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Real Book Lovers Aren't Afraid to Cut Them in Half

People on Twitter got mad over what is actually an obvious truth: Ruining books is a key part of enjoying them.

by Hannah Smothers
Jan 21 2020, 5:27pm

tamaw via Getty

Genius is not always immediately recognizable: Van Gogh was unappreciated in his time, Mendel’s theories on heredity weren’t understood until long after his death, and a man who cuts his biggest books in half to make them more portable is currently being admonished online. Early Tuesday morning, Alex Christofi (a writer of books, himself) shared a photo on Twitter of three infamously large tomes, cut in half lengthwise: Middlesex, Infinite Jest, and Dostoevsky: A Writer in His Time. Each of these books easily clocks in at over 500 pages; cutting them in half to reduce their heft seems, to me, like an objectively great idea. And yet the nerds online are berating Christofi on the grounds that he trampled on the very sanctity of books everywhere.

I haven’t encountered the issue of reading a book that’s simply too large since I read East of Eden in 2012, but the logic of cutting doorstoppers in half is frankly unimpeachable: Thick books can’t be tucked into jacket pockets, take up inordinate space in a bag, and are hard to hold up for long periods of time. Rarely, if ever, does one need to have the entire book on hand, so why not divide it into more easily totable portions? Heck, that Dostoevsky biography Christofi’s reading could even be divided into quarters.

One argument is to read honkin’ books on a Kindle, but this removes several elements of fun: reading an actual BOOK, the thrill of cutting a book in half (this never would’ve been allowed in school, and therefore is fun to do as an adult), and having conversations with strangers who see and, whether they admit it or not, respect your bold approach to literature.

Christofi didn’t immediately respond to a VICE inquiry about his stroke of genius, but Shayla Love, a fellow senior staff writer at VICE, said the only way she was able to read The Power Broker (1,336 pages!!!) was by cutting her copy in half. Love simply spread the book out really wide, cut it in half with scissors, then—and this is a crucial step—used clear duct tape to seal the binding where she’d cut it. Doing this made The Power Broker “so much easier to carry around,” Love said, especially on her daily commute.

To the fools arguing that manipulating a book is some kind of sacrilege, I say that books, at their best, are dynamic objects: You only add to their sentimental value by wrecking them via highlighted passages, coffee and wine spills, and, yes, even cutting them in half. So cut your books in half, in thirds, in eighths, even! Necessity is the mother of invention, as the adage goes, and this invention is not only necessary, but worthy and good.

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