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Ken Muldrew

What was it that Tom said while going over the gang's business? "Why if I was as ignorant as you, Sarah Palin, I wouldn't let on".

As to banning books, I'd choose Empire by Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri. Any book where the authors state up front that there is no need to read the pages in any particular order is not a book, it is a mess. So I would ban anyone from calling this a "book".

Now I love books as much as Eco's William of Baskerville, but there is one book that I would willingly condemn to the flames. I can't remember the title or the author and I'm not going to try, but it was some Gaia nonsense written, I think, with the intention of making Lovelock's theory understandable to children. A vile stain on the human achievement.


I've read three of the best-known ones off the first list (Angelou, Twain and Walker). Never heard of half of them and frankly, they don't sound that interesting. I recommend all three, with Twain first and Angelou last.

So you would ban The Corrections, eh? It wasn't actually a badly written book, although it did convince me I would not want to meet its author. By banning it, you would be depriving people of a lot of simple enjoyment, and well-written entertaining works of contemporary fiction are rare enough that I object to your proposal.

With you on Rand. I read both The Fountain and Atlas Shrugged a few weeks ago and Atlast Shrugged was awful. But awful. Not just as a work of literature but on political and moral grounds. Banning that actually makes some sense.

I'd also love to ban some holy books.

(Not really - I don't want books to be banned. But it might not have been such a bad thing if some books hadn't been published. Although, since few people read them anyway, it's a wash.)


Sorry, I meant, of course, The Fountainhead.

Bluegrass Poet

Well, I tried to read The Golden Compass but, like Dylan, I just got bored and returned to Terry Pratchett.

When I was about a sophomore in college, I happened upon As I Lay Dying and was just dazzled, was a Faulkner fan for years and years, until I started to notice how really bad he is with women characters.


If you're going to ban Dianetics because it's used as a quasi-religious text, shouldn't you also ban the Bible, the Qu'ran, Atlas Shrugged, Mein Kampf, and The Communist Manifesto for similar reasons?

Not that I'm advocating that, but doing so would surely have saved the world a whole lot of trouble over the past millenium.


I've learned in dating that the claim that Atlas Shrugged is a favorite book is an infallible indicator that I will detest the actual man in person. Infallible.


Really, it's quite useful that way.

Chris The Cop

Lance! My youngest LOVES The Berenstain Bears!!

I'd ban anything by Mickey Spillane that was meant to be taken seriously.

velvet goldmine

Fellow traumatized Berenstein Bears reader here(in or out of verse). My suspisions that Stan and Jan were actively trying to drive parents around the bend were confirmed right around a BB anti-greed screed that had the cubs howling "We want the bucking frog! We want the bucking frog!" Spoonerisms ensued, evey bucking time.


I despise The Berenstain Bears, truly. Didactic crap that bores even my kids, and they aren't a hard sell. And Rand is unreadable--how DO people manage it? do they just not care about prose?

I am too much of a First Amendment freak to seriously contemplate banning books even as a fun mental exercise, but I can name one book my kids won't encounter via me: Peter Pan. Boys who won't grow up and a little girl who finds her fun staying behind and cooking and mending shadows. Oh, there's another girl who's a jealous troublemaker and another who gets captured as a plot device. To say it fails to charm me is an understatement.


Thanks! I'll add this post to my roundup list for Banned Books Week.

I loved some of the Berenstein Bears books as a kid, particularly the longer books that explained the seasons, science, etc. They went well with some similar Richard Scarry books.

I read Fahrenheit 451 this year (Huck Finn maybe next year) for Banned Books Week, and it raises a complimentary question - which book(s) would you most want to memorize to safeguard?

I think you're right about the loyalty test thing about Palin and librarian Mary Ellen Emmons, but yes, I'd say Palin was testing the waters on banning but decided it was not feasible. Palin's church was trying to ban specific books dealing with drug use and sexuality, and in at least one account, Palin named specific books to Emmons. I have much more on that here and here, if you really want to dig into it.


Batocchio, I'm digging right now. Thanks for the links.

Link, I'm not banning Dianetics because it's used as a quasi-religious text. I'm banning it to save Tom Cruise from the beating he so richly deserves and is going to get someday if he doesn't find something else to talk about. I'm banning Atlas Shrugged because it's used as a quasi-religious text. Where would we be today if Alan Greenspan had just read Kerouac when he was young like other guys of his generation?

Chris, the Berenstain Bears were very popular around the Mannion house for a long time too, which is why I can still feel a headache coming on whenever I think about reading one of those books. There are plenty of old favorites the guys have outgrown and left behind I still miss, Thomas the Tank Engine, Busytown, Bear and Little Bird, Amelia Bedelia, Nate the Great, the Very Hungry Caterpillar, but I held a private party when I realized BB's weren't getting checked out of the library anymore.

