Book Abuse 101

“As an American who deeply believes in free speech, I regard burning a book as a nearly unspeakably terrible thing.” -- Gustav Niebuhr, The Washington Post


Burning a book sure makes a lot of people angry. And it’s no wonder. Setting fire to a book that you find objectionable is dangerous. You run the risk of burning down your house. And you’ll attract snakes looking for warmth.  This is probably why so many folks these days are upset over book burning. No one likes snakes.


Nothing good can come from burning a book. To avoid controversy and fire but still show that you disagree with a book, try these less incendiary approaches to book abuse. 


Drown the book.

Fill a bucket with water, use hot water if you are particularly angry, and then plop the book into the bucket. Wait for the air bubbles to cease before taking the book out. If you enjoyed parts of a novel but hated the ending (you just didn't buy it when Frederick became Dean of Admissions and discovered gold in Cameroon the next day), just dunk the novel into the water and quickly bring it up. This will show that you both have a heart and mean business.


Lie to the book.

Tell the book that you will take it out for ice cream. As you’re driving, quickly change directions at the last moment and go to a sad animal shelter instead. This’ll teach the book.


Tease the book.

Call the book and say, “Hi. This is Hollywood, and we would like to make you into a movie.” When the book gets excited, quickly shout, “Just kidding, you stupid book!” For best results, record the book’s reaction with a hidden video camera and post the video on YouTube.


Be a snob.

Throw a great party, but don’t invite the book. Instead, invite sexy, slim magazines. In the days and weeks after the party, keeping mentioning the party within earshot of the book.


Use the book for other purposes.

Books hate it when they are used to prop open windows and for pressing flowers. Take things a step further and use the book to prop open toilet seats and for pressing spiders.


Give the book a backhanded compliment.

Tell the book something such as, "Wow. You’re really pretty, for a book."


Mock the book.

Read passages aloud in a silly British voice. You may wish to add, “Balderdash" to the end of every paragraph.


Torture the book.

Place the book in a small locked room with a loud radio that is picking up a news station and a Spanish top 40 station at the same time. Let it stay there overnight.


Scare the book.

Tell the book that it has lupus. This works particularly well on a Friday night, when the book has no chance of getting a doctor’s appointment to double check your claim and must worry for the entire weekend.


Add insult to injury.

Use the book to turn the pages of a better book. And so on.


Lend the book.

Give the book to someone irresponsible, like that neighborhood kid who likes to break light bulbs behind the Quick Mart. Or lend it to a new mom whose curious, ill-mannered kids are always covered in chocolate, mud, and various tree saps. 


Use any or all of these tips the next time you want to let a book and those who read it know where you stand but don’t want all the nasty media coverage.  (What's wrong with you, anyway?)


Dan Bergstein is a lineman for the county.

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