Where do we read our books? (Wo lesen wir unsere Bücher?)


Where? Underway, because people want to be enchanted in this position: sitting, but in motion, particularly when they know their surroundings as well as the passenger on the number 57 bus at half past eight in the morning. Then he reads his newspaper, but when he goes home, he reads a book, which he has in his briefcase. Ducks are born with webbed feet, some types of people with briefcases. Do people read in the tube? Yes. What? Books. Can they read big, heavy books there? Some can. How heavy? As heavy as they can carry. It can get quite philosophical in trains. Not so much in the bus, that is more for lighter reading. Some people also read on the street, like the animals.

The books which people don’t read underway, they read in bed. There follows a somewhat longer digression about love and books, books and women, in bed, elsewhere… cancelled! So, in bed. Very unhealthy. Yes, very unhealthy, because the oblique angle at which the eyes fall on the book… ask your eye doctor. No, don’t ask him, he will forbid you from reading in the evening, but you will still do it. Very unhealthy. One should only read light and entertaining, thrilling and relaxing, heavy, scientific and frivolous, serious and all other categories of literature, in bed, but nothing else.

People also read books after Sunday lunch. One can easily sleep through four hundred pages in about two or two and a half hours. Some people read books in a boat, or on their belly in a green meadow, particularly at this time of year. Some people, if they are boys, read books behind their school desks. Some people don’t read books at all, they review them. Some people read books on the beach, which makes the books pregnant. After a week or two, they swell out to become very fat, one is sure they are going to give birth to a small brochure, but no, it is just the sand that they have soaked up. It rustles so nicely when one turns the pages…

Some people read books in the… and we really must have a serious talk about that. I don’t approve, but I know that a lot of men do it. They smoke and read while they’re at it. That is not good. Listen to an old man, it is not good. Firstly, because it is not good, and not hygienic, and offends against the dignity of the author of the book, and just because. One can certainly think of books which one should only read there, the Völkische Beobachter[1] and such like, because they get so wet that they can no longer be used afterwards. One really shouldn’t read books in the bath. (Cultivated readers breathe a sigh of relief.)

Note: There are only very few situations in the life of a man in which he can, could or should not read books… But where do these books come from? That’s another story.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/V%C3%B6lkischer_Beobachter

Author: Kurt Tucholsky

Published in: PantrTigerCo Tucholsky Panter, Tiger & Co. TuchoReader Tucholsky Reader

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