why book tv is the shiz

Don't ask me how, but it's happened: I've increasingly found myself doing things for fun that I would've classified as boring just a a few months ago.

I'm enjoying myself whilst:

1. I get my hands on some nonfiction books. Not memoirs, but these sort of factual, research beasts of books. This is monumental, since I've stayed as far away from nonfiction as possible for a long time.

2. I've found out that mushrooms taste sort of okay now. I used to hate them. (Just throwing that out there.)

3. Instead of frying my brain with the latest episodes of The Real Housewives of New Jersey, I've been flopping in front of news shows of the dry variety. And also, um, a certain TV channel called Book TV.

Now, Book TV basically consists of mostly old and incredibly smart people getting up in front of a microphone and talking about very complicated things for a very long time. There are usually shots of the audience that come on screen every once in a while to interrupt the monotony of filming nothing but an old guy's speech for an hour. The audience is usually slumped in their seats, about ready to fall asleep.

So what's so great about this seemingly boring network?

At first, I thought nothing. I was disappointed that whenever I flipped Book TV on, it didn't cover the books I wanted covered. Children's books. YA books. I've heard maybe one mention of YA the whole time I've been watching--a publisher rep saying that sales were doing great in the YA section.

After a hammering on my remote to look ahead at the show schedule, I figured out that Book TV basically covers nonfiction books.

The things is, I'd at first hoped that Book TV would be the TV counterpart of book blogs. But it's not. It couldn't be more different. But somehow, I still want to watch Book TV.

Because those people who are rambling on my TV screen? Who are so passionate about a topic that they're experts? Who are talking about mind-blowing theories they've come up with? They're not just people--they're authors. And I find that fascinating. I find it wonderful that there's actually room on TV to host programs on authors and their upcoming books. And Book TV features book signings and lectures and in depth interviews. A few days ago, my eyes were glued to the screen as Alan Brinkley talked about the life of Henry Luce (the publisher of TIME) for an hour. And I thought it was a pretty darn amazing program.

I think maybe this ties into getting--for the first time in my life--to go to a a few author readings this summer. What those authors said--when I sat down in front of them--was pretty amazing too. I meant to ask them questions; I swore I would--but I never managed to work up the courage (next time, I promise). But people around me did. I especially loved it when an author said flat-out: "that topic you feel like you shouldn't write about ? That's exactly what you should be writing" to a member of the audience.

That's pretty great advice, in my opinion.

I think seeing an author talk in front of you is invaluable. Especially when they're talking about their book or their writing or their reading or anything. Their words are gold. Sometimes, you even come across authors that speak like their writing--the same amount of eloquence and thought behind words that are conjured up right in front of you. It's sort of like magic.

So that's why Book TV--for all it's shortcomings--is really the shiz on tv nowadays.

If you're a history nerd or you like nonfiction or you just like listening to people who are smart, I'd recommend that if you have C-SPAN2, flip to it on the weekends (it transforms to Book TV by some unfathomable process). It might seem a little dull at first, but it's amazing once you settle down and realize that it's really very cool.

Or, better yet, attend some book readings with Q&A's if you haven't already. I live in an area where it makes it hard, but it's definitely worth it. By now, I think I've become addicted to listening to authors talk. Luckily, there are worse things to be addicted to. :)