Sunday, March 29, 2009

Help Fight Bibliomnia

Since I have done my part to save the automobile industry by buying an imported car, I am now moving on to save the disintegrating print industry. As a former student of journalism, I have a strong allegiance to the journalists who have made it. After graduation, I gave the job hunt the 'ole college try to find a job in the media, but the editors didn't want any of this. My duties were needed elsewhere.

Nevertheless, I have put my grudges aside and have decided to do my part as a college-educated, literate man to (orchestral fanfare) SAVE THE PUBLISHING INDUSTRY.

Last week, the first phase began. A crisp issue of The New Yorker had arrived in the post addressed to me. Previously, I'd been doing the "poor man" subscription. I'd visit the library and check out the previous week's issue or the most current in the bin, or if that wasn't available I'd settle for Newsweek, Atlantic or Economist.

No more wrinkled copies. No more stale current events. It was awkward when I'd bring up topics at work that happened a week or months ago.

"So, you see Obama was elected?" I'd posit.
"Yeah. Two months ago," they'd snidely retort.

Never again.

To round out my Yuppie starter kit, an issue of Atlantic Monthly arrived on Friday. If only I'd bought a Prius, I could be a full member of the Elite literati. Alas, my sedan need not be plugged in or rely on battery juice. Instead I'm just a regular lackluster card-carrying member. The Elites get the fancy laminated card, so I hear. Someday...

These new subscriptions are presenting a problem already. I am subscribed to Wired and Interview, which come monthly. Due to my self-diagnosed disease of Bibliomnia, falling asleep shortly after reading, these magazines challenge me to overcome my illness. This condition haunted my college years, especially with dry history texts, but I'm intent on beating it. Be sure to walk for the cure (mild uppers) this summer. Fight Bibliomnia!

I don't think I've ever successfully completed an issue of The New Yorker, either for lack of interest in some stories or the utter sense of futility to finish a longer article with my "condition." Thank the publishing gods there aren't jumps.

This weekend I put the push on to get through it. "You can do it," I said to myself, another sign of the intelligentsia and schizophrenics--we aren't that different. Breezing through Woody Allen's and David Sedaris' articles I was in good shape. Over lunch I tackled the article on prison reform and thought to myself that I should write my congress person about it. No time though. I have to finish.

When I started to feel my eyelids getting heavy during the article about the Chairlady of China's paper plant, I got up and did some exercise. Strong mind, strong body. Sadly, there were still three more pages. I'll have to finish that one tomorrow. If only I could read while driving.

Atlantic is playing the part of forgotten middle child right now. I looked at the lineup of articles and shortly thereafter closed it. I have a month. It can happen. I can just replace a social life with reading. No big deal.

With the Tribune three days a week and Google Reader news feeds, I'm striving for being the best informed in the office. With "did you see that article in this week's New Yorker" serving as my entre to the Elite, I can assert my literacy among coworkers. I may not have time to work and unemployment would give me adequate time to read, but I will beat this disease and succeed at work.

Does anyone else get the impression that reading the paper or a magazine at your desk is worse than reading news online? I feel this stigma toward reading something other than my 1024 x 780 screen.

If you haven't been inspired already, go subscribe to a magazine or two. Do it for the kids.

Note: For those who wish to look literate without all the fuss, all it takes is an issue here or there on the desk. The key to look like you can read is to crease up the issue. Make some marks in the margin. It can be gibberish. No one will look that closely. Fold over a few pages and you're set.