Wednesday, September 19, 2012

REVIEW: How Not to Read, by Dan Wilbur

How Not to Read, by Dan Wilbur. Published 2012 by Penguin. Humor.

Full disclosure: Dan Wilbur is a friend of a friend, and I hope someday to be able to call him my friend as well. He sent me the book to review, and Penguin asked me to blurb it, which I did. The book is based on his blog, Better Book Titles, in which he and others come up with creative and descriptive titles for books like White People Ruin Everything, also known as The People's History of the United States, by Howard Zinn, and Epic References! which you may know as The Sandman, by Neil Gaiman. He's even retitled his own book I'll Probably Stop Blogging Now That My Book's Been Published.

The book is hilarious. Although it does include a nice sampling of his re-written book titles, most of it is a comedic tour of the book industry, reading and literary studies. It's the kind of book that's fun to dip in and out of when you have a spare moment and need a chuckle. The basic thesis of the book is that reading is a waste of your time. Obviously there is a heavy component of irony in writing about how it's dumb to read. Wilbur is a comedian and a bookseller when he's not blogging and he puts his knowledge of the book world and his well-honed comedic turns of phrase to good use.

Chapter headings include
  • Books: What Are They, and What Are They Good For?
  • How To Read
  • How To Talk to Others About Books
  • and the introduction, Ughhh! Books Are the Worst!
Each section addresses its respective topic with insight and thoughtfulness, with the genuine wish to help the "reader" sort through the morass of the literary world. The first chapter, Books: What Are They... talks about what exactly a book is, where you might have heard of books, and the various evils for which books are responsible. Later on Wilbur treats us to a guide to the various sections of a bookstore or library, like "Nonfiction, Or the 'I Feel Smarter Just For Buying This' Section".  Etc.

How Not to Read would make a great gift for the book-lover in your life, or a gag gift for someone who doesn't like to read. It's not really kid-friendly though so I would hesitate to recommend it for reluctant younger readers, even though it is very funny.

Click here for my very serious interview with Dan Wilbur.

Rating: BUY

FTC Disclosure: I received this book for review and was asked to blurb it.


bermudaonion said...

This sounds fantastic!

Anonymous said...

I agree with bermudaonion, this sounds wonderful!

~L (omphaloskepsis)

Joyita Dutta said...

Read the first few pages on Amazon and found it delightful. Thanks for the recommendation!

caite said...

I am a sucker for hilarious.

Zibilee said...

This does sound like fun, and I love books that are satirical. When you add that to the fact that I love books about books, then this becomes a must read for me.

Ryan said...

This book sounds really cool!

Anonymous said...

I'll have to look for this. Sounds like fun! I'll look forward to the interview.

Sandy Nawrot said...

HA! What a hoot. I hope you do get to be a "direct friend" with him...I bet he is killer at a cocktail party.

Alexia561 said...

Sounds like a great read, as I love funny book books! And very cool that you were asked to blurb the book! Hope that you two eventually meet and become friends. Congrats!

Anonymous said...

Looks like a great gift. I'll have to find it!