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Showing content with the highest reputation on 05/13/19 in Posts

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    Curious about the fact that Bernie Sanders became a millionaire off a bestseller, I stumbled upon a piece from a quite while back in the New York Times about unread bestsellers. Among other things, it contained a couple of amusing bits, such as the following: Photo by Markos Mant on Unsplash, license.[Michael] Kinsley and a colleague put coupons redeemable for five dollars each in the back of 70 copies of selected books in Washington bookstores. Two of the books were Deadly Gambits: The Reagan Administration and the Stalemate in Nuclear Arms Control by Strobe Talbott and The Good News Is the Bad News Is Wrong by Ben J. Wattenberg. Though neither was a national best seller, they were chosen, Mr. Kinsley said, as the kinds of books Washingtonians were most likely to claim to have read. No one ever redeemed a coupon. The Kinsley report may be as scientific a study as there is. The unread best seller seems to be a subject that makes many people, and not just book buyers, uncomfortable. One New York retailer at first said, "We do regularly laugh about this," and quickly named the latest Tom Wolfe novel, A Man in Full ("Everybody thought they had to have it") and Harold Bloom's Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human ("Everybody would like to think they're going to read that much about Shakespeare, but then they don't") as two books she thought were more bought than read. But ultimately she decided not to be quoted by name. Still, she did recount the story of a friend's husband who had "actually read the Hawking and then went around for a month trying to get a conversation going about it -- but no one else had read it." [format edits]This suggests at once that being "the guy who actually reads the books" can -- much more easily than one might anticipate -- put one in prime position to call out virtue signalers at parties or significantly aid in the spread of the good ideas contained in some of these books. (People who bash the likes of Atlas Shrugged after practically bragging that they "couldn't" read Galt's speech come to mind.) Who knows: It could even make a profound difference for the better in one's life -- as comedienne Julia Sweeney notes of reading the Bible -- history's Number One Unread Bestseller -- in Letting Go of God. (I highly recommend this engaging and soulful account of her intellectual journey.) It also suggests a housecleaning tip for anyone who might have at any point proven bad at estimating his reading time or succumbed to the idea of having an "impressive bookshelf." Periodically get rid of anything you haven't actually read and know (by now) you don't intend to read. -- CAV Link to Original
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