Thursday, August 30, 2012

How Not To Read

Looking for that perfect back to school gift... for yourself? Dan Wilbur's new book How Not To Read is a guide to canonical literature for those of us who grew up reading the boxes of Pop-Tarts and watching TV at the same time. In addition to showing how to feign knowledge of books you haven't read, Wilbur proves that it's okay, even fun to judge a book by its cover. Specifically, his chapter "On Titles" makes the point that books for far too long have gotten away with making promises they can't keep on their front covers. How Not To Read sets the record straight with over a dozen examples of book covers that should have been, cutting through the hype and getting to the point. Like this remake of Judi Barrett's Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs:

You could spend hours making up alternative titles of your own based on story lines. Trust me. For example, I thought at first of renaming Knit Your Own Dog "Staying In: An Expert's Guide," or "Learn to Love What You Can't Feel," until I realized that simply changing the inflection of the word "Own" would do the trick, as would adding the word "Damn" between "Own" and "Dog." And like that, Knit Your Own Dog came to life, with a stark, defensive air that any reader of the book will tell you's been there all along.

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