So we all know I love books. I'm a librarian and an avid reader. I grew up going to the library and my house has always been filled with books. During most of my conversations there will be some talking about books and reading. I love discussing what it is I love about a book or what makes me really dislike it. I love sharing my thoughts and hearing what others have to say. I want to know why someone loves a book, what it is about that book that makes it their favorite book they've read, and why it meant so much to them.
And when I see support for books and reading from celebrities, I get excited, really I do. I mean, I was the first person to purchase the Nathan Fillion READ poster! And I proudly display the new Harry Potter posters in my office. But there's also something about celebrities hocking books that really bugs me. It's not enough for me to see some popular person holding a book on an ALA READ poster-I want to know why they picked it. I even thought that when I was a student surrounded by READ posters in my library, so that's not just my librarian opinion. It's not enough for me to see the title of the book you picked, I want to know why. What it is about that book that made you want to hold it in a poster for everyone to see?
The same thing goes for Scholastic's new social networking site for Bookprints, You Are What You Read. The idea behind the site is very cool. The site lets users pick five books that have made an impact on their lives and they call it a "bookprint." You can share your bookprint with others, and see what other books have influenced people. There's even a place for you to write why you are choosing that specific book-what did that book mean to you? I really love this idea and I think it's a great way to promote how books can touch our lives.
And yes, there's even a very large section of celebrities who have supposedly filled out their own bookprints. We can see the five books each celebrity picks, but we have no idea why they picked it or what it means to them. Sure, we can figure some of them out. I mean, Daniel Radcliffe's choice of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone and Kevin Durant's choice of basketball books make sense to me. But why is it so hard for celebrities to write one short sentence about "I liked this book because..." OK, I know they're busy, but I don't think of that as an excuse. Guess what? I'm busy too! I may not be a celebrity and have millions of dollars to pay people to fill things out for me, but I can take the time to write a short sentence about how a book influenced me. And if they have time to go to work, socialize, shop, appear in the tabloids, and post stupid tweets on Twitter, they can find a few minutes to promote reading. If they showed up for a READ poster photo shoot, they can mention why they chose the book they're holding. And can't that at least get put on the ALA website if not the poster itself?
Take a look at the celebrity bookprints listed on the You Are What You Read site and you'll start to see a recurring theme-The Catcher in the Rye, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Old Man and the Sea-pretty soon it all starts to look like a required reading list for high school students. Has no one ever read a book past high school? And honestly, I'm a bit rebellious by nature. If I looked at the site as a student and only saw high school required reading, I wouldn't be inspired to read those books, I would roll my eyes and think "yeah, right, another adult telling me I should read this stupid thing." All it makes me think is how these people can't think for themselves and they have to pick books that make them look smart in the eyes of the public. (It gets worse if one of the books they choose is one they wrote! And don't even get me started on tie-in publicity READ posters!)
In all reality, it's most likely not even the celebrity picking the books-it's a publicist or agent or assistant. But if you really want to show your support for reading and literacy, than at least take five minutes to think about what books meant to you and let us know. If that classic really did inspire you than tell me why. That's much more inspiring than just seeing your face associated with some classic I was forced to read and hate in school.
And honestly, if you can't even think of one book that was influencial and inspired you and can't explain why, than really I don't you promoting my profession. Why would I want some celebrity who hasn't read a book since high school telling kids to read when they can't even think of the last book they read themselves?
So what kind of celebrity book promotion do I like to see? Remember when Kristen Bell professed her love on Twitter for Mockingjay and posted a photo of the book? And then she talked about the books in a magazine interview and explained why she liked them. Then there was the big string of celebs tweeting about The Hunger Games. Why am I more inclined to believe those tweets than something else? Because the tweets conveyed excitement about the books and actually discussed plot points and characters-meaning I knew they had read the book.
All I really want is to know why someone enjoyed a book. Why are they suggesting it to others? Why do they think I should read it? It's just not enough to hold a book or put it up on a profile page-explain why I should pick it up and maybe I will.
Am I being too critical? Anyone else feel this way?