VG, I remember the bucking "bucking frog" and I also remember objecting to Mama Bear's solution to the problem, although I can't remember what her solution was. Campaspe, that's the word I was looking for, "didactic," but the really annoying thing about those books' didacticism is that the lessons were so often wrong.


Like some other commenters, I have trouble with the premise ['what books would you ban?'], although I know LM is being ironic. Reminds me of the old Woody Allen line: Yes, it's true, I'm a bigot, but fortunately I'm a bigot for the left.

I thought about this for a while and toyed with the idea of public shaming of people who want to buy/borrow, e.g., 'Atlas Shrugged,' a thorough mocking for their reading choices, after which the person gets to read the book. But that still offended my first amendment sensibilities [too much like publishing library check-out records].

So I propose that the books we're nominating be made available, but that the librarian or bookstore clerk be allowed to fish-slap the patron before they are allowed to go on their way with the book. You still get to read the book if you want, but you're given one last invitation [via a flounder in the kisser] to rethink some of your choices in life.

For the greater good, I originally proposed a couple of books be added to the Fish-Slap List, but on reflection, I think that was more about my personal battles with them, so I deleted that part of this message.


Bill Altreuter

Right with you on "The Corrections"-- a nasty piece of work.

A modest dissent on the Berenstain Bears, however. While I agree as a general proposition, the first book my eldest daughter puzzled out for herself was a thing called "Bears on Wheels"-- now out of print. While not technically one of the moralizing Berenstain Bears tales, it appeared under that imprint. Otherwise yes.

Some years back an international bar organization that I was active in at the time had its annual meeting in DC. The Germans were very impressed that libraries and bookstores had "Mein Kampf", a book that they'd heard about but never actually seen. To my way of thinking banning it just makes it more alluring.



Bears on Wheels is in verse, isn't it? So it's not banned. The verse ones can be pretty funny, although when he was in kindergarten our 15 year old loved the one in which Papa Bear led the Bear Scouts on a hike and ended up hurting himself in about 60 different ways---never failed to crack the kid up and I've always wondered about how much of me he saw in Papa Bear.

Juno: I've learned in dating that the claim that Atlas Shrugged is a favorite book is an infallible indicator that I will detest the actual man in person. Infallible.

Juno, if it does that great a service I hereby remove it from my banned list.


I'm something of a First Amendment absolutist, but...the Left Behind books could be banned, and it wouldn't cause me much grief. Especially Left Behind: The Kids, several volumes of which I saw in a secondhand shop recently.

And Orson Scott Card writes well, but his worldview is seriously evil. Not just his hatred of gay people (and of women, though he doesn't make that as explicit), but general misanthropy. Except that's far too mild a word, implying (at least as I use it) a certain degree of entertaining curmudgeonliness. I'm talking about the way all his books that I've read (and that was quite a few before I stopped, because he did tell stories well) described characters being stalked or abused or tortured, and the viewpoint character's tone was invariably one of near-pornographic delight. Ick.

(Oh, and Juno is absolutely right about the discriminatory power of Ayn Rand's books, too.)


Speaking of Ayn Rand reminds me of Ryan Adams. He was unbelievably wasted at a concert of his I saw three or four years ago, and his delirium led him to fill increasingly lengthy segues between songs with rants about Ayn Rand. Most of it was about what selfish bullshit Rand justified. It was quite perceptive for someone who was having tremendous difficulty completing songs he had spent years playing. Adams was in some ways predicting the current financial crisis in that Ayn Rand's worldview transfixed Alan Greenspan as a young ideologue.

But banning it, as jkr and juno have suggested, could eliminate early signs of warning and recognition. Personally, the repeated appearance of combination of Ayn Rand books with Bibles and other scripture on otherwise barren shelves of many of my co-confessors spooked me toward an eventually liberating crisis of faith. Thousands of people were enfolding Rand's gospel of selfishness into the beatitudes, and somehow, private homosexual partnerships constituted a bigger threat to this version of Christianity. I wonder whether I needed the Rand signifier as an epiphany for me to have disengaged as soon as I did. It is possible I would have remained for much longer feeling some kind of uneasiness but never quite figuring out why.

Ah hell! Ban it anyway. And take a few Kaplans with it.


Postscript: So I take my kids to a birthday party Sunday, and am looking around for my daughter. Where was she? on the couch with a father who was reading, with great vigor and dramatic panache, to a rapt group of four kids. The book was, of course, Peter Pan.

Sigh. The guy really did read very well, though. Had a great voice for Hook.

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