Saturday Selects: Your Voice

Saturday Selects is a series of posts I write on the first Saturday (usually) of each month to discuss a topic outside the general bookish theme of the blog. Today is a topic I touched on fairly recently. The 2016 presidential campaign.

Donald Trump will be the GOP nominee come November. Many who thought his candidacy was nothing more than a joke and public spectacle are now grappling with whether to support him or not.

But just because he’s emerged from a crowded field of contenders for the highest office in the world doesn’t mean anything is set in stone just yet. He’s been praised for having brought in new voters to the GOP while also being ridiculed by members of his own party.

But my message to you is quite simple. Your voice can still be heard. You have Trump, who needs no introduction whatsoever. And you’ll have Hillary. Many argue this election will truly be about the lesser of two evils, but I tend to disagree. Only one of the candidates is highly unqualified to hold the most important office in the world. And the other candidate has decades of public service.

My question today isn’t about your voting preference. I’m curious to learn your thoughts on how we reached this point.

This Week in Books #5: George R. R. Martin is (NOT) Dead

Welcome back to This Week in Books, where I dish on the latest and greatest stories in publishing each week. Today is no different. George R. R. Martin reportedly died and Amazon announces the location of their second physical bookstore. Now watch, watch, watch! And let me know what you think, please.

Saturday Selects #24: Go vote

Saturday Selects is a series of posts I write on the first Saturday of each month to discuss various topics outside the general bookish theme of the blog. Today’s topic is voting.

Congressional favorability ratings are still hovering around all-time lows. People are fed up with politicians. Many don’t think of their vote for president as being consequential. But everyone is only a part of one Congressional district for the House of Representatives. So instead of thinking about that one person who represents your area in the United States House of Representatives, why not think of all the local races and candidates on the ballot in November? Local judges. Sheriff. State senator and representative. School board. Mayor. State constitutional amendments. Governor.

You see, there is so much more on the ballot than just the presidential and congressional candidates. Every time I’ve voted there has been more than a dozen local items on the ballot. Voting for or against these items and candidates is probably even more important than voting in the national races. You could be voting on the legalization of marijuana or a major construction package. You could be voting on tax hikes or school funding. These would all be very important questions that are all local propositions. And items that could have a real impact on your life. Which is why I believe it to be so important to vote.

Maybe you don’t care about who occupies the Oval Office. Maybe you’ve never thought of what your Congressman is doing for you in Washington DC. And maybe you’ve been put off the entire political process. But voting is a whole lot more than political candidates hundreds or thousands of miles away. Election day isn’t for many months, but state primaries and caucases are well underway. And I’d encourage every registered voter to research their local candidates and get out to vote. Because you might not be interested in voting for Trump, Hillary, Bernie, or one of the remaining presidential candidates; but local races are also important.

How often do you vote?

This Week in Books #2: Apple, Khloe Kardashian, and more

Welcome to the second post in my new “This Week in Books” series here on the blog and YouTube channel. Today I’m discussing three interesting topics. Khloe Kardashian. Apple. And a new development about A Birthday Cake for George Washington. I know it’s a pretty random assortment of topics, but that’s what makes it fun! At least I’m doing something different, right? I mean, I could just grab the latest YA bestseller and review it like everyone else seems to do. But that’d be boring and not very original.

Anyway, now watch!

PS: I forgot to wear my hat this time. I’m sorry you have to see my hair. I’m embarrassed.

Writing Pet Peeves #13: All the emojis

I’ll be the first person to admit that I use emojis quite a bit. My favorites are probably right in line with most people. I like these three the most 😂😘😕. But I’ve used just about every emoji in my keyboard. But I really only use them when texting my girlfriend. Sometimes in tweets. Sometimes in comments on here. That’s about it. So only a portion of my textual messaging really uses emojis.

But have you ever been or know someone who uses them WAY too much? I remember a friend of mine temporarily getting her sister’s phone and there were more emojis in her conversations than words. Ha! Not only is that ridiculous, but it’s also stupid. And this probably isn’t even a rare occurrence.

I imagine younger teens up to high school kids doing this. My reaction is to pump my fist in the air and proclaim, “THIS MUST STOP!”. Okay. Now people are looking at me like I’m doing something strange. *runs*

Do you know anyone who uses emojis way too often? Do you ever shake them and tell them words need some love too?

