Is There Life Beyond Books?
To read some of the Facebook posts and blogs and Tweets out there, you’d think that books were pretty much dead. Or if not dead, at least hanging on by the fingernails, one foot in the grave, heaving a last rattling gasp as they struggle not to give up the ghost. Lots of gloom and doom coming from all sides–writers, agents, editors, publishers. The book world ain’t what it used to be. Nobody’s buying. Nobody’s selling. Nobody cares. We’re all going to hell in a handbasket.
I’m not so sure.
I’ve spent a lot of time in airports lately, and I see people reading. They may hold a tablet or a smart phone or an e-reader instead of a “real” book, but the writing is the same, whether it’s in ink or pixels. What’s changing is not the hunger for good stories, but the menu and the preparation and the presentation.
The basics of great fiction are still…well, basic: compelling characters, interesting plots, gripping conflict, believable outcomes, artistic writing. Even, in some cases, the kind of spiritual and philosophical depth that challenges readers and changes their lives for the better.
Real fiction is about real life, whether it takes place in Downton Abbey or Down Under, populated by superheroes or anti-heroes. Utopia or dystopia, present, past, or future, the essence of story is the essence of humanity–finding out who we are, and how we grow and change and become.
Life beyond books? You bet. It’s not just fiction. It’s truth.