Reading can damage your ignorance

ELIGHTENMENT: Reading remains popular whereas TV viewing is dropping

IT is said that reading can seriously damage your ignorance. One supposes that this depends on your choice of reading material. I blame or thank authors long dead for shaping my life.

The novels of Robert Louis Stevenson and R. M Ballantyne, who penned Treasure Island and Coral Island, whet my appetite for a sailor’s life. By the time I reached 24-years of age there was little of the world I had not experienced.

During my teens I had a natural curiosity for debauchery. Admit it; you were on a learning curve too. The crime / erotica novelist Mickey Spillane provided most of my learning curves. These curves were roughly 38”, 22” and 36”. Such novels taught me far more than might a sex educationist and more pleasurably too.

When Missions to Seamen around the world delivered boxes of donated paperbacks for British seafarers the mixed bag included sinful novels. We weren’t complaining as this was what we sailors had been praying for.

My interest later turned to history, global politics, and biographies. The choice was so enormous that the History Channel couldn’t compete. Furthermore, it was better that I chose my subject rather than allow a biased TV editor to do my choosing for me.

We tend to think that interest in reading surrendered to social media, music, movies and television. Not so quick; Hollywood is in dread as box office receipts plummet and investors’ desert the movie industry.

Much the same can be said of television. Ratings are a fraction of what they were in their heyday. Never again will we see televised events that bring the nation to a stop. The Grand National, one of the most riveting sports events, was expected to attract 12 million viewers. Fail: Interest in the Aintree steeple chase dropped by 27%.

In 2016 the Queen’s Christmas Speech attracted an impressive 8 million viewers. However, this was a far cry from the 28 million who tuned in on Christmas Day 1980.

Facebook boasts 2 billion users. However, all FB users are readers. Authors use the medium to plug and sell their books. One way or another more books are bought today than at any time in history.

The most popular genre is romance / erotica, which pocketed $1.44 billion. Crime and mystery came in a poor second but for every crime novel two buyers opted for lurve. Would you believe it; women buy more erotica than do men. In fact, 60 per cent of book buyers are the ladies.

Religious / inspirational came in at 3rd place whilst science fiction and horror came in at 4th and 5th respectively. It seems writing can inflate your bank account too.