Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Uses for Books

Christmas came, and I got books. Christmas went, and I bought books. Unfortunately, since my room is not the TARDIS, time and space become issues. But when I am going to read these new beauties is less problematic than where I am going to put them. That was the dilemma I faced as I stood, surveying the clutter around me, with boxes at my feet and bags in my hands. How do I squeeze all five hundred some odd papery darlings into my sardine can room? I maxed out my shelves ages ago—maybe even the Christmas before last. Unfazed, I nodded to myself and set my jaw. I was just going to have to get creative. Yet in the end, the solution was far simpler than I had envisioned. Mostly it involved advanced particle physics, cardboard boxes, scissors, and a stick of dynamite. (Okay, that was a lie—I used two sticks.)

Of course, all that got me thinking—books aren’t just good for reading. So I made a list…of other uses.

*Clears throat and tries out salesman voice. Speaks quickly. “Not all products are endorsed. Do not try these at home. If you do try these at home, please send me the video.”*  

Tired of sleepless nights, whiling away the wee hours with boredom as your sole companion? Introducing the new Lorelei Book Bed®, custom-built to specifications with our wide range of novels, classic and contemporary. Pro:  Feel yourself relaxing as the crisp pages whisper enchanting stories to ease your dreams. Con:  On occasion, customers have complained of sore backs. (We think these customers are ninnies.)

Do you live in a flood zone? Do you fear a watery demise? Simply lash your books together, following our Atlantis Three Step Diagram®, and ride out the waves on the backs of your precious hardcovers. Lemony Snicket would be proud. Pro:  You survive. Con:  Your books don’t.

During the winter, accidents and ice storms invariably causes power outages, leaving you without a furnace to warm your fingers and toes. Rather than freezing to death, simply line your walls with our Amateur Insulation Kit®. Kit includes one hammer, three nails, and seven thousand copies of To Build a Fire and Other Stories. Pro:  No need to burn the furniture for heat. Con:  Maybe you hate your furniture.

Tired of sitting around all day, reading and feeling your muscles turning to goop? Why not build a maze of books. Simply follow our Daedalus Labyrinth Diagram® and unlock hours of fun. Pro:  Endless entertainment. Con:  Risks include getting lost and dying.

Sure, the zombie apocalypse hasn’t come yet, but for a smart person like you, it’s never too early to be thoroughly equipped. In just three easy installments of $999.99, Break-Face’s Book Launcher® can be all yours. Pro:  Field-tested accuracy and ease of loading. Con:  This might mean kissing your copy of World War Z goodbye.

Do you live in an old building? Has your staircase ever collapsed? Penrose Stair-Builders® has just the solution for you. Simply fill our patent iron frame with books, and voila, you shall ascend once more. Pro:  Renewed access to the upper levels of your home…maybe. Con:  If your staircase bit the dust, the rest of your house might be headed that way too.

Are you tired of straining your mind, trying to figure out how to press your frittata (since experience shows that makes it yummier)? Strain your mind no more. Simply use our Tantalus Book Scale® to determine how many novels you need to properly weight your culinary delight. Pro:  A book with breakfast. Con:  People tend to look at you funny when you refrigerate your reading material.

Is your piano crooked? Does your table list? Are your shelves uneven? Procrustes Levelers United® offers free, one-on-one consulting services concerning which books to use for that perfect, straight appearance you crave. Pro:  No more awkward tilts. Con:  Death threats from book lovers.


The uses for books are endless. You can stand on them to make yourself taller. You can bench-press them or build your own chair. You could even—gasp—start a fire. Which begs the question:  What is a book really? What separates a book from a brick or a log? Aside from the pretty binding and the creamy pages or the cracking cover and the musty leaves, what makes it special?

When I read a story, I don’t see just paper and print stuffed between two hard bits of cardboard—I see hours of labor. I see a creature dragged kicking and screaming into this world with much blood, sweat, and tear-smudged ink along the way. I see a soul attempting to bring clarity to chaos or chaos to clarity. More than that, I see reasoning and wondering and imagining. I see ideas. One moment I am myself; another I am processing my world through a stranger’s vision and learning and becoming and altering in my moods and perceptions. Beyond the cover design and the cut of the font, I see art.

But how do you determine the value of a book? Sometimes according to the money you paid or the person who gave it to you. Sometimes the story is too priceless for words. Sometimes it is too terrible. Beyond economics and cash, though, there is a deeper element. Authors don’t just write novels—they pour their time into their works, knowing they will never get that time back. They spend chunks of their life on this labor, with strange hopes—perhaps—of bettering the world or opening minds or grinding an axe or warning of danger. The list goes on. They give themselves when they give their words.

Books are not people. They do not breathe and grow and become. Yes, they fade or endure, but they do not live, and they do not die. Not in the way that we do. Yet somehow they change lives and melt hearts and spark revolutions. They are reminders of our souls, and for some, they will be the only monuments. For that, I think, they are priceless.  


  1. Thank you for the hilarious sales pitches! And, yes, Books are art and often worth more than what people pay because of the work authors and others put into them.

  2. You're welcome, and thank you! Also, spot on--books are wonderful. I'd say they're better than any other art form, but I might be slightly biased. :)

  3. I love this post so much. You made me laugh and you made me think *massive round of applause*.


    1. Aww, thanks! :) It's definitely one of my favorites. I'm glad I could make you laugh and think. *bows deeply*