Random Hypotheticals about Books

Susan KellyBy

Susan Kelly

Ever since I was a kid, I’ve thought that the silliest hypothetical question ever posed was, or is: If you were only permitted to take one book with you to a desert island, what would that book be?

Seriously, dude? One book?

What happens when you finish reading it? Or re-reading it? What do you do then? Write your own sequel?

I would have to beg the question, and respond by saying that I’d want to take with me every good book I’d never read. Which would, of course, require a freighter to transport, or at least a cargo plane.

Let me pause here so we can all remember one of the all-time great Twilight Zone episodes, in which Burgess Meredith, an avid reader, survives some unspecified mega-disaster that apparently wipes out the rest of humanity but leaves the local library intact. Meredith is ecstatic at the thought of spending the rest of his life in solitude,immersed in his beloved books.

And then he breaks his glasses.

Trust me, there is no writer on the planet who doesn’t rank this as one of her or his Top Ten Fave TZ episodes.

Another concept I’ve never quite grasped is that of “summer reading.” Why would you want to read a book in the summer that you wouldn’t want to read in the winter? Or the fall? Or the spring? Are novels seasonal?

Is this like only wearing white shoes between Memorial Day and Labor Day?

The same holds true of so-called “airplane reading.” Are there books you can only read on a Delta flight from Boston to Atlanta? A British Airways flight from New York to London? And, conversely, are there books you can read only at home, or at least on the ground?

“Hey, Alice, remind me to stick the newest Tom Clancy in my carry-on bag. Airport security will confiscate my copy of ‘The Critique of Pure Reason.'”

It just occurred to me that there may be people who read only on airplanes. In the summer.

Hypothetically speaking.