Writers such Jack Kerouac, Dylan Thomas, John Cheever, Ernest Hemingway and F Scott Fitzgerald all drunk alcohol or other intoxicants while writing their books. Most modern writers that I know always have a glass of wine when they are going to sit at their computers for hours. Its a given that authors tend to be under the influence more than other professionals, such as doctors and lawyers. What about readers?
Can readers digest a novel while under the influence? Does one substance over another make you get into the book more or does it hinder your overall experience?
In doing research for this article it is dramatically apparent that people who drink alcohol tend to read different books than people who for example, smoke pot. I found that people who smoke, tend to be male and gravitate towards authors such as Kurt Vonnegut, Philip K. Dick, Douglas Adams, Aldous Huxley, and Neil Gaiman.
Readers are very much like authors, in the respect that having a glass of wine or a small glass of scotch enhances the experience, but too much can detract from comprehension.
Is reading under the influence directly correlated towards the rise of adults buying YA fiction and romance? In 2013 715 million YA books were sold, primarily to adults. Industry statistics from the Business of Consumer Book Publishing 2013 show that the romance genre as a whole generated $1.438 billion in sales in 2012 and estimated at $1.350 billion for 2013.
You have to admit that reading Hunger Games or 50 Shades of Grey is much easier to digest with a glass of wine than Finnegans Wake or Gravity’s Rainbow. It might be possible that the reason why so many adults are buying easy reads, at the expensive of literary fiction, is because they tend to always be inebriated.
Michael Kozlowski is the Editor in Chief of Good e-Reader. He has been writing about audiobooks and e-readers for the past ten years. His articles have been picked up by major and local news sources and websites such as the CBC, CNET, Engadget, Huffington Post and the New York Times.