I’ve just been reading a book by Professor Lindsey Darlinger of the University of West Connecticut. It’s called Reading is the Least of It, and seeks to claim (over six hundred tedious pages) that reading is, well, the least of what we can do with books.
Here are some of the other things I could, and perhaps should, have done with Darlinger’s book over the last few days:
1. Built a house (yes, if Darlinger speaks the truth, several people have done just this. A man called Don Demarko, she notes, lives in a six-bedroom mansion in Dakota, built entirely of dictionaries).
2. Built a chair (for those who have less time on their hands, and fancy sitting on Shakespeare).
3. Built a raft (for those who are lost at sea, but remembered to bring a lot of holiday reading with them).
3. Killed someone, or something. A magpie, perhaps?
4. Played sport with it (now this I can believe, having been to a school that owned only one working football. Hardyball – i.e. playing football with a Thomas Hardy novel – was thought of by some boys to be a far superior game).
5. Carried it around like a dog, and hoped that people would think better of me as a person.
6. Taken it into a cafe, pretended to read it, and hoped that people would think better of me as a person.
7. Put it on my shelf, never opened it at all, and hoped that people would think better of me as a person.
8. Used it to prop open a door, or stabilise a table.
9. Put it in storage, and hoped that one day it would be rare, and thus worth something.
10. Given it to a friend, and pretended to have read it, and hoped that the friend would also pretend to read it, and think better of me as a person (and vice versa).
11. Used it to squash insects.
Further suggestions, as ever, are welcome.