Santa Blogs XI

Dear Santa Blogs:

I am sure you mean well, with your advice on giving books as gifts this time of year, but I wonder whether you have considered how you are abetting the forces of obesity in this country. Reading being of necessity a sedentary occupation, it means people are simply sitting in spots where there’s enough light, lazily turning a page from time to time. People with a Kindle or other machine capable of downloading text can take their reading along on more energetic activities. Further, it is much easier to eat while reading, which requires just one hand free to occasionally turn a page. Have you considered these things?

Light in Body and Spirit

Dear Lightweight:

I am sure you mean well, but I wonder whether you really thought I would believe you were wondering about any of this at all. Your purpose was to take poor old Santa Blogs to the woodshed or, worse, the gym.

I’ve met your type before, last year, for example, in that commercial for 60 minutes of play a day, which showed NFL players luring children away from less healthy activities, like watching television, playing computer games, and READING. I notice that commercial went away after a while. Perhaps Blogsy’s Army, once mobilized, convinced somebody that knocking reading was not necessarily the high road to a happier, healthier population. Or maybe it was just one of those things.

But one must admit to the truth of some of what you say. People with computers do find it harder to eat and drink while they work on their personal notepads; this is why they congregate for greater strength in coffee shops. They consume their intellectual material with coffee and brownies just the length of one arm (with credit card in hand) away.

But I wonder whether you have considered the full implications of those announcements we keep getting that this year’s iBook IV is smaller and lighter than last year’s model. A person carrying a book to that coffee shop is actually carrying ten times the weight. Just lifting the book to the lap is more exercise than you get on a Kindle, unless it’s a new model and you wear off a few hundred calories swearing at all the new icons in different places.

And listen, Light, I don’t think you appreciate the graceful coordination required to turn pages. Oh, yes, those eBooks mimic the action, but you aren’t really lifting anything and pushing it through the air. Some readers, Light, have cats, too, and need to push aside a large heavy cat to get their reading done. (Ever notice how a cat senses when a person is reading something and immediately spreads out across it. Or do you prefer gerbils, which, after all, come with an exercise wheel?)

No, for sheer health, Light, you need something solid to read. Will and Ariel Durant’s outline of civilization is a workout for the mind and the muscle. Large—and largely unavailable in paperback—its eleven volumes will keep that waistline down (unless you prop your books on your knees, of course.) It’s been made available in a leatherbound edition, too, which makes it even heavier.

Give up reading light and take up reading, Light.

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