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Books with power... how would you interpolate?

Last night I dreamt I was in a fantasy world where books had powers, and so they were glued onto the ends of various implements to leverage that.
I saw a hoe with no head but rather a book that ensured easier and better tilling, maybe even "blessing" the ground for better crop yield.
My instinctual reaction was "this means all farmers must be literate."
But this was a weird concern because I knew I was in the modern world; I had just been in some nameless amalgam of a Target and a Walmart. I later went to a dump that doubled as a food bank. Building was steel and glass and laid out like a department store. I even saw a saxophone busker playing with a digital backing track as my alarm woke me, so clearly this implied a tech level at which
I had two brothers(! [didn't know dreams could invent family members]) and they were studying for some trade. This involved these powerful books, but I wasn't sure to what end they were being used. Come to think of it, I wasn't sure how to use the books. I didn't know if they had to be read, and perhaps they bestowed the ability, or read and the act of reading did the deed of the tool, or if they literally could just be applied in the shoehorn manner that their placement implied (i.e. hoeing with a book instead of a hoe head, digging its binding into the dirt).

Question: If you were writing the dreamworld, how would you say the books be used?
 
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