Crack a few (book) spines

Published 10:05 am Thursday, August 17, 2017

Disney—or the “happiest corporation on Earth” as I like to call them—made a few headlines last week with their announcement that they’re pulling all their movies (including Pixar ones) from Netflix sometime in the not too distant future of 2018. Presumably, their TV content will go as well eventually, though it looks like Marvel-related properties will probably stay.

The reasoning behind this decision is for Disney to launch their own streaming service.

That’s one more to add to the multitude of streaming services you have to pay for to watch your favorite shows and movies. In addition to Netflix, you have other options like Hulu and Amazon, along with channel specific ones like HBO. CBS is using its upcoming new series, Star Trek Discovery, to promote its own new streaming service too.

The idea is that you can watch whatever you want, whenever you want, and you don’t have to worry with the hassle of cable or satellite.

Frankly, I don’t really care.

One of the downsides (or perks?) of living in the proverbial “middle of nowhere” is that I don’t have decent enough internet service to use any of these streaming sites. Why pay for something I can’t watch? And with all these different video streaming sites, it sounds like it’s just going to get more and more expensive. You’ll be paying for five or more things just to keep up with any movies or shows you want to check out. How is that any better than cable?

So how about a different alternative: read a book.

I know, I know. That’s a pretty obvious suggestion, and it’s not like books have become some rarity these days. But I feel like it just needs to be said anyway. We don’t have to be glued to a screen all the time.

While a story presented on pages of paper doesn’t pack the same visual punch of a movie screen, of course we all have the benefit of our imaginations to fill in the gaps. It’s not a bad alternative really because our imaginations can be much more amazing than movies anyway.

Recently, I’ve been interested in reading collections of short fiction. Perhaps in a world of short attention spans, smaller self-contained stories are more manageable than sprawling epic tales that go on for multiple volumes. (Not that there’s anything wrong with those series—I love the Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter, for example)

Short stories, like any other kind of fiction, can encompass any genre. For science fiction, I like reading Isaac Asimov. His stories, which often involve robots, examine a variety of ideas about humanity and how we should approach the future.

I’ve also slowly been working my way through a collection of “penny dreadfuls,” a term describing cheap 19th century literature focused on providing gruesome thrills, often using supernatural elements. The horror stories aren’t exactly mighty works of literature but the shocking twists and turns provide a lot of undeniable entertainment.

For literary fiction, there’s such a wide variety to choose from, but my favorite are the stories by Japanese author Haruki Murakami. His stories always leave me scratching my head in confusion afterwards. But isn’t it true that the best stories are always the ones that leave you thinking about them hours, days, months, years after you’ve read them?

The next time you’re sitting around the house trying to figure out what to watch next on Netflix, maybe try a book instead. And if you don’t have anything good to read, check out our local libraries (we have several!) or visit the Cultivator bookstore on Main Street in Murfreesboro. There’s plenty out there to explore.

So, what are you reading?


Holly Taylor is a staff writer for Roanoke-Chowan Publications. Contact her at or by phone at 252-332-7206.