March 12, 2013

Slice Masterpiece Into Pieces - Destructive or Constructive?

The concrete evidence for one of my observations, which is that American (Western) people are overall physically stronger than Asian, is the difference of bookbinding. Back in China, we don't often see books that are over 3 inch thick (except dictionary or other reference books). When I was young I read some of my first long fictions all in multiple volumes: John Christopher (by Roman Roland) in 4 volumes, Notre Dame of Paris (by Hugo) in 2 volumes, The Count of Monte Christo in 3 volume. But here in USA, most of long fictions were printed in one single volume.

I still remember in my art history class during my graduate school, a professor held a 3 inch thick text book in almost magazine size with undisturbed poise, encouraged us to buy that "handy" version. I was wondered and had to re-think the definition of the word "handy".

I like to read, but when holding a book that is over 1000 pages, I just don't feel much of convenience. Recently I purchased an unabridged version of "Les Miserable". It is in small size, but very thick, over 3 inches. Out of spontaneous thought I decided to re-produce this book by my "Chinese" tradition. Since Hugo wrote this book in different "volumes" - "Fontine"; "Cosette", "Marrius", etc., I split the book by following this division. I sliced the book carefully, and copied the first page of each volume in card-stock paper, and used them as cover pages. The result was not 100% perfect but very pleasant, because I can now read this masterpiece with convenience, and feel the truly justified meaning of "handy".


  1. yunyi, sounds like you found an excellent solution to your problem and a great way to enhance your reading pleasure.

  2. Great idea, Yunyi! I personally tend to avoid very large books; they look too overwhelming. I'd probably read a thick book if it was broken up into volumes like you've shown here.

  3. Kris, actually I do find this kind of big reading seems faster and easier when reading in such smaller volumes. At least psychologically it is not so intimidating.

  4. Smart idea.
    I don't like the thought of reading such long books either but sometimes they are worth it.

    Yun Yi, one of my favorite long tales was The Count of Monte Christo. That story fascinated me back when I was a child. To this day I still consider it one of my favorites.

  5. @Angie, "The Count of Monte Christo", that's what I meant to say in my post. I missed "The Count", just fixed it. I read this book when I was in high school. So fascinating!

  6. That was funny Yun Yi. I would never have thought of that let alone do it. I'd be worried about the whole book falling apart but you did a good job with it.

    I wouldn't say it was destructive because you didn't actually destroy the book in anger but rather made a easier to read. :)

  7. thanks RPD! Yes, I had to be very careful not to make damages to the book.

  8. I really don't think most book publishers care if it is easier or harder for a person to read.

    I think the reason book companies do one huge volume is because it would be more expensive to make several covers for each part of what was once one book.

    I hate huge books because they are just physically more difficult to hold the book open especially when you get closer to the middle of the book.

    Let's all go open up a can of Whoop Ass on every book publisher that is too lazy to split up big books into several smaller volumes!

    Who is with me?

  9. @tom, Dui! I am with you!
    For thick books, it's almost impossible to read words in the end of line when reach the middle of the book, without more or less damaging the binding. This book before I split it was over 1500 pages long, for heaven's sake!

  10. Gosh, I almost regret buying Les MIserables in Hardcover now, I can't do this. I like the idea of this, though; I wish I had the skill to slice a book but I'd probably ruin it.