I stumbled upon this video today via Buzzfeed: reality TV star Lauren Conrad demonstrates how to chop up old, dusty books and turn them into a charming storage bin.
Now, even before she began destroying literature for the camera, I admit that I didn't have an especially high opinion of Conrad -- famous for her appearances on MTV's The Hills and Laguna Beach: The Real Orange County. (Salon.com called her "probably one of the dullest major characters in reality television history.")
But Conrad's take had me particularly irritated. She calls her approach "a great way to display vintage books or slightly used books."
There are several problems with that statement. First, part of the point of displaying your books is so that you can come back to them and reread them. You can't reread a book when you've thrown everything substantial in it away. Second, vintage books aren't always cheap. Why on earth would you buy a vintage book and rip it up, just keeping the spine?
As the Buzzfeed staff writer notes, "This is the perfect idea for someone who likes to pretend that they read."
The thing is, Conrad should know better, as the New York Times-bestselling author of the chick-lit novel L.A. Candy. (Entertainment Weekly graded it a "C" upon its release in 2009, calling it "a dismal portent of the future of pop culture, disguised as escapist fiction aimed at young-adult LC fans who might like a bookshaped object as a keepsake now that Conrad has left her popular show.")
The situation is made even more barbaric by Conrad's choice of books, which include the beloved A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket (i.e. Daniel Handler). Is nothing sacred?!When approached for comment on how he felt about his books being murdered, Mr. Snicket told The Huffington Post this morning:
"It has always been my belief that people who spend too much time with my work end up as lost souls, drained of reason, who lead lives of raving emptiness and occasional lunatic violence. What a relief it is to see this documented."
I couldn't have said it better myself.
Now, Lauren Conrad is hardly the first person to do this, nor, I'm sure, the last. I just happen to be picking on her because she was an easy target.
I realize that in the past, we have posted some book craft projects on HuffPost Books. But after seeing this, I've decided that I can no longer really get behind them. Unless you're a professional artist, please stop cutting up books.
There are so many people who can't afford new books; Why would you not give your books to someone who needs them? Donate them to a library (particularly in a poorer area) or homeless shelter? Resell them to a used book store so they can be sold at lower prices? If you're done with a book, and you don't want it anymore, you can even just leave it in a public place. I assure you it will be gone the next time you return!
Despite what some of us may think (we who get free books, buy on ereaders, have disposable income), reading is not a cheap habit. Most new, adult hard cover books cost around 25 to 30 dollars. Hard cover children's titles are maybe 10 dollars fewer.
Now, obviously, price is not the only thing keeping a lot of people from reading. But it's definitely contributing to the problem. Parents who can barely afford to put food on the table are most likely not buying their children new books regularly.
In a time of economic troubles, it seems ridiculously wasteful to use unwanted books to make silly crafts. But what do you think? Let me know in the comments!
Here's the video, if you're interested in watching books being killed.
WATCH LAURA CONRAD DESTROY LEMONY SNICKET BOOKS"
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