I was on the subway the other day and saw this advertisement for some new book. The reviews that were chosen to put on this advertisement claim that "authors just don't get any better" and that the writer is "one of the greatest storytellers of ours or any time [emphasis mine]".
Really? Are they trying to tell me that The Lion is such a work of literary art that Mr. DeMille is surpassing Leo Tolstoy, Mark Twain, C.S. Lewis, even Shakespeare for crying out loud. Am I supposed to believe that this book will become a timeless classic for many generations to enjoy?
It saddens me how literature in general becomes the McDonald's of food. Now indeed there's time and place for McDonald's (when you're in the rush and need a quick meal) but a BigMac will never compare to a proper sit-down several course dinner at the View. There is time and place for novels that can be enjoyed on the beach or on a plane. But can they be compared to the timeless classics that force us to look deep within ourselves and search for answers, that move us to think and become better people, that encourage us to open up a dictionary once in a while and broaden our vocabulary?
If you are a parent - I beg you to instill in your children love for good books. When they grow up they will read what they see you read. Fill their bookshelves with quality time-proven authors, get them to discuss the content with you, ask them to place themselves in a hero's shoes. Check out this list and see if you read any of those yourself (a few more lists can be found here and here). It takes a while to develop appreciation for classic writers if you never had to force yourself to go beyond the Cliff's Notes versions of their books but I promise you that it'll be worthwhile.