As Seen on TV

Don Draper

Does anyone read books anymore? Sure they do! But only on TV.

Orange is the New Black is the latest TV show to become an authority on books, at least among its fans, who are scouring every frame of every episode to catalog every book that appears on screen. This seems to happen with a lot of “smart” TV shows after they reach a critical mass of viewership. How else to explain the Mad Men book clubs that sprang up in places like The Daily Beast and the New York Public Library? And the Lost fans who swooned over “clues” in every book that Sawyer picked up? There’s even a guy who has vowed to read every book that Rory Gilmore ever held on Gilmore Girls.

The question is, are people actually reading the books they see on TV, or are they simply obsessing over the details of their favorite shows, like the woman who draws every sweater that Cliff Huxtable ever wore? Is the Gilmore Girls reader an amusing freak or an influential specialist?

As you may recall, I’m fascinated by the way books become floating signifiers. So it gives me great pleasure to announce that, after years of laborious research, Fiction Advocate has devised a theorem to explain (among other things) why some people fetishize books in the abstract instead of reading them.

The less you read, the more you’re willing to believe that books are mysterious and powerful objects.

You’re welcome, science.

Now let’s all watch closely as Don Draper flips through The Inferno.

– Brian Hurley

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