Back in September, Random House posted a photo on its Facebook page captioned “A book commits suicide every time you watch Jersey Shore.” I wondered briefly who from RH had been monitoring my thoughts (time to get out the aluminum foil) and how much they were paying for thought-monitoring. Then I did the Snoopy Dance of Joy in front of my computer.
We’ll set aside the fact that I am appalled by everything I’ve read about Snooki, Pauly D, the Situation, et al, and that I loathe the idea of anyone making a judgment about Americans (and me by association) based on what they might have seen on the television show called Jersey Shore. Because it’s only fair to point out I’ve never watched it.
I quit watching television cold turkey in the fall of 1997 during an episode of ER. I was a single mom working two jobs outside the home while copyediting and -writing in my spare time. On this particular night I’d returned home from the second job and had some writing I needed to do … but I didn’t want to miss my fave show. So I was watching and writing. (Anyone who’s written anything knows what a ridiculous statement that is.)
And then I had an epiphany: I could schedule my life around television programming … or not. I reached over and turned the television off, and that, my friends, was that. Aside from sporting events, the Weather Channel, and the occasional really huge news event (11 September 2001, say), I don’t watch television.*
I have never missed it. If I am ever tempted, I hold the remote in one hand and a book in the other. The book wins every time.
Which is why I got such a kick out of a little piece I saw in Entertainment Weekly called Book Swap (“Trade a fave movie or show for a great book”). This is something I can get behind. “Love Moneyball (the movie)?” EW asks. “Try The Art of Fielding. Love Prime Suspect? Try The End of the Wasp Season.”
I don’t think all television is bad. (*This would be the appropriate place for my true confession. The Boy came home one Christmas with three seasons of the television show Lost on DVD. “You’ll like this, Mom,” he said. He was right; I did. It was a fine show and really engaged the mind. But then it was over and I quite happily went back to my televisionless life.) And there are plenty of movies I’ve liked very, very much. (It was a movie, you’ll recall, that got the Boy interested in reading books.)
No, it’s just that I think moving pictures are no substitute for the good that can come from reading a book. And I read a lot more books now that I don’t watch television.
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