but nonfiction can give you insight into historical and modern day conflicts or even how to build a cabinet. (There are books for how to build anything. I guess I’ve just got cabinets on the brain.)

The biggest lesson books can teach us is one we should never stop learning though: empathy. There have been articles written about how Harry Potter taught empathy to those who have read it as children, but it’s something communicated by any text with insight into a character or author’s mind. 

We have so much divisiveness that can really only be cured by listening to the other side. If you don’t understand another’s viewpoint, communication will invariably break down.

Summer is once again upon us, bringing the return of the Summer Reading Club at the Dublin Public Library. Summer Reading challenges all ages to pick up as many books as they can during these hot, humid months. If you don’t take that challenge, visit and pick up one book that interests you. 

You just might learn something.

Paul Gaudette is a staff writer at the Dublin Citizen and can be reached at 445-2515 and report@dublincitizen.com.

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