I’ve just handed out some books that I suspect you’ve never read before—though if you have read the book I handed to you, then let me know and we’ll switch it out! Even though you’ve never read this book, however, I suspect you can learn a lot about it and its readers.
To do that, I want you to spend some time studying your book, though I don’t want you to read it (not the main body of the text at least). Instead, pay attention to things like:
- What is the book made of and how is it put together? Can you discern anything about its intended purpose(s) from its materials and construction?
- Who is the audience for this book, and how do you know? What elements of the book teach you about its (expected) readers?
- How does this book fit into larger social, economic, or political structures? How are these structures encoded in the physical object you’re examining?
- Finally, what aspects of the object do you notice that are cool, strange, baffling, or otherwise worth discussing?