It happened organically. We went away for a week on vacation and didn’t watch any television. We didn’t eat at any restaurants where there was a television showing some program or another in the background.
We came home and continued with our daily lives, both busy with our work. In the evenings, as I edited articles for the paper, Jill continued to read. When I was done with my work, I picked up whatever book I was reading and joined her.
Time passed. We soon marveled at how quickly July came and went, and realized we hadn’t watched any television for the entire month. Our bill from Comcast drove the point home – some $90 for cable TV that we didn’t use.
Since this no-television journey began, Jill has read – are you sitting down? – nine books and has started her 10th. They range from smaller texts such as Francisco Jiménez’s “The Circuit,” a book that’s about the size of a larger paperback in hardcover format and comes in at 116 pages, to Tracy Chevalier’s “Girl with a Pearl Earring,” a novel inspired by Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer’s masterpiece of the same name, at 233 pages, to Mario Puzo’s “The Godfather,” which has some real heft.
Solano County Library is facilitating a Book-to-Action series this year based on “The Circuit,” a memoir of short stories chronicling the life of young Francisco and his family as they travel and work through California’s migrant camps. With scholarships, he attends Santa Clara University, where he is now a professor.
The Book-to-Action series continued Thursday with an event called Harvesting Solano’s Bounty at the Fairfield Civic Center Library. Jiménez will speak in December at the Fairfield Civic Center Library.
I kept to my preferred genres, science fiction and fantasy. I clocked in at a paltry three of those during the past seven weeks. None of them are what I would consider tomes – and believe me when I tell you a great many within these two genres qualify as tomes – but there were no pamphlets, either.
I started the next book in my on-deck circle as well.
I went to the Green Valley Crossroads shopping center in Fairfield after work one night this week to pick up some things at Safeway. A car that was parked nearby had a couple of stickers on the back bumper that called out the merits of education in general, and literacy in particular.
One read: When You Teach . . . You Touch A Life Forever. The other?
SURGOEN GENEREL’S WARNIG: Tolivison Promots Iliteracy.
I don’t know if the surgeon general ever issued a warning about television promoting illiteracy, but the sticker with its purposeful misspellings made me smile, particularly given how much recreational reading Jill and I have done in recent weeks.
It also made me think.
Does television promote illiteracy? I don’t believe so, although I can see how it could.
I watched a great deal of television as a child of the 1960s and ’70s. I am a member of the original MTV generation.
I was also encouraged by my parents from an early age to read for pleasure, and I did so. I was required to read age-appropriate books in elementary school, junior high and high school, and to report on what I read. As I progressed through school, age-appropriateness was not so much as factor as my interest in the topic, at least outside of school.
Both sets of reading – required and recreational – continued through college.
Television can be entertaining, thought-provoking, informative and maddening. It can take you places you’ve never been, depending how you make use of the programming that’s readily available.
Books do much the same. They always have, and always will.
The bumper sticker with all the misspellings, in my estimation, represents an admonition to balance the benefits of television against the imperative that we all make literacy a priority for each and every child.
Reading is, as I learned as a child by watching television, fundamental.
Now it’s time for a change, one of our mutual choosing. Our television drought ends Sunday with the start of the final half of the final season of “Breaking Bad” on AMC.
Call it a guilty pleasure, but we’re far from alone in wishing to learn the fate of Walter White and the other marvelous characters on the show.
I don’t think our books will mind.
Reach Managing Editor Glen Faison at 427-6925 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/GlenFaison.