One of the occasional perks of a newsroom are the goodies that arrive in the mail. Major corporations hope to generate media coverage by sending out promotional packets for everything from beef jerky and steak sauce to music CDs and T-shirts.
Food in a newsroom lasts about as long as it takes a Miley Cyrus routine to offend half the nation.
But by far the most mailed items we get are books. Journalists are readers, but the books are one thing that aren’t snapped up. That’s because most all of them range from very bad to intensely boring. We have large file drawers full of orphaned books that even the worst-stocked library would not appreciate as a donation.
Many of the books are from self-published authors hoping to spur their writing careers through a book review. A few are good, but they are the exception.
They say you can’t judge a book by its cover, but sometimes you can. The titles of many of the books scream boredom. “Mergers of Membership Associations and Nonprofits” is one of the slim volumes that arrived. I’ve no idea what it’s about and wasn’t tempted to crack the cover to find out.
A lot of writers seeking some, any, ink from the media tend to be on the conspiracy/fringe side with titles such as, “Betrayal of Americanism” and “Counterfeit Gods.”
A majority of the books that come in, though, are in the self-help, advice and inspiration category:
“Parent Babble, how parents can recover from 50 years of bad expert advice.”
“The Everyday Parenting Toolkit.”
“The iConnected Parent.”
“Quicksilver — a revolutionary way to lead the many and the few.”
My favorite: “Shut up and Stay Married” with a cover photo of a couple with duct tape over their mouths. If you’re married, you don’t need to read the book to know the concept is sound.
The latest book to arrive is called “Break Out — Five Keys to go Beyond your Barriers and Live an Extraordinary Life.” It’s written by Joel Osteen, a smiling, earnest-looking young man.
The book cover says, “You were not created to just get by with an average, unrewarding, or unfulfilling life.”
Self-improvement books have always been among the most popular, offering soup for the soul and habits for highly successful people.
But what if you don’t want to live an extraordinary life? What if average is OK?
For a large swath of people, I suspect, practicing the seven steps to success, setting goals and organizing free time just seems like more work than it’s worth. (By the way, if you organize your free time, it by definition isn’t free time anymore.)
Often time, people are fairly happy in life if their family is OK, they have enough to get by, and they can have a few beers and grill some burgers on the weekend.
Maybe there’s a book publishing niche there: “7 Steps of Happy Average People” or “You Don’t Need to Win Friends or Influence People — You Will Probably Grow to Dislike them Anyway.”
Tim Krohn can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or 344-6383.