Ron Charles: Book Critics and Widespread Reading Are Endangered Species

Wednesday, July 1, 2009


Movie critics are feeling irrelevant? Give me a break! At least people still go to movies. You don't know irrelevance till you see the pity that washes over a man's face when you tell him you're a book critic. "What's a book critic?" some youngster asks before being shushed by an embarrassed parent.

Every week I search the piles for the next masterpiece, and every week the bestseller list trumpets another thriller about a sicko who skins women alive with a chicken bone or a now-grown child starlet who learned everything she needs to know from her cat. With another Fourth of July picnic coming up, I have to steel myself for the inevitable questions:

"Can you point me to a novel as good as 'The Da Vinci Code'?"

"Which did you like better: 'Twilight' or 'Harry Potter'?"

When I want to feel more relevant, I lie and say I'm a haberdasher.

-- Ron Charles

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