Skip to content

How to Use a Textbook


Every year, we students fork over our summer income and accumulate a dozen new textbooks. Considering the extravagance and the weighty anxiety that sets in when the credit card bill arrives, we might as well get some use out of our very heavy, very expensive textbooks. Here are some suggestions:

  • Squish bugs. A thick hardcover is best, I recommend Constitutional Law. Toss a few tissues down first. If it was a spider, jump on it a few times too because if it’s not totally dead, it will come after you and lay eggs in your bellybutton and you will wake up in the middle of the night covered in baby spiders. True story.

  • Impress people on the bus. Be the cool guy in the back corner, face half hidden in Legal Ethics, third edition. It’s a conversation-starter.

  • Fend off people on the bus. Be aware of your surroundings, people. Don’t let the creeper with a moustache corner you.

  • Sell it to a 1L. “This book was invaluable to me—I definitely opened it.” “You can learn the whole course by reading the introduction.” “I’m sure this is just like the new edition.”

  • Cite it for a paper when you left the research too late and have nothing else. This is particularly good for paper proposals, when you picked a topic fourteen hours before it was due.

  • Sign the inner cover and give it as a Christmas gift. Excellent gift for Mom, someone you don’t like, or anyone who calls themselves ‘pre-law.’

  • Quote it. Next time you’re in a debate with someone, point to a textbook and say it supports your argument. It’ll make you sound smart, and people will assume you’ve read the book.

  • Make a game out of it—if you had all the money you spent on those textbooks, what would you buy? How many trips could you have taken?

  • Intimidate people. Stand in front of your bookshelves and use your best lawyer voice. Slam your fists down on the desk. Hurtle Tort Law across the room.

  • Read it. I mean, if your Netflix is down.