This Week in Books #1: “Hot Dudes Reading” Gets a Book Deal

Welcome to my first post in my new series “This Week in Books” on Johnny Reads. If you didn’t watch my video from Sunday, then you likely have no idea what I’m talking about. Basically every Friday I’m going to discuss one to three different stories I’ve been reading about in the world of books. It’s no different from what you’ve grown accustomed to reading on here, but now it’ll be a kind of weekly mashup of a few different stories. Some you’ll likely be aware of, and others might be completely new to you.

I’ve wanted to make a video on this topic since the second I read about it. Hot Dudes Reading is a popular Instagram account that shows photos of men reading in public. But it’s OH SO MUCH MORE THAN THAT, and I have a lot to say about it. A LOT.

You might find yourself nodding your head in agreement when you hear what I have to say or you might find yourself shaking your head, but I’d still encourage you to listen to what I have to say  (especially if you’re unfamiliar with the account) because I’m quite curious to know where you stand on this, no matter if we agree or not.

So, here is my first video in my new series “This Week in Books”.

Saturday Selects #24: Valentine’s Day

Saturday Selects is a series of posts I write on the first Saturday of each month to discuss a topic outside the general bookish theme of the blog. Today the topic is Valentine’s Day.

What’s the day mean to you? Maybe it’s been full of memories? Or perhaps you can’t wait for the calendar to say it’s the 15th of the month? To me, the day means next to nothing. I worked in a grocery store in an upper middle class suburb for a long time. And every year around this time the store would be full of men buying their girlfriends or wives or mothers roses, chocolate, chocolate covered strawberries, and cards. And I just don’t see the reasoning behind it.

I mean, is there anything less romantic than flowers that are going to die in a week? How does buying chocolate or flowers prove you care about or love someone? And why are we so enamored with going out of our way to show it on one day of the year? It’s ridiculous.

I think the whole thing is a game. A game people in relationships play to set the stage for the coming months. They know how superficial the entire thing is, but they partake anyway.

Most of the holidays and non-holidays we celebrate make no sense to me, but Valentine’s Day is right at the top. Not really because I’m interested in telling people what they should or should not be celebrating, but because society as a whole has been trained to believe that Valentine’s Day is about showing how much you love someone. But it isn’t. That’s something that should happen every single day.

What’s your take on the day we celebrate every February 14?

Saturday Selects #23: The blogging community

Saturday Selects is a series of posts I write on the first Saturday of each month to discuss something outside the general bookish theme of the blog. Today’s topic is the blogging community.

I first thought of hosting my own reading challenge way back in January of LAST year. I saw how popular the PopSugar challenge had become and wanted to see what I could do with my own readers and followers. Maybe some would even want to participate, right? Well I completely forgot about the whole thing throughout most of 2015. I was more focused on building the blog up to its highest potential. I was quite a bit more successful in the first half of the year than in the second half. But eh, that’s how things go sometimes. But then just a few weeks ago I wrote down a list of 20 things and called it my 2016 challenge. But I didn’t tell a soul until I told my girlfriend about it less than a week ago. Then I wrote about it here. And THEN I told all of my coworkers about it. I mean, I do work in a bookstore.

And I’ve been overwhelmed with the response in just a few days. I honestly thought I could get anywhere from 5-50 people to participate. Sure I have over 3,000 followers, but a small number of them actually read my posts. Maybe it’s because I don’t follow their blogs or comment or I don’t even know. But it’s fine. This week I’ve seen a different side of the blogging community. I’ve had dozens of people tweet, post, or tell someone in some way about my 2016 challenge. Mostly bloggers. I’ve completely lost track of the number of people who’ve vowed to take part in my challenge. But I can tell you the number is in the hundreds.

Think about that. I’m just some guy who blogs about books. I don’t read as much as I should. I don’t write at all. But I’ve stayed true to my promise of posting everyday on here. Always something new. I’ll hit on topics multiple times, but I try my best to offer something new each and every day. But that’s everyone on here. Who isn’t trying to offer something new and different each time they post? But in the last week I’ve had people who have been reading my blog for many months do their part to get people to do my challenge, and I’ve had people I’ve never heard of do the same.

And you know what, I think that’s pretty awesome. So if you’re reading this and you’ve just recently started your blog or you’ve been blogging steadily for months now and haven’t seen much traffic, don’t worry. I’m certain there’s someone out there searching for the kind of posts YOU do. Just keep on posting. Because the blogging community will always find blogs with high quality content. And that’s all I’ve tried to produce in my nearly three years on WordPress.

