Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Pageturners, politics, and pretentious pinhead publishing wonks

Over at the Corner at NRO, Jonah Goldberg brings up an interesting question as a challenge to a statement made by Pat Schroeder: who reads more -- liberals or conservatives? He answers it, at the end of his post... and I won't spoil the surprise. Just go and read.

And then, Consider This, SeƱora: I know of a conservative man who reads an average of eight books per month, of all varieties, from advanced mathematics to history to trashy fiction (which he usually tosses down in disgust somewhere about midpoint, when he realizes that David Brin really was at his best in The Practice Effect, and has gone downhill from there, or that the characters in that "great beach read" he was handed by a neighbor will never develop a third dimension, no matter that the book has nearly two thousand pages for the opportunity to arise. Under such circumstances, he's learned to stick mostly to non-fiction.

His wife would probably reach the mean for conservatives, but then, she spends more time in the process of creating works of art than she does reading. They are both very well-traveled, yet of middle income.

Their daughter, who usually stands in the "moderate-to-somewhat-conservative" section of the political pool, is a book glutton. She just finished reading Stephen Hunter's implausible yet thrilling Pale Horse Coming and Audie Murphy's To Hell and Back (simultaneously, for the heck of it, and because she'd heard that Audie makes an important appearance in the silly novel), meanwhile nibbling on a few pages of the collected works of Lord Byron and refreshing her Latin with an old textbook's series of exercises and a battered Langensheidt's (not that it is really helping. She just wanted to see if she still has the right to wear the t-shirt on which is printed an image of a toga-wearing John-Travolta-knock-off and the words, "LATINAM DISCO"). That's just since last Friday night. (It helps that she doesn't sleep much in the summer.)

And, now, on to some Janet Evanovich, Elizabeth Peters, and a little Hopalong Cassidy online.

The family, as a whole, would probably blow the curve -- but then, half the kids are liberal, so the curve is pretty much irrelevant. Their kids read piles of books, too. This is a family which will continue to keep print media in business for many generations, I think.

There is a chance that Schroeder has made the number one classic mistake (other than never get involved in a land war in Asia) of assuming that, because conservatives don't always buy as many books as liberals, they don't read as much -- forgetting that conservatives don't waste their own cash when there's a perfectly good library in the neighborhood....

To heck with the arrogance of a political hack trying to make her way in the print world. Tell her to shut up and publish. We'll take care of the rest of the business.

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