10 Problems with Books That No One Is Talking About
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In the long years that I have spent staring at (and in some cases even reading) books, I have noticed a number of problems with the format that have yet to be solved. If the publishing industry can solve these issues, then they can finally make books appealing to a wider audience.
It may even be possible, in the distant future, to transform the humble “book” into something that people want to own.
1. Too Imaginative
For long years, books have been a vessel for the communication of new ideas and beliefs. In many cases, these ideas are so ridiculous that their authors could never bring themselves to pronounce them aloud for fear of embarrassment.
Unfortunately, books allow these ideas to be delivered silently and directly into the mind of the reader. This forces the reader to think scary new thoughts without giving them anyone to attack for them.
2. Full of Weird Glyphs
As an object, books seem perfectly wholesome, until you open them up and find that they’re full of eerie glyphs and sigils. More worrying still, those runic scrawls have the power to paralyse anyone foolish enough to glance into their pages. Who knows what ancient evils operate through their arcane geometries?
3. Take Too Long to Read
If you go to the movies, you can expect to burn your way through $20 in a couple of hours. This helps to ensure that the economy is kept moving. By contrast, if you spend $20 on the right books, you could spend weeks or even months regretting your purchases. If we all do this at the same time, the global economy stagnates. Industry collapses, and we are reduced to scrabbling in the dirt for food…
And even then I’ll still have to read The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman.
4. Too Many Pages
Pages are not only the delivery system for terrifying new ideas and symbols, they are also the most delicate part of the book. Moreover, these razor-sharp leaves are the most likely part of the book to injure you, slicing easily through your frail human flesh. Once the book is soaked in blood, those fragile pages are instantly destroyed, though the cover usually survives. Some of these books have as many as a thousand pages.
Of course, the publishing industry is in on this, as it forces you to replace your books more often. If they wanted to, they could easily improve the book experience by making the whole book out of cover...
5. Ruin Appreciation of Film
Reading too many books gives an uncomfortable how-the-sausage-is-made look into the movie industry. If you’d like to gaze into the future and see next summer’s blockbuster, read this summer’s bestseller and then bang your head against a wall until your memory of it is a confused jumble of disconnected vignettes.
It is considerably easier to save yourself the time (and the concussions) by just going to the movies and avoiding the books altogether.
6. Stubbornly Refuse to be Judged by Their Covers
As we have already established, the cover is the part of the book that is least likely to betray and injure you (the pages being the real villain). However, you should not make the mistake of believing you can trust the cover. Covers are fundamentally untrustworthy.
Consider, for example, the case of these Elena Ferrante books. Their covers beg you to snobbishly ignore them, and yet the books within are unquestionably worthwhile. Covers are a bitter lie perpetrated on an innocent audience.
7. Too Heavy
Many don’t realise this because of their razor thin pages, but books are typically made from trees. As a result, books (like trees) have mass. Indeed, preliminary research indicates that the more pages are used in a book’s construction, the heavier it becomes.
That these "bigger" books are also ideologically heavier can be no coincidence. Obviously, these should be avoided. As a rule, modernist books tend to be among the heaviest. Literary critics and scholars believe this is a result of the gravity of their subject matter.
8. Make You Think More
There is a lot of very real evidence indicating that people who read books are less likely to be distracted and as a result focus better. That’s right, reading books lengthens your attention span and encourages concentration. Unfortunately, many of us live lives that can’t possibly stand up to that kind of scrutiny.
The distraction is really all there is keeping us together.
9. Havens for Disease
Every page of a book is home to a panoply of unique fauna, a freeze-framed snapshot of the disease climate in which that leaf was last opened. Consider the repulsive personal biomes of every wretched individual you’ve ever met, and now consider that they sometimes have the audacity to hand you a copy of a book and expect you to sit with your face near it…
We try very hard not to even think about libraries. The only effective vaccine is total illiteracy.
10. Encourage Critical Thinking
Critical thinking is, at best, an act of systematic violence perpetrated against people who have committed no greater crime than being less well educated than you. For the sake of example, critical thinking might lead a reader (you) to observe that there are only actually nine entries on this list of ten problems with books that no one is talking about… in an effort to avoid that critique, I would then have to add a section on critical thinking.
Is it so great a crime that I remain wilfully ignorant of the lessons literature could teach me?