Have you ever actually tried to burn a book? It isn’t an easy thing to do. They don’t light up into a ball of fire the instant you put a torch to them. It takes a bit to get them going, and even then you’re best off ripping out pages and setting them alight in smaller chunks. Book burning is a rather cumbersome process, with a lot of time and effort required.
“Give the Nazis some credit.” – Gus Harrington.
I know this because recently I took a camping trip with my wife, became separated, and have been fending for myself for the past three days. I am not a nature person, you see. I was planning on using this trip to get away from the bustling city and have some time to read, but my wife kept insisting that I talk to her instead. This led to us arguing, which led to me storming off into the woods, falling down a ravine, getting swept away by a river, and finally deposited here in this semi-frosted wasteland that is the middle of the Appalachians.
All I have with me is a backpack containing four granola bars, a bottle of water, two condoms (that it looks like I won’t be needing), and the assorted collection of books that I’ve been steadily working my way through.
I read multiple books at a time because I am an intellectual, you see. Also, I think that Kindles are an affront to the very nature of reading, so I insist upon carrying full hardback copies with me at all times.
You know what else has a touch feature? Actual pages!
And lucky thing too! Because along with my wife’s apparent indifference to my whereabouts and my complete inability to forage for useful supplies, these books are the only things keeping me from freezing to death.
Should you ever find yourself left for dead in the harsh conditions of a snowy mountain preserve, you can use this list to help you stave off frostbite just a little bit longer.
1. Into the Wild
Normally, of course, I would never even consider burning a book. But when it’s a matter of life and death you have to do whatever you can, lest you wind up like the subject of Into the Wild. Like me, Christopher McCandless journeyed out into the wilderness with limited survival experience and supplies. The only difference between us is that I do not plan on dying a cold and lonely death, so into the fire goes Into the Wild.
While certainly not enough to completely dry out your wet clothes, this book is a good start to the process of battling the likely inevitable hypothermia seeping into your bones.
2. Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, Collector’s Edition
Counter-intuitively, this novel about the depths of the ocean took to flame the quickest of any of the books I tried. Whatever they lacquer the thing with to get those gold leafed pages seems to be extremely flammable. Keep this in mind if ever you’re caught inside of a burning Barnes & Noble: stay away from the gift classics section, it will immediately become an inferno.
The only reason this title gets docked a point is because it burns so hot and quick you really can’t expect to get much longevity out of it. Not the best bang for your buck when you’re trying to survive in the unforgiving wilderness.
3. Infinite Jest
David Foster Wallace
At over 1,000 pages, this one burned for a long time, long time. I had to tear it into tiny chunks just to make it more manageable; there was now way I could get through it in one go. Eventually, the fire did consume the whole tome, which is neat because now it has something to shriek incessantly about in coffee shops and r/books.
4. The Bible
For some reason, my copy of the King James Bible had a terrible time catching fire. I don’t know why, exactly. The pages are so thin, you’d think they would have gone up the second I threw them onto the bonfire. But no such luck. For whatever reason, the pages of The Bible seem to be completely impervious to flame. It just sat there, fire ringing it about an inch away on all sides like some kind of spiritual buffer zone.
Well fine! If I die out here, then I think we all know whose fault it will be.
5. The Five Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts
Gary D. Chapman
Huh. I don’t really know what this one is. My wife must have thrown this in here to try to get me to “actively think about improving our marriage” or something.
I flipped through it briefly while I waited for the Bible to start burning, but there was nothing about this book that seemed relevant to me. You know what my “love language” is? Not freezing to death in the wilderness! And look how well that’s working out, Tabitha!
The book burns nice though, so my wife will probably appreciate that I made use of it in one way or another. If she’s still alive out there, that is.