There are people who love books and then there are people who love to read, and they’re not always in the same place on the Venn diagram. Right now, a war on Twitter is raging over the sanctity of books as objects versus the practicality of actually carrying them around to read, especially super big, chonky ones. They’re heavy! Wouldn’t it make sense to…cut them in half?
That’s what author Alex Christofi suggested people do on Twitter, which led to him being called a “book murderer” by his colleagues, according to him.
To be clear, he cuts the book along the binding, so it’s actually the first and second half of the book in two volumes. if he cut it across the middle that would make absolutely no sense and he should definitely be labeled a book murderer.
He shared pictures of his three sliced books, advertising he’s been reading Dostoevsky, The Infinite Jest, and Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides. That’s the one I’m personally most skeptical about because Middlesex is not really that long, but whatever.
Yesterday my colleague called me a 'book murderer' because I cut long books in half to make them more portable. Does anyone else do this? Is it just me? pic.twitter.com/VQUUdJMpwT— Alex Christofi (@alex_christofi) January 21, 2020
People are not pleased with this blatant disrespect to the written word, though they recognized Christofi’s right to do whatever he wants. As an author himself, he does have some skin in the game. Clearly, he wouldn’t take it personally as a writer if someone did this to his books:
My head says you can do what you like with your stuff.— DVdR (@DVDReeck) January 21, 2020
My emotional response to this: pic.twitter.com/OblkUFXbLR
Exactly that - I love old octavo hardbacks and if you were reading e.g. War and Peace, it would come in three volumes. It's modernity that's the real psycho here.— Alex Christofi (@alex_christofi) January 21, 2020
If people would just publish in sensible sized volumes I wouldn't need to take matters into my own hands.— Alex Christofi (@alex_christofi) January 21, 2020
i've been an avid reader since i was 2. carrying around books was never a burden to me, it was a joy. to mutilate a book to save an inch or two/a few ounces, then criticize the author/publisher for making such large/long/big books. his bindings are loose in more ways than one.— purple eye-bag majesty (@BloggerX1) January 21, 2020
I dog-ear pages, underline bits, write notes, drop sauce on them and take them in the bath. But you, madam, need to get in the bin— Harriet Marsden (@harriet1marsden) January 21, 2020
It seems other people do this as well, and they warned Christofi that there are hidden dangers to book slicing:
I've heard the first half is the best half— Alex Christofi (@alex_christofi) January 21, 2020
From a practical standpoint, losing half of a book is a big issue if you want to finish it. And a few people pointed out that The Infinite Jest is full of long footnotes from the author, David Foster Wallace, who made them as important as the writing. Christofi admitted he messed up there:
Glad you asked. I realised my error after I'd cut the book in half so I doubled down and made a separate booklet (not pictured) bound in a diagram of all the characters' relationships.— Alex Christofi (@alex_christofi) January 21, 2020
Smart— Flip Top Jim (@jimlefevre) January 21, 2020
Is it smart? Well, Christofi says it’s the only choice for him:
Right! The alternative is I just don't read them because I can't be bothered to carry them around— Alex Christofi (@alex_christofi) January 21, 2020
Hmm. Maybe what the man really needs is a Kindle reader. They’re very lightweight.