I actually finished a book last week. My partner and I subscribe to about six or seven magazines, so sometimes we find it difficult to reign ourselves in from distraction from longer works, both fiction and non. For the record, she is much better at avoiding distraction from novels than I and somehow manages to read longer, more densely written novels in the time it would take me to read a no less complex but much shorter novel like Henderson the Rain King, by Saul Bellow. Two years ago the opposite was true. It would seem that she gains cerebral acuity while I, sadly, am losing it.
I am, like many nerds and other such people that are awesome, extremely excited about the forthcoming adaptation of Watchmen, by Alan Moore. It is bittersweet, for Moore has already said that he has no intentions of viewing this adaptation and (I’m assuming this by his tone) does not really approve of the fact that this film has been made. If you peruse the Wikipedia entry on Moore's greatest work you can study up on his numerous conflicts with publishers involving creative rights, etc. Zack Snyder of 300 fame helmed the whole affair and from the previews the end product looks like something to be reckoned with. But this isn’t really about the film. This is about the graphic novel.
Heavyweights are typically read, if at all, in college. Then they are forgotten. If the person keeps reading, perhaps he or she will come across popular lighter books rather than the older, weightier Classic side of things. By heavyweights, I mean the Canon.
Heavyweights are the books you mention at parties that make people say “Oh,” expressively before running off to find a drink rather than talk to the book snob. Mention it the first time you meet someone and you’ll forever be labeled the intellectual, for better of for worse. Often for worse, as heavyweights get a bad rap for being too heavy or too hard to read.
A survey from the National Endowment for the Arts has come out for 2008 with the statistic the percentage of American’s who read is up for the first time since 1982. The survey asks adults over 18 if they have read a book, play, short story or poem in the last year. Today, roughly 50.2 % of Americans read fiction.
This is good news, or is it? The question asks if people have read at least 1 book in the last year. Half the people in this country haven’t read that one book. This figure stands in stark contrast to European reading statistics, which are higher overall. While I won’t restate the cliché that Americans are stupid, I will say that I’m not overly impressed with half the population right now.
The American Library Association regularly publishes a list of the 10 most frequently challenged or banned books. A book is "challenged" when someone at a local school or library or in a community thinks the book should be banned. I'm going to specifically address a single banned book; the fifth on the list for 2007; Mark Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, which is usually banned for "racism."