Mark Billingham’s 20-page rule (How much time should you give a devastatingly boring book?, 12 October) makes an interesting contrast with Marshall McLuhan’s theory as to how to choose a book: first, read page 69. If you like it, then chances are you’ll like the rest of it too. This was also suggested in John Sutherland’s How to Read a Novel: A User’s Guide (2006). Clear evidence that our attention spans are getting shorter.
• John Bird writes of homelessness: “Imagine what kind of world we would live in if prevention came first” (Letters, 17 October). The answer: a kinder world.
Cuckfield, West Sussex
• When we sat at our desks for biology O-level in 1964, a carrot was placed on top of each exam paper (Letters, 18 October). A classmate munched hers while waiting for the exam to start. We turned our papers over to find the first question: “Dissect this carrot and explain its structure.”
• I’m sorry, Yotam, but someone has to break it to you. After 29 ingredients and three hours’ preparation and cooking, your Durban bunny chow (Melktart and bunny chow: Yotam Ottolenghi’s South African recipes, 16 October) is still only a kind of sandwich, albeit a very tasty one.
Brighton, East Sussex
• Re the article on female “incels” (‘I feel hurt that my life has ended up here’: the women who are involuntary celibates, 18 October), the numbers must have considerably increased since the closure of Guardian Soulmates! It was the one dating site that could be trusted. Time to bring it back?
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