Books are Good for Toothache

03/18/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

OK, this one is for the books. We need them for more reasons than reading. A while back, my molar was in its death throes, and the dentist was several days away. I was screaming in agony. Cats fled, dogs barked, and neighbors buried their heads under pillows. Aspirin failed. Whisky too. In desperation, I started throwing books against the wall. Soon, I was ripping apart my paperback classics.

The first pages I stuffed into my tooth were from Crime and Punishment, and once they had reached a soggy end, I rammed in The Idiot. But Dostoevsky failed to dull the pain. Joyce's Ulysses was next but the agony just bloomed. Tears were steaming down my scarlet face, as I jammed in leaves from Dickens' Hard Times, and finally total exhaustion delivered sleep with pages from Gone with The Wind sticking out of my mouth.

You can't do molar packing with an electronic file.

Books are good for much more than emergency dentistry. How about as weapons? Throwing The Beautiful and the Damned at your boyfriend or firing Dracula at the television screen. Maybe you can use Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking Glass for propping open a broken window frame. A friend tried that with his Kindle but it shattered into A Million Little Pieces. And then there are bookshelves, steaming with our choices, for all the world to see, and ready to fall on top of you if you're lucky enough to be living in California during an earthquake. Buried in print, submerged beneath the glory of words. What a way to go!

Of course, books are not the only place to enjoy the power of reading. It doesn't matter how you get your daily word calories but you must get them. The balanced diet is the way to go. A bit of computer reading, and then turning over a newspaper on a Sunday, followed by reading the small print on your credit card agreement before going to bed -- the ultimate cure for insomnia. But remember that books have that personal touch. We should keep them handy for our various needs. They are worth preserving in our Brave New World.

This Blogger's Books and Other Items from...