Several years ago, I began reading books about how to write books. By that I mean books that instruct a reader how to write screenplays, thrillers, plays, even cookbooks and self-help books. These books do the hard work of distilling culture down to a finite set of rules. They have titles like Writing the Romantic Comedy and Outlining Your Novel: Map Your Way to Success. You may have read one or two of them—though, unlike me, you might not admit it.