Issue of September 25, 2011

It is no doubt fully autumn in most parts of the country, and no doubt part of the changes we make, along with digging out warmer clothes and wool blankets, is curling up in a favorite reading spot with a good book. And we’ve got some good ideas for that.

Pete Croatto re-visits the former columnist who made headlines when his views on an international incident made headlines and finds that the man behind the words is still as acerbic as ever but also more complex, sensitive, and human than he was made out to be at the time in The Hard Thing is the Right Thing: An Interview with Paul Shirley.

Two new books from two different publishers, both about “young Jewish girls who live in lands new to them, brought there by difficult circumstances and by religious do-gooders,” and both distressing and compelling, are the focus of Gillian Polack’s interest this week in Two Books.

As Carl Rollyson works with his publisher on the conversion of his latest manuscript into his newest book, he explores in What’s in a Title the reasoning behind his choice of a title, and why that choice was dropped in favor of a new title that better incorporated the enigma, heroism, and humanism of his subject.

Banned Books Week runs until October 1, and this time is not so much a celebration of the power of reading but of the perception some people have of its danger—and of their determination to impose their views on others. Lauren Roberts reminisces about the route this country seems to be on, and how BBW fits into that in Read ‘Em and Weep Learn.



Filed under BiblioBuffet

2 responses to “Issue of September 25, 2011

  1. Craig

    Do you think banned book week is about the occasional “troubled Parent” over reacting to minor things, or, could it be possible that sometime a book may just be wrong?

    I was talking after church today (yeah I go to church) and someone mentioned a problem book to me, which I had to come home and look up the story on.

    It’s about a girl that finds out her mother had an affair and she;s actually a demon. That wasn’t why people were complaining though. The main character and her mentor both judge Christianity really harshly, saying it’s only made up, that god and Jesus are analogous to imaginary friends and show Christians as being directly or indirectly, responsible for most of the bad things in the world.

    The book isn’t even out yet, but people can get copies from the publishing company for review and their going around the Internet.

    The thing it, this book, Keeley Thomson: Demon Girl really takes a hammer to my personal faith and could possibly help lead to a hostile environment latter. Should people be allowed to read that?

    I’m torn, but I think it;s a valid question. To often we just assume that “reading is good” but we don’t take the time to consider all the things we really don’t think should be read by anyone.

    • Hi, Craig, and thank you for writing.

      I doubt Banned Books Week would need to take place on such a large scale if it was just the “occasional troubled parent” reacting. My question to you would be what would make a book “wrong” in your view? Do you think we would agree on a book being wrong? If not, then whose view would prevail? Should mine be discounted because I am not a parent, perhaps?

      I understand your feelings about the book you mentioned “taking a hammer” to your personal faith. It’s disturbing when a book does that, yet I firmly believe that what is important to us–like your faith is to you–can only be stronger or at least more assured if you are willing to look and consider challenges to it. I believe that knowledge works to our ultimate advantage, not ignorance. If we choose to surround ourselves with only things that reinforce what we already believe, do we deprive ourselves of a chance to learn? I think BBW offers us the opportunity to recognize this.

      You do put forth a valid question. But my feelings about “all the things we really don’t think should be read by anyone” are in strong opposition to yours. Should I not have read Mein Kampf? I learned a lot from doing that, but never once was my belief in how awful Hitler’s philosophy was changed or shaken. Rather, I feel I now have a more solid foundation for my beliefs. And that, I think, is why reading things that we don’t necessarily agree with is important. They are opportunities to learn, to expand, to challenge, to grow. I hope I never see a day when BBW dies out because we feel have learned all we need to know.

      Thanks so much for writing and for reading BiblioBuffet.

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