Book Abuse 101

By Dan Bergstein

“Asan American who deeply believes in free speech, I regard burning a book as anearly unspeakably terrible thing.” — Gustav Niebuhr, The Washington Post

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

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

Drownthe book.

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

Lieto 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 shelterinstead. This’ll teach the book.

Teasethe book.

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

Bea snob.

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

Usethe 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 forpressing spiders.

Givethe book a backhanded compliment.

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

Mockthe 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 anews station and a Spanish top 40 station at the same time. Let it stay thereovernight.

Scarethe book.

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

Addinsult to injury.

Use the book to turn the pages of a better book. And soon.

Lendthe book.

Give the book to someone irresponsible, like that neighborhood kid who likes tobreak 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 leta book and those who read it know where you stand but don’t want all thenasty media coverage.  (What’s wrong with you,anyway?)

Dan Bergstein is alineman for the county.