Sunday, August 14, 2011

A Nine-Step Program for Saving the Book by Michael Wiley

Michael Wiley is the author of The Last Striptease, a Shamus Award finalist and winner of the PWA/St Martin's Press Best First PI Novel Competition, and the critically acclaimed mystery The Bad Kitty Lounge. Michael’s third mystery, A Bad Night’s Sleep, released on June 21. In a starred review, Publishers Weekly says, “The relentless pacing [in A Bad Night’s Sleep] makes the pages fly by, and the hard-edged prose is bracing.”

Michael teaches literature at the University of North Florida, where he also has published two nonfiction titles, Romantic Geography and Romantic Migrations, along with frequent articles and book reviews. In the past, Michael supervised emotionally disturbed, at-risk teenagers, taught remedial English at an urban-core business college, and worked for a day and a half as a migrant fruit picker.
Michael lives with his wife, children, and obstreperous dog in Jacksonville, Florida.

“A Nine-Step Program for Saving the Book”
 by Michael Wiley

This post says nothing we don’t already know.

Is the book dying? Well, no, not really. Some readerships (e.g. young adult) have been growing fast. Others have been stagnant. Still others have declined. This is the way it always has been.

But books, especially non-electronic books, have taken a lot of body blows lately. Do they need saving? Maybe. Probably. Sure, why not? What can we do to ensure that the books we love stay in the ring for the rest of the fight? In short: buy them; read them; and encourage others to buy and read them. That’s it. Nothing we didn’t already know.

To state more of the obvious: 

  1. Give books as gifts to others. They work especially well for birthdays, religious holidays, Fathers and Mothers Days, Valentines Day, bridal showers, Labor Day, the Fourth of July, Ground Hog Day, baby showers, marriage engagements –

“Sorry, honey, they were out of diamonds, but here’s a nice Michael Wiley mystery”

– Boxing Day, Guy Fawkes Night, Thanksgiving, Halloween, April Fool’s Day, and New Year’s Day, to name just a few book-ready occasions.

  1. Use your library. Check out books. Meet your friends there. Schedule meetings there. Have public sex there. Enjoy the quiet. Check out more books.

  1. Support your library. If funding for your library is threatened (and it almost certainly is), write to the people who hold the purse strings and remind them how important our libraries are. Throw around some big words that you’ve learned by reading books. (Unconscionable is one of my favorites.)

  1. If a book interests you but you don’t have the money (or the desire) to purchase a copy and your library doesn’t have one in its collection, go to your library website and ask the library to make a purchase. If you’ve already read a writer whose book or books you’ve enjoyed, ask your library to buy their own copies for their collection so that others can enjoy them too.

  1. Give yourself the gift of a cloth-bound or paperback book even if you already have it electronic form. Put it on a shelf next to the Waterford vase.

  1. Talk about books the way others talk about sports, politics, fashion, or the weather.

“Looks like rain today.”
“Yep. A good day to stay inside and read a book.”
“I like your shoes.”
“Thanks. I put them on whenever I go out to buy a book.”
“Did you hear about Congressman X?”
“Sure did. I wish he would close his zipper and open a book.”
“You see the game last night?”
“No, I was reading a book.”
“Run for your life! – It’s a tornado.”
“As soon as I finish this chapter.”

  1. Post your appreciation for good books on FaceBook, and re-post information about author blogs there when you think others might take interest. Post your appreciation for good books elsewhere too: on that new Google thing, in the comments section of the blogs you read, in church bulletins, in email messages, etc. Sneak your book opinions into meeting minutes. Don’t be afraid to wear a signboard in public.

  1. Write short reviews of books you’ve enjoyed, and post them on the websites of online book vendors and online book review websites.

  1. In other words: buy, read, and encourage others to buy and read. Nothing we didn’t already know.

Happy reading!


Kaye Wilkinson Barley - Meanderings and Muses said...

Michael - Welcome! Love your Nine-Step Program and you can count on me to be a pretty consistently conscientious member.

Geraldine Evans said...


Thanks for the tips - some pretty handy ones there. I laughed at the one where you introduce reading a book into every conversation. Must try it!

Michael Wiley said...

Thanks, Kaye! It's wonderful to be here. I know I'm preaching from the choir and to the choir. But I like it in the choir.

Michael Wiley said...

Thanks, Geraldine. I'm happy to say that a lot of my own conversations sound like this.

Candace Moody said...

From Nesting Consultant Candace Moody: Mike - I can't believe you missed the opportunity to promote books as decor. Books are now the hottest idea in decoration. You can buy them by the yard: and find useful tips for using them in lieu of furniture:

Jill said...

I will try the nine steps...Although...I am a little confused with number 2...How can folks enjoy the quiet, while also enjoying public sex? He he he..Sorry Kaye, I had to ask.

Michael Wiley said...

Ah, yes, decor. I've visited houses where the owners have lined the shelves with extraordinary (and expensive) antiquarian books that their interior designers have picked for their color, not for the words inside them. There's a place for this, I know (e.g. if anyone wants to line an entire wall with copies of A Bad Night's Sleep, I'll be more than happy), but I still have a hard time with it. Still, you;re right Candace: we'll call this the tenth step.

Michael Wiley said...

Why do you think libraries have those little meeting and study rooms, Jill? No, no, no, your point is a good one. Of course, I personally have a hard time reading a good book without crying out with ecstasy, so maybe it all turns out the same.

Sheila Beaumont said...

All great ideas! Fun to read too! I especially loved No. 6.

Michael Wiley said...

Thanks, Sheila -- and thanks again for having me here, Kaye!