Ask General Kang: Apparently, only one in four people read a book last year — how can we improve that figure?

Ask General KangI’d start by disabling the publishing industry in some way — perhaps an elite cadre of pulp-loving squirrels armed with plasma-shredders and capable of firing book worms out of their mouths? Or perhaps you could change the tax laws so that drinks, food and visits to literary conferences can no longer be deducted.

Then I’d start a massive PR campaign that showed (with whatever scientific research we can drum up — we’ll need to set up a think tank to provide some too) how reading books was actually harmful to your health. We should also start some kind of fake grassroots organization that can politicize the issue for us, appealing to our need to “save the children.”

Then, I’d –

No, no, I want more people to read books

Why would you want that? It makes the population much easier to control if they’re illiterate, you know.

I don’t want the population to be easier to control!

What are you, some kind of anarchist?

Okay. So a campaign to get more people to read. Hmmm. What if you tied lotteries to book reading? Instead of picking numbers at random, you would only pick winning numbers from a pool of those who purchased tickets and correctly answered the skill-testing question, based on the book they have claimed to have read?

Either that or have some kind of compulsory reading comprehension test every year: they get three chances to answer the questions right, and if they don’t, you implant some kind of mind-control device (the X-trablian Zombie Beetle is an excellent choice) that prevents them from using the TV, Internet and radio.

Or you could force them to spend their days, reading through the slush piles of romance publishers.

Next time: I seem to be molting, and I’m not a bird — so what’s the best way of recycling skin?

Alltop can’t read while watching TV. Originally appeared in May, 2009.

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