Warning, this post may contain humour.
There are many types of competition in the world. In fact thousands of competitions exist in the world. From sport to just about anything you care to name can be made into a challenge involving a ball, a bat, a horse, a swimming pool, eating, drinking, singing, running, dancing, driving, outer space, and let’s not forget the longest, the highest, the bravest, the most foolhardy things to outdo anyone who has tried before.
Of course, more and more now, competing involves a chat show panel or video camera following near-naked people running around the jungle working up a sweat for the ratings and a big pay cheque. Celebrity shows, quiz shows, unreality television, cooking, antiques, and growing gardens. From local country fairs to big city boardrooms, they all love a good competition. Supermarkets and used car dealers love a bit of sales competition and are currently discussing book sponsorship—I wish!
Schools thrive on competition; I think many children are born competitive, it starts with their siblings and works toward world domination. Queenslanders have several forms of competition (gambling casinos, Golden Casket Lottery, Scratch-its, leagues clubs) and one unique game requiring ugly cane toads which jump around when a bucket is lifted off them. (See photo) The first toad to leave the circle or careen through the crowd is the winner. Ugh! Cane toads are an imported noxious pest, destroying habitat and native wildlife. I would like to see a competition to have them eradicated from Australia.
Hey, jumping into a subject which would be impossible to turn into a spectator sport—BOOK READING!
Hang on, isn’t that what Goodreads reviewers do? Yeah, but not with a live studio audience. Maybe this is feasible. “Now,” whispers the show host, “here we have Angela Augustus reading a chapter from a special edition of The Animals in That Country by Laura Jean McKay.” Not classical literature so reader-viewers (or RVs) won’t lose points. “Hands on buzzers”.
Announcer One: “Watch Angela turn the last page, slowly turning the page, right she’s done it! The audience goes wild and everyone at home clambers online to secure a copy of The Animals in That Country an immersive adult experience with subtle undertones and high drama.”
Announcer Two: “Next up, viewers, we have Angus Augustus, Angela’s twin brother. He is quick, too quick and the audience miss his speed reading, lips barely moving. They admire his patent page-flick technique and the flourish when he shoots the book into its alphabetical place on the bookshelf.”
Book reader Angus is studied by thousands of wannabe speed readers around the country. But what about comprehension? Sports players have to speak into the microphone to explain How they did it/Why they did it/What it felt like when they did it. So put Angus on the pro circuit, tentatively dubbed Real Reading Australia 2030, thanking his mother and first grade teacher. He waves battered copies of Blinky Bill, Possum Magic or even the contentious Wombat Stew, then moves onto Bluey, Animalia and Ranger’s Apprentice enthralling thousands of children across Australia—again, I wish.
The ground swell back to paper books would archive digital copies, screens would go unlit, there would be reading time in every home after dinner. Renegades would read Jasper Fforde far into the night despite work next day. It would not be unusual to see readers sitting for hours engrossed in a p-book instead of an e-book without a café latte or muffin in sight.
A book engrosses a person, it takes all your attention no flashy adverts therefore it is advisable to slowly build up to bigger, thicker, weighty classics. It can be done! Librarians offer recommendations for a good Book Gym where staff talk you through a workout to suit your particular genre. Believe me, people are keen and waiting to read. The first-release promo videos astonished me with reader focus and intensity. I love reading Australian crime novels but cannot discussed top Aussie authors due to Brook Paige TV Clause—another wish.
I myself have entered the genuine Irish William Trevor Challenge reading “Love and Summer” please check out my book review here:
My advice is to create a comfortable environment and read up on your chosen author’s booklist before enrolling in the proposed *Real Reading Australia 2030. The genres for this thrilling competition can go either way—traditional or modern—but paper format rules. Polish your *specs dear reader!
♥ Gretchen Bernet-Ward
© Gretchen Bernet-Ward 2023
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