10,000 Ways to Say I Love You by Gregory J.P. Godek

10 years ago, I visited my friends Dollie and Jane in their new Roosevelt Island apartment above a thrift store. The store had books--I picked one up, and it was 10,000 Ways to Say I Love You, by Gregory J.P. Godek. 

The book of love is long and boring...

The book of love is long and boring...

30 seconds into thumbing the pages, my concept of literature was upended.

In Godek’s world, books didn’t have to work linearly. Also, they could be grocery lists pulled from wastepaper baskets of dementia patients. A list of 5 popular love songs from 1931?—that’s a piece of book. Another from 1979?--more book. The procedural breakdown of putting jewelry on a teddy bear and holding it hostage in exchange for indelicate favors--that's a chunk of book. A list of how to give money ("fill her purse with quarters")--Book City!

All lists are made of words, and words make books. Therefore, books can be made of lists.

This goes on for 14 and a half pages. I Wonder what Richard Nixon (born January 9) did to get on Godek's enemies list.

This goes on for 14 and a half pages. I Wonder what Richard Nixon (born January 9) did to get on Godek's enemies list.

Every page was random as jazz. I knew I would never have to read another book again--this one was everything books wanted to be, but couldn't. (Fudge off, Shakespeare.)

#1950 is part of a complete breakfast when served with #368: "Get a local artist to draw caricatures of you on some eggs; put them in the refrigerator; wait for your partner to notice" and #554: "Replace the Cheerios with candy hearts".

#1950 is part of a complete breakfast when served with #368: "Get a local artist to draw caricatures of you on some eggs; put them in the refrigerator; wait for your partner to notice" and #554: "Replace the Cheerios with candy hearts".

It was easily worth 4 times it’s price of 25 cents. I somehow found the money...in Dollie’s change purse, because I didn’t have any. My husband hadn't filled my purse with quarters. 

This 13-page list is called "401 'Namesake' Towns Across America." 13 trees died for this list.

This 13-page list is called "401 'Namesake' Towns Across America." 13 trees died for this list.

The original copy was lost in a move, and replaced with the "10-Year Anniversary" edition. It's baffling that this could still be popular after the internet--or even before. But to the large, peculiar group of readers that Godek has aided in the underpants dance for the last 19 years --Happy Valentine's day, and may God have mercy on your freaky souls.