All I can say is thank you. For reading. For reposting my challenge. For making blogging a nice part of my day-to-day routine. What’s your favorite aspect of the blogging community?

PS: You can find information about my 2016 reading challenge here.


On this day in 2015 I published 2014: What do I think of you?.

 

Writing Pet Peeves #12: Consistently Wrong

I’ve forgotten about this series for a few months, but now it’s making a comeback.

Today I’m discussing something I know just about everyone has encountered. People who are consistently wrong. Don’t forget we’re still talking writing here.

Have you ever found a grammar or spelling error in someone’s writing and then told them about it? Just so they can correct it, at least in the future. Then one of three things happens. They ignore you and the error is bound to happen again. They realize their mistake but make no effort to change anything. Or they’ll experience some sort of “Ohhhhh” moment and that particular error may not happen as often in the future.

In the past when I’ve pointed out a mistake in someone’s writing I’ve rarely experienced the third scenario. Mostly one of the first two. It just makes me scratch my head.

Which of the three examples do you see most often when you point out a mistake in someone’s writing? Or is there a fourth one I didn’t consider?

Saturday Selects #21: My problem with football

There isn’t enough being done to make the sport safer. I couldn’t be more blunt and straightforward.

Let me give you a little background here. It is all but certain that I know more about football and sports in general than you do. I love sports. If I could live a life entirely surrounded by sports I would. I do my best to live that life now.

The Houston Texans debuted in 2002. They’ve been my favorite sports team since that first game. But my favorite sport has always been baseball.

Back to the topic. Injuries happen in all sports. That’s the first thing people say when I bring up the safety of football. But baseball players suffer mostly from shoulder injuries. And of course knees are torn up and legs even broken. All very serious in nature, absolutely. But none life threatening. Basketball players often suffer injuries to their lower bodies and although quite serious, still not life threatening.

Then someone will bring up how hockey players have blades on their feet and a puck that often does some real damage, and hard collisions that are rarely matched in any other setting, besides football. But still, with the even more serious nature of the injuries sustained by hockey players I’ve never heard of a player dying because of what happened on the ice. Please do correct me if I’m wrong.

But then we get to football. We have these analysts who are often former players talking about how the game isn’t played the way it used to be. And how it’s becoming more soft. As a longtime fan of the sport, this is outrageous to me. We’ve had former NFL players commit suicide due to the head trauma they endured. We’ve had them kill other people.

There is no injury that hasn’t happened on the football field, except for a player actually dying right there. Broken necks. Torn ACLs. Broken arms. Broken legs. Collapsed lungs. Torn Achilles. Broken collarbones. Concussion after concussion after concussion. It’s all routine now. And everyone uses the excuse that the players are rich and know what they sign up for. But using someone’s salary as a means to justify very real health concerns is a damn joke.

Because I haven’t even gotten to the worst part of all of this. It isn’t from the NFL or NCAA levels of play. It’s from high school. Eight players have died this year as a result of football-related injuries. Eight. Eight high school kids. And that number is right in line with the average number of football-related deaths in each of the last few years.

How has it become acceptable for kids to die playing a game that is utterly meaningless? To me, if one player had died this year it would be too many. The number should be zero. But no one seems to care.

The thing about it is that I’ve played football. And I’m near certain that I suffered at least one concussion during my playing time. And guess what happened immediately afterward? I got up feeling very dizzy and my coaches and teammates were fired up because of my “big hit”. I could barely get back to the bench. And it’s on me for not saying anything. Absolutely.

But there are kids playing football at the high school level who shouldn’t be. They’re too small, not strong enough, or just lack the skill set needed. And there’s nothing wrong with that. But these kids are at great danger when they enter games. They might go in thinking they’ve got something to prove or that they aren’t good enough, and that’s how injuries happen.

I understand that the NFL doesn’t oversee every school district or youth football league. But they have a duty to every player playing football today to do whatever they can to keep them safe. Whether that be through seminars or coaching clinics or TV ads promoting safety on the field. In my opinion, enough is not currently being done and kids are dying every single year. It’s unacceptable. And I’m sick of it.

In years past I’d watch every Texans, Sunday night, and Monday Night Football game. But no longer will that be the case. I will continue to watch the Texans through the end of the season, but I will not watch any other games. If the NFL isn’t willing to address legitimate safety concerns, then I’m not willing to watch.

FYI: I also don’t watch UFC or boxing because I find it quite difficult to see how either can be legal in today’s modern society.