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Reading? Aren't books good for anything else?

Bookchairlondon Books are pretty useless when it comes to multi-tasking. They're good for one thing -- reading -- and not much else. In the past, you might be able to stick them on a shelf and take them down again ... but still, nothing to do with them but read.

Until now. New Yorker contributor Bruce McCall has a helpful roster of non-reading book activities in "50 Things to Do with a Book (now that reading is dead)." The thing is, sad to say, another book, but it includes his illustrations in additions to the words. So you can look as well as read. That's two things.

And then there is the list, revelatory in its demonstration of just how many purposes a book might have. You can schlep books down the Nile and stack them in the form of pyramids. Or gather copies of "To Kill a Mockingbird" and chuck them at real live birds (mockingbirds not required). Another suggestion: strap a couple of thick tomes to your feet to create a pair of elevator books

I would tell you more of the 50 things, but I can't be bothered to read this book, can I? Besides, I'm using it as a cheese plate right now.

-- Carolyn Kellogg

Photo: Books as furniture in the bookchair, on display at the London Design Festival 2008. Credit: Gill Rickson via Flickr.

 
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