There is too little said or written, notably, in the sport pages of the daily newspapers, or on sports television, concerning athletic performance, in the compelling and challenging area of literature. Reading literature is a silent, albeit, popularly participated in and followed sport, which, akin to football and arm wrestling, can be appropriately catalogued as a contact sport. It’s rare appearance in the sports pages, may conceivably be due to the absence of motivated crowds, or, as equally possible, the dearth of reported physical injuries.

In the subject sport, the first physical contact, occurs at the very start of the event, when the newly purchased, hard-cover novel is brought home from the bookstore. When emancipated from its Barnes & Noble paper wrapping, it is athletically, suggested to turn the book around a few times, to admire the attractive book jacket, confirm the new acquisition for your home library, re-read the name of the auspicious novelist, and the title of the book, both as artistically presented on the book cover and its binding.

We strongly recommend, for reasons of safety and comfort, sitting in a comfortable chair, one that you have broken- in previously, as most suitable to optimum performance. Sitting down and adjusting your equilibrium for a few moments, is a crucial, meditative, warm-up. Then, determinatively and confidently, click in the reading lamp, and ergonomically and strategically, place your body in such a position as will insure your safest, most efficient, and comfortable performance. The book should now be turned over to an upright position for the “kick-off” or commencement of the activity. Caution: in the event of a protective wrap protecting the book-cover, the same is to be, strategically, removed and carefully inserted, in an appropriate receptacle; always bearing in mind, that the light-weight, fly-away material of such plastic protective covers, can easily by-pass the intended target (often due to a residential draft).

The next step is especially crucial to any acceptable performance of the sport; it involves the slow opening of the volume, at about half-way (empirically, the most effective point) and subtly, and very gently, inhaling the very faint, but pleasant, scent of the new book (in large part, freshly printed paper) and listening to that slight click of the new binding. We recommend that these latter two, fore-play activities be performed in private, in order to avoid the potential of a possibly puzzled reaction on the part of any sports spectators. The next recommended stage of the sport, will require some manual dexterity. As often is the case with this athletic endeavor, there may be one or two pages [still] stuck together, from its manufacture. Here, contact is to be effectuated with empathic surgical dexterity. Should you be equipped with long fingernails, a very careful slitting of the stuck pages may be accomplished with success and without damage. Should the fates be such, that the player’s fingernails be too short, a thin letter opener may be employed, but with appropriate surgical care.

We affirmatively encourage the reading of the book jacket for the purposes indicated above, and, as well, the preface, since the latter, often relates the intention of the author. For the purpose of properly engaging in this serious sport, however, we would discourage the reading of the “Introduction,” before reading the book, for several reasons. The most obvious reason for this admonition, is that many introductory statements, prematurely, reveal the action and outcome of the novel’s plot. An even more compelling reason is to assure the original, independent understanding of the work by the reader, without any previous influence. We do recommend reading the Introduction, but, only after the completion of the book; good books generally have erudite analyses authored by knowledgeable people, and such reading is interesting, and often illuminating. The sensitive and experienced reader may also enjoy comparing his personal perceptions and analysis, of the book, with that contained in its scholastically written, Introduction.

In the physical participation in the actual, physical, activity, or sport, of reading, we recommend that, all pages be turned from the top edge of the next succeeding page, that there be no simultaneous eating or drinking  (in order to protect the pristine appearance of the pages), that only a flat bookmark be used, to indicate the place last read, that the book, when not being read, be kept on a flat surface, or a bookshelf, and that, absolutely, no pen or pencil markings or notations be made therein (these are annoying and mar the page’s appearance). An available pad and writing implement, for any impulsive notation, should always be closely accessible.

The completed book should be granted its well- deserved respite on a selected bookshelf, with care, not to wedge it into a very tight space, in order to preserve the book jacket and the book itself. When painstakingly seeking the optimum venue for the book, especial care should be taken, to avoid stepping on the cat.

As is prudent in cases of all athletic activities, generally, participants should have regular medical check-ups, eat a nutritious diet, and get adequate sleep.


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Retired from the practice of law'; former Editor in Chief of Law Review; Phi Beta Kappa; Poet. Essayist Literature Student and enthusiast.

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