Wednesday, March 12, 2014

The State of Reading

Parade magazine recently ran a list of what suggests are the top downloaded books in each of the 50 states. I'm not sure about their figures, to be honest, because several of the books for different states seem kind of counter-intuitive.

Scribd doesn't sell the books like a Nook or Kindle; subscribers pay a monthly fee and can access the books and other documents the site has in its library. The site has faced many complaints that it features unauthorized uploads of copyright work, but it usually responds by taking down the problem title.

Anyway, here were a couple of the "Huh?" books for me. I find it kind of hard to believe that people in Alaska want to read about ice cream, so I'm not sure their most popular book is really Ben & Jerry's Homemade Ice Cream and Dessert Book. On the other hand, Alaska has plenty of ice, so maybe people get it for the recipes. My own state is apparently a big Lisa Scottoline fanbase, with lots of us reading her debut novel, Everywhere That Mary Went.

An embarrassingly large number of Tennessee "readers" have downloaded Tucker Max's I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell. To be specific, the actual number of Tucker Max readers which should prompt embarrassment is any number greater than one. Except in California, where Mr. Max currently resides and which can be excused on the basis that he more or less has to be counted as a "reader" of his own work. New York might be likewise embarrassed at the tendency of its citizens to download the book by "comedienne" Sarah Silverman, but one wonders if someone who reads her book without a pistol pressed into his or her temple by a large person with a broken nose would be capable of embarrassment.

Very few of the books are older or anything like classic literature; Texans are big fans of Agatha Christie's Murder on the Orient Express but much of the rest of the nation is into airport novels, teen lit and tripe like the aforementioned ordure of Mr. Max and Ms. Silverman. Rhode Island probably comes off looking the best, as its readers prefer the great Elmore Leonard's tie-in to the TV series Justified (itself based on one of his short stories), Raylan: A Novel.

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