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18 November 2009 @ 05:43 pm
Writer's Block: Book review  
What (if any) books would you ban from a high school library? Are there certain subjects that you feel are inappropriate for teenagers regardless of literary merit?

I'd think twice before including, say, The Kama Sutra.

Please read the question before objecting on principle: it specifies high school library.

On the flip side, I'm interpreting "ban" loosely, in the sense of "if I had a job purchasing books for a high school library*, I would probably not choose to purchase this item for the shelves."

Oh, I also might question the wisdom of including the private collection of Rupert Giles on the shelves of a high school library. You know, the "don't speak Latin in front of the books" books.

*This would, in fact, be a job I would love.
A random lazy cat: Stormtrooperstwentythoughts on November 19th, 2009 01:51 am (UTC)
The only one I'd ban would be this one. Dangerous reading.
Hafochafoc on November 19th, 2009 02:15 am (UTC)
I'm tempted to say "All of them except mine," but I'd never do that. I like too many books too well myself.

I'd skip anything that I thought was pure pornography, not because I'm against porn but because so many people in this town ARE against it, and because the innocent little kiddies are already getting all the porn they want in other ways anyway. (We got porn ourselves, after all, and we didn't have the benefit of the Internet.) Sometimes people need to be offended, for good purpose, but being offensive just for the sake of being offensive is mere childishness and discourtesy. That's something the modern art and literature establishment would do better to keep in mind.

I think maybe a more interesting question would be "What books would you insist be in your high school library?" I can spot half a dozen, maybe a dozen, from here. The Sherlock Holmes stories. Civil War histories by Bruce Catton and Shelby Foote. Holliday's "The World Rushed In." Walter Lord's A Night to Remember, Day of Infamy, and Incredible Victory. A whole slew of novels, classic and modern. And, of course, all those 1950s juvenile SF novels by Robert Heinlein. GOT to corrupt a new generation. Yes, Admiral Heinlein. Right away, Admiral, center of the best shelf, right here.
Garrettgarote on November 19th, 2009 02:20 am (UTC)
Definitely. Toss in the Asimov stuff too, and the shorter Arthur C Clarke works.
Hafochafoc on November 19th, 2009 02:29 am (UTC)
And Ray Bradbury. A lot of his stuff tended toward the Literary Psychodrama in SF Clothing, but it's still good. I might or might not include Jules Verne-- great stuff, but the standard English translation is really stupid. Maybe if somebody did a better translation I could include Verne with enthusiasm.

(Example of standard English translations' stupidity? In 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, the harpoonist Ned Land starts a fire, on a deserted island the main characters visit, using a lentil he carried in his pocket. Lentil? He started a fire with a BEAN? Wait a minute.. lentil. Lenticular. Lens-like. Lens! He started a fire with a LENS! Sheesh.)
Your Obedient Serpentathelind on November 19th, 2009 05:25 am (UTC)
There are better translations out there nowadays. I think I've shown you my copy of the first volume of The Annotated Jules Verne -- which is, in fact, 20,000 Leagues -- and the translator/annotator starts with the standard, 19th-century translation, but adds corrections, makes footnotes about the original mistranslated passages, and restores entire chapters that were excised.

He also has an extensive forward and afterward, castigating the original English translator in great and scathing detail.

Since then, more and more new translations of Verne have come out -- hopefully, more scientifically literate ones.
Hafochafoc on November 19th, 2009 02:22 am (UTC)
And Tephie shouts, across the room, "Dianetics!" You know, that book by Moe Ron Hubbard.
Christopher Bradleycpxbrex on November 19th, 2009 04:42 am (UTC)
The Kama Sutra is boring to modern high school audiences. The sexual positions stuff is not nearly as crazy as the stuff they can get surfing the Net, and most of the rest is dated crazy stuff about Indian marriages and prostitutes which is interesting in only a historical perspective. ;)
Araquan Skