Most of us are not leaders of totalitarian governments, and it's easy to think we never will be. But you never know where the little twists and turns of life are going to take you. Maybe today you are a college student folding clothes at Abercrombie & Fitch, but 10, 15 years from now, you could be an iron-fisted dictator. You never know. Like they say, life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans (Vladimir Lenin). One day you are applying to a video game design program, the next day you are repealing a constitution.
Anyway, when you do become cemented into a position of power that rides on the suppression of human rights and universal freedoms, one of the important ways of demonstrating that all expression is ultimately under your control is with the unforgettable spectacle of a mass book burning. There is nothing like watching the last repositories of their culture, history and ideas being burned away to suck the spirit out of a repressed people.
This symbolism is kind of lost when burning an e-reader, which is really just a device for displaying the information, whose original copy is obviously stored somewhere else. And considering that one e-reader can store a massive collection of text, burning a family's entire collection would probably make a sad little bonfire requiring about two newspaper pages and a stick of wood. Sure, you've cut off their access to the offending information, but the bigger point was to make a show of how powerful you are in being able to do so and how complete and massive the erasure of their identity is. You want them to be scared of you, and now they just kind of feel sorry for you.
Sure, book burning is just one of an array of tools the modern authoritarian state has at its disposal, but you really need every bit of help you can get to maintain fear and respect as anti-dictator technology (like the ability to Photoshop your head onto a llama, or tweet about how you farted during a speech) continues to evolve rapidly.
Oh man, i just realized the misquote above. I typed Vladimir Lenin, who was of course the Marxist revolutionary, but obviously I was thinking of famed musician and songwriter (and husband to Yoko Ono) Joseph Stalin.
#3. How Will People Open Secret Passageways?
Seriously, if you can't pull a cleverly titled book out of a bookcase to get it to swing open, what else are you going to do? You have to put an artifact in a slot or push a really obvious wooden carving every time? Boy, that is going to get old fast.
#2. You Can't Separate Bathroom Books from Outside Books
A lot of us have separate "bathroom reading" material -- usually magazines or books with information broken into short chunks, because most people don't have time to read War and Peace in one pooping. If you do, you should probably see a doctor.
For a lot of us, the bathroom readers never come out of the bathroom, which offers a level of sanitation we take for granted. As you may have heard, toilet flushing with the lid open leads to an aerosol spray of toilet water gently settling over the surroundings of said toilet like an invisible, poopy mist.
When we leave Uncle John's Bathroom Reader in its place, the mist that settles on it stays in the bathroom. But if we take Uncle John's Bathroom Reader for the Android platform with us so it can become The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo as we read it on the train, we may be bringing a lot of unwanted, monocellular little friends on that train trip.
Even if you're careful to put the lid down before flushing, there's always your hands. Sure, it might be fine if you are super careful to put the e-reader or book down, and then wipe, close the lid, flush, wash and dry your hands and then pick it up again. And how many people are going to be that careful considering that less than half the population washes their hands after going to the bathroom if nobody is watching?
Interesting note about that study -- once they put up a sign telling people to wash their hands, almost all the women started washing, while the number of men washing their hands actually went down slightly. Apparently 2 percent of the guys refused to wash their hands just to spite the sign.
So yeah, no matter how careful you yourself are, for the general population, one reading device traveling constantly between the bathroom and the outside world means that a small-town stardom-seeking poo bacterium has that many more opportunities to make its big break.
We could buy a separate e-reader for each location we're going to read it in, but most people probably would hesitate to shell out the money for that. Which brings up a related point ...
#1. People Will Really Have to Think Before Handing Out Fliers and Religious Pamphlets
Most of us who live in this modern society live under a deluge of unwanted paper, whether it be junk mail, or restaurant menus on your doorknob, or rave fliers stuffed under your windshield wipers, or religious pamphlets shoved at you by insincere-looking people who won't shut up.
Right now, with paper being as cheap as it is, they will carelessly toss these fliers and tracts and pamphlets at you as if it were confetti. If they were handing you this information on a $100 e-reader, however, I think these struggling alt-rock bands and mass proselytizers might spend a little more time considering exactly how much value the recipient is likely to place on this information. Seeing your five-cent tracts strewn on the ground might give you a slight sense of martyrdom without causing you to change your methods, but I think seeing a pile of your ridiculously expensive electronic pamphlets trodden to pieces by the uncaring public might lead to a change in strategy.
I don't personally think this is a drawback, but from the perspective of the literature distributor, it probably is. It's important to look at things from other people's perspectives so we can better understand how wrong they are.
"Oh, come on," you might think. "Just because they stop publishing books in the future doesn't mean people won't still make fliers." Maybe not, but maybe so. Things like paper become cheaper when they're mass-produced. If you're a huge company turning out reams of paper for reports, newspapers, magazines, books and whatnot, you can turn out each piece of paper for cheaper than if you were a small boutique house that only uses paper for greeting cards and the occasional run of band fliers.
If they stop making mass media on paper, that cuts out a lot of the market, which means less paper is going to be made, which means it might get more expensive. Maybe they're not handing you Nooks, but maybe they have to hand you really expensive pieces of paper. I am not an expert on the paper business or economics, so I could be way off base, but even if we're not actually headed toward a world where people have to think long and hard about if you are really interested before handing you a piece of promotional literature, we really should be.
Even if e-books completely flop and nothing else here comes to pass, I think we should brainstorm to find some other way to get this part to come true.
A countdown of the novels you need to call yourself a grown up
By SAM PARKER | 3 days ago
In an ascending level of importance, here are the 30 must-read books every man really should have tackled the time he's a grown up (and why).
30| Less Than Zero by Bret Easton Ellis
A group of narcissistic, moneyed Hollywood spawn spend their time taking drugs, drinking, and shagging each other in the back of their porches. What you wish your youth was like, essentially. A tale of unbridled excess and, naturally, subsequent destruction.
29| How to Lose Friends and Alienate People by Toby Young
Our journalist narrator tries to penetrate the glamorous New York scene, but is hampered by his alarming ability to always say the wrong thing. A great lesson in how not to tackle your first move to the big city.
28| Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Seders
Thought you had it tough? Growing up gay, Greek, and with a lisp in North Carolina, USA, Seders tells the story of his youth through a series of hilarious essays. Worth it for the pithy one-liners alone.
27| My Uncle Oswald by Roald Dahl
For any man who still associates Dahl with giant peaches and magic fingers, step into the sex-driven world of his adult stories. The eponymous Oswald hatches a plan to obtain the world?s most powerful aphrodisiac and, with the help of a female accomplice, steals the sperm of the world?s most brilliant men. Einstein, Freud, and Picasso all fall victim to the scheme.
26| Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami
Everyone should read at least one Murakami (several, really), and this is up there with the best. Hearing The Beatles song that this novel takes its title from, protagonist Toru dwells upon his student days in the ?60s protesting against the status quo. His relationship with the beautiful but damaged Naoko is a lesson that emotional dependence is not love.
25| One Flew Over the Cuckoo?s Nest by Ken Kessey
A paranoid schizophrenic, confined to an asylum, narrates a tale full of racial tension, sexual repression, and confronts the treatment of the mentally ill. Ken Kesey wrote this after his experiments with LSD.
24| The Picture of Dorian Grey by Oscar Wilde
Hedonism, vanity, and the selfishness of youth are key in this book. The original cocky upstart, Wilde?s precocious wit is also a valuable lesson in pissing off the powers that be.
23| The Love Song of Alfred J. Pruflock by T.S. Eliot
?No! I am not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be??there are a handful of poems every man should read whether they like poetry or not, and Eliot?s stream-of-consciousness moan about the frustrations and disillusionments of modern life is emphatically one of them.
22| Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie
The book that sparked the biggest literary controversy of our time. The fatwa issued because of critical references of the Prophet Mohammed saw Rushdie go into hiding for over a decade. This novel looks at a man trapped between Eastern and Western cultures, and flits between times and continents.
21| The Secret History by Donna Tartt
Conspiracy, secrecy, and murder are a thrilling backbone of this tale of a group of elise Classics students. The theme? How we the young and insecure can easily be manipulated.
20| Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut
Vonnegut?s most famous novel contains an account of when the Allies bombed Dresden, which he was caught up in as a German prisoner of war. Time-shifting also plays a part in this weird tale, which gives an insight into one of the most important events in recent history.
19| The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz
A second generation Dominican growing up in New Jersey, Oscar is a nerdy fat kid who loves comics and sci-fi. Unable to display the machismo expected of boys in the Latin community, he is a likeable embodiment of the misunderstood outsider. And we?ve all been one of those, haven?t we?
18| The Fall by Albert Camus
A Parisian barrister recounts his fall from wealth and high regard. An advocate for the less fortunate, he nevertheless fails to do anything when he hears a woman fall to her death on a riverbank. A riveting look at that great preoccupation: how we want others to see us.
17| The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing
A look at Communism in the 1950s through the thoughts of Anna Wulf, a radical left-winger in post-war Britain. Read for an insight into what it?s like to be the enemy in your own country.
16| The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand
A young architect refuses to create the work that others want, believing that his own, new interpretations are superior to the traditions of the past. The lesson here: Being an individual is about more than dying your hair black and liking rubbish bands.
15| The Road by Cormac McCarthy
In a bleak, post-apocalyptic world, a man and is son travel South to avoid the coming winter. In with the terse prose and unbearable tension is a great story of fatherhood.
14| What We Talk About When We Talk About Love by Raymond Carver
What are years 0 to 30 about if not fickle affections and brutal heartbreak? Conversations over gin are serialized in this collection of short stories that make for bleak but crucial reading.
13| Generation X by Douglas Coupland
Three friends trapped in dead-end ?McJobs? reach adulthood in early ?80s California. The ultimate post-graduation book about intellectuazing not knowing what the hell to do with yourself.
12| The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
The Great American Novel captures the decadence of the 1920s, while telling the story of a man who has desperately reinvented himself to win back the woman he loves. Relatable for anyone who ever obsessively chased a first love. Ring any bells?
11| The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
Any young man who loved The Catcher in the Rye ought to read Plath?s novel, a similar story told from a female perspective. The beautifully written semi-autobiographical tale follows a young woman in the cusp of adulthood who struggles with her mental health.
10| On the Road by Jack Kerouac
The book that launched a million gap years, On the Road is beat poet pioneer Jack Kerouac?s free form account of a hedonistic road trip across America in the 50s that excites you when you?re still young enough to grab a backpack and follow him, and frustrates the hell out of you with its pretentiousness thereafter.
9| White Teeth by Zadie Smith
Written by the prodigious Smith aged just 24 (a fact either painful or inspiring?you decide), this is the best exploration of modern multicultural Britain we have. And you?re going to laugh out loud. A lot.
8| Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
One of the great dystopian novels, Huxley?s idea of a world in which we distract ourselves from reality to the point we accept a totalitarian regime seems more plausible than ever in the X-factor age.
7| The Watchmen by Alan Moore
The ?graphic novel? that made reading books okay (as if it ever wasn?t), The Watchmen is, of course, much more than that?one of the most gripping fictional narratives of the past 40 years.
6| High Windows by Philip Larkin
Grump old sod that he was, Larkin produced some of modern Britain?s most accessible and compelling poetry. Even the most verse-phobic men will shudder with recognition at the devastating ?This be the verse??
5| Fear & Loating in Las Vegas by Hunters S. Thompson
What is being in your 20s about if not going on a road trip with your best friend, buying a huge bag of hallucinogenic drugs, and losing your mind in Vegas? Okay, so few of us ever came remotely near matching Thompson?s hedonism even during our wild years, but this book remains the definitive way to experience drug abuse vicariously.
4| The Line of Beauty by Alan Hollinghurst
Set in the aftermath of Margaret Thatcher?s landslide victory in 1983, Hollinghurst?s Booker winning novel makes being a young gay man seem sexy and London seem conquerable.
3| The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
Perhaps the ultimate ?someone understands me!? moment literature has to offer any reasonably sensitive and intelligent teenage boy, Salinger?s idiosyncratic and often hilarious tale of a teenage boy struggling with his mental health in the face of a world of ?phones? is, like sport, something you either fall for when you?re a kid or spend your adult years wondering what the fuss is all about. For the former, this book still has few equals.
2| Men Without Women by Ernest Hemingway
There?s a strong case to say all men should read all Hemingway, but as an introduction to his style and major themes (bullfighting, drinking, not knowing what the hell to do about women), this collection of short stories is priceless and should whet the appetite to tackle the major novels (specifically The Sun Also Rises, Farewell to Arms, and For Whom the Bell Tolls?in that order).
1| 1984 by George Orwell
Along with Animal Farm, 1984 is George Orwell?s gift to anyone experiencing their moment of political awakening, a book that drags you from the self-involvement of adolescence to the harrowing realisation that politics and the wider world can and will impact your life. Every important reason to be watchful, skeptical, and demanding of your government is in there.
This story originally appeared on Esquire.co.uk.
* Minor edits have been made by the Esquiremag.ph editors.