How to Read

Reading is, as we have all heard, fundamental. But the statistics are alarming: more than 100 Americans are illiterate, including virtually everyone under the age of two. People who are unable to read are doomed to lives of poverty and desperation, which they attempt to relieve by going through the goddamn express lane with more than 15 fucking items. Don’t let this woman at the Safeway on Greenway Avenue be you.

It’s not that hard to learn to read. Actor Levar Burton, who was captured and sold into slavery as a teenager, went on to have a brilliant career as a starship engineer and taught a generation of children how to read, despite being totally blind! If he could teach, you can learn. Here’s a simple method to teach yourself how to read.


  1. Find some suitable reading material. You might want to start with something simple, like the dictionary or a user’s manual for a Hamilton Beach Model 22604 Cool Touch 2-Slice Toaster.
  2. Place the reading material at a comfortable distance from your eyes. To gauge whether your reading material is in the best position, obtain a housecat and place it nearby. If it sits on the reading material, the positioning is perfect.
  3. Move the cat. This will be exceedingly difficult.
  4. Begin slowly. Let your eyes move across the surface of the paper from left to right (or from top to bottom if you are Chinese, or from south-by-west to north-by-east if you are a Phoenician sailor). No, wait, don’t actually put your eye on the — oh, never mind. Go and get a Band-Aid.
  5. Take it in. As you view the markings on the page in front of you, open your mind and let their meaning flow into you. That one looks like a little hat — maybe this is a story about a gnome who wears funny hats! Letters in most alphabets began as pictographic symbols, so let’s just assume that’s a gnome in a hat.
  6. Sound what you see out with your mouth. Make the shapes of each of the letters with your lips. Be sure to stick your tongue out for “Q.”
  7. Follow the story. That gnome in the little hat sure kills a lot of people.
  8. About 25 pages in, check to see if the movie version is on Netflix. This is what literally everyone does.


  • Be careful! Not everything made of paper is readable! Many new readers fall into the trap of trying to read a roll of toilet paper or a John Grisham book, and find themselves worse off than when they started.
  • Eventually, you’ll get the hang of reading. Before you know it you’ll be… Hey. Hey! Wait a minute! If you’ve got this far, then you can *already* read! What kind of scam are you pulling here, bub?
  • If you are blind like Levar Burton, you can learn to read using your hands. Start by growing eyes on your hands.