Post by Jenny
In honor of Banned Books Week, I have a confession: I ban books. Sometimes I do it regretfully, sometimes I do it with great relish. Here are ten reasons why:
10. Brain Ache – This occurs when a story is so convoluted, I need Stephen Hawking to get me through the first two chapters;
9. Ridiculous Character Names – I’m sorry, but I can’t read 300 pages about the adventures of Duffy von Winklesnout;
8. No Story – If a story arc is flatline, my interest is, too;
7. Adverb Abuse – When the characters smile happily, glare menacingly, skip gleefully, ogle lustfully, I put the book down. Hastily. (Harry Potter being a worthy exception);
6. Deus ex machina (“god out of the machine”) – No plot should need the equivalent of divine intervention to reach resolution, unless it’s in a book about…well, divine intervention;
5. Weird Formatting – This includes lack of punctuation, phonetic spelling, anything that makes me overly conscious of the act of reading. Lauren Myracle’s text-messaging format (TTYL, etc.) is a stroke of genius for her YA audience. For me, it’s just a stroke (I tried, though. I really did);
4. Overpopulation – I’m from a small family. I’ve never taught a freshman-level course or directed a Broadway production. Too many characters overwhelm me;
3. Apathy – If I don’t care about the plot or characters by page 100 (max), I’m out;
2. Envy – When a mediocre book makes it big (huge! colossal!), I know that reading it will make me yank on my hair and eat too many carbs. (This ban is often trumped by curiosity, but not always.); and
1. No Payoff - Frank Conroy said: "The author makes a tacit deal with the reader. You hand them a backpack. You ask them to place certain things in it - to remember, to keep in mind - as they make their way up the hill. If you hand them a yellow Volkswagen and they have to haul this to the top of the mountain - to the end of the story - and they find that this Volkswagen has nothing whatsoever to do with your story, you're going to have a very irritated reader on your hands." Hear, hear.
My point is—yes, I do have a point, and thank you for asking—I have the freedom to ban any book from my personal library for whatever reason I choose. But I would never presume to do the same for someone else.
And how about my kids? Are there books I don’t want them reading now…in five years…ever? You bet your bookmarks. I can’t look over their shoulders every time they choose a book, however, so my husband and I are helping them develop the skills to make their own decisions—and a respect for the Constitution, which gives them that right.
What banned books are you reading this week?