The other day while I was at the feed store, I got to talking books with the cashier there. And some interesting things came out of the conversation.
First, she loved Blood Flow (now Project Hermes) and spent some time gushing about it, which made my day. I'd given her a copy back in May and she finally finished reading it. (Her busy schedule, not that it was a slow read.) I reminded her that it I had changed the name, and she was glad. Her take on it was that the previous title was confusing and didn't really fit the story and it clashed with the cover. Good to get feedback from a member of the reading populace.
Second, the younger gal cashier there stated that she hadn't read an entire book since 7th grade (she'll be a senior in high school this fall. Now, I don't know about you, but a young person should never say they hate reading in front of me. Or apparently in front of my book loving friend there. We spent a copious amount of time trying to convince the young lady of the joys of reading. By the end of our harangue, she seemed like she might actually be interested in reading a whole book. Perhaps one of mine. My friend said she'd give her Dying Embers when she finished reading it.
Third, the young gal stated that her teacher read the class a book last year that she really liked. Had READ a book to her class... to juniors in high school. The last time a teacher of mine read a book to the class, I was in third grade. This might be how a gal reaches 17 without having read an entire book on her own. We were reading like fools for our classes back in the '80s. We had to in order to pass our classes. Shakespeare and other classics were assigned reading. Hell, even books like Lord of the Flies (which I hate) are better than not reading at all.
Fourth, the other occupant of the store at the time was the young grandson of the guy who loads the feed into my car. I think he's eight. Anyway, he was trying to be part of the conversation, too, but he really didn't have the chops - you know, cuz he's a child. The only book he said he liked made me sad, because it was so obviously virtue signalling. A boy that age should be reading The Hardy Boys or Tom Swift or Encyclopedia Brown. You know, something adventurous and exciting. He should've been able to talk about that. Not a book about a poor tortured little girl. Is it any wonder kids don't like to read? Ugh.
Of course, this is just a little snapshot from a small town feed store in northern Arkansas. I would expect, though, it's a tiny window into the greater whole of middle America.