Check it out: 'How to Sharpen Pencils' anything but a dull read
Sunday, July 22, 2012
“How to Sharpen Pencils”
By David Rees; Melville House, 218 pages
How often do you consider the pencil? Barely registers on your scale of mildly interesting objects, you say? For shame! You and I know that without the pencil, it would be difficult to come to the point, sharpen one's wit, get the lead out. OK, erase that last thought. Turning a pencil into a pun-cil doesn't show the respect that this week's treatise deserves.
It would be easy to dismiss David Rees' book as mere pencil shavings. Sure, it's shelved in the humor section of the library. Yes, chapter 18 is entitled "How to Sharpen a Pencil with Your Mind." And, OK, there's a separate appendix for "wines that taste like pencils." HOWEVER, nothing else even comes close to devoting as much time on, and expressing as much passion for, the unheralded craft of pencil sharpening.
Lest you think I'm kidding about all of this (an April Fool's joke three months late, perhaps?), I dare you to read this pencil-pushing publication and not come away smarter and sharper about our lead-filled friends. Oh, wait, here's something you'll learn if you're brave enough to seek out this book: pencil lead isn't lead at all but a combination of graphite, wax and clay. See, you're brilliant already.
The crux of this book is that genuine pencils, i.e. not the soulless wannabes known as mechanical pencils, can be transformed from mere sticks of wood into pointed tools of glory simply by following David Rees' detailed instructions. Remember the old saying, "If a thing is worth doing, it's worth doing well?" That's right, stop ignoring that collection of unsharpened pencils languishing in your desk. By showing your #2s a little TLC, they'll feel like #1 in no time.
Jan Johnston is the Collection Development Coordinator for the Fort Vancouver Regional Library District. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.