Chances are good we all have at least a few in our houses: epic novels that are at least 700 pages long. I’ve heard them called many things—shelf benders, door stoppers, and lap numbers, to name a few.
With the economy still less than robust, and people trying to pinch pennies wherever possible, I’ve come up with a few alterative uses for these massive tomes.
- Home security. Ever been hit over the head with a 1,000-page novel? Have a copy of a book like Brandon Sanderson’s The Way of Kings (1008 pages) readily available on your nightstand to defend yourself from intruders. Works effectively as an impact weapon as well as a projectile.
- Insulation. Constructing bookshelves on your exterior walls really does reduce your energy bill! As Joel Ricket says in this article, “Books are the original insulator. A shelf of books along an outside wall works well to prevent heat escaping. If all the books were removed from the homes in Britain, our energy bills would rocket.”
- Step aerobics. The price of trendy exercise equipment can be outrageous! Fantasy fans looking to get in shape can save a substantial amount of money simply by gathering up hardcover copies of series like George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire—A Game of Thrones (694 pages), A Clash of Kings (768 pages), A Storm of Swords (974 pages), A Feast for Crows (754 pages), and A Dance with Dragons (1040 pages), and creating their own aerobic steps.
- Pest control. Creepy crawlies don’t stand a chance against L. Ron Hubbard’s 1006-page epic Battlefield Earth, which can almost instantaneously turn any spider, ant, or small rodent into gooey paste.
- Secret storage receptacles. Got something to hide? Hollow out the insides of an old shelf bender like David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest to create a perfect secret storage for jewelry, cash, or any number of unmentionable items.
- Makeshift booster seat. When my first daughter thought that she was old enough to eat at the dinner table sans highchair, I utilized the 1138-page omnibus hardcover edition of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. (Strangely enough, she found this unlikely booster seat perfect for second breakfasts and elevensies…)
- Bookends. What better use of mammoth books than to keep other, lesser books in line? Duologies are particularly good for this, like Dan Simmons’ Ilium (752 pages) and Olympos (912 pages).
- Educational aids. Reenact Edgar Allan Poe’s classic short story “The Casque of Amontillado“—in which an unsuspecting man dies a gruesome death after being bricked into a catacomb niche—by taking a dozen or so hefty hardcovers and “bricking” your child into a closet or small room. The youngsters will learn about Poe and the meaning of immurement, and will undoubtedly be scarred for life!
What’s the longest, hugest book you own?