Reading has been a bit sketchy lately for me. For the first time in a very long time, I abandoned three books in a row only 30 pages in. The books seemed somehow less than professional, like when you go into a restaurant and it smells weird and no one talks to you and you know you’re not in good hands.

The book that got me out of this was…The Revenant? I am not sure how this is even possible. The movie in no way appealed to me, it belongs to that genre I like to call “sweaty men movies”—not a favorite of mine—and I thought also that it was too scary. Yes, I am a fearful person.

But reading is a whole other ballgame, allowing me to dabble in truly terrifying things because I can stop when I need to. And so I started to read, and Lo and Behold, I found I was in good hands. Such good hands! There were people! A sense of place! And best of all, there were tools. Here’s another made up genre for you: tool books! From Little House in the Big Woods to Hatchet, there is something so incredibly satisfying about learning about other people’s tools and the clever ways they use them. The rifle in The Revenant was so lovingly described I wanted to hold it—I, who am not a gun person—and there were also profoundly compelling sharp-edged stones used to dig, and funnel traps to capture mice. It’s hard to know just looking at a book whether it will scratch this particular itch, but when you find one, oh! They are so good! Like The Golden Compass and the alethiometer! So many good tools!

Here’s where if we were back in the 2000s, I would ask you all to leave your favorite literary tools (or tool books?) in the comments, but blogging doesn’t work so much like that these days. But if you do think of one, consider saying so! I feel we could all benefit.

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