Natterings by Nat Lauzon, as seen in The Monitor, 2009
Recently, a friend asked me if I'd read the book "Pillars of the Earth" by Ken Follett. I did, about a year ago. It was a tome and my arm is still experiencing nerve damage.
It was one of those Oprah Book Club selections and being the pliable, glassy-eyed fawn in the cult of Oprah that I am, I pranced right out to get a copy. The story revolves around the building of a church in the 1100's. Think of it like the modern day Extreme Makeover Home Edition. Except with fewer bullhorns and no weepy designers with unnaturally white teeth. In fact, I believe teeth were a luxury item in 12th century England.
But I digress. I'm not here to review it for you (I liked it. There.). I would however, like to expand on that whole 'nerve damage' remark because really, books should not be that big. This one is almost 1000 pages. Which is about 700 pages more than anyone should be expected to prop upright. There exists an ever-present problem of trying to balance a book whose surplus of pages are gathered on one side or the other. Fine when you've got a small novel to deal with. Not so good when you're reading a volume that rivals the Yellow Pages. Your arms get tired before your eyes do. I'm pretty sure you've never had occasion to look at my feeble little wrists, but if you did you'd see that like the rest of me, they were not meant for manual labour.
Forget about portability. You can't bring a massive book on the metro (unless you plan on using it as a weapon), it's annoying as plane carry-on and even reading it in bed is a potential face-smashing nightmare should you happen to drift off. Nope. If you want to read a book that big, prepare to stay tethered to a desk for all eternity. And if it falls off the desk, for the love of god - BEND WITH YOUR KNEES! Chances are before you even muddle your way to the epilogue, your book will have been repurposed anyway - to hold up one end of a coffee table, to prop open a window, to act as a doorstop. Right now, there's an old lady sitting on "War and Peace" to drive her car. And that ain't right. It's why no one ever showed up at Tolstoy's book signings. Who wants to lug that thing around?
On vacation back in January, I saw a lady on the beach with a fabulous little gadget called The Kindle (which has been around the last couple of years, but this kid is slow on the uptake). The Kindle lets you download entire books and read them page by page on a tidy, compact screen. Awesome idea for traveling. Thing is, I actually like physical books. So, I'm working on inventing a perforated book spine that lets me rip my books into lightweight, purse-sized sections.
That, or I'll just wait for the movie to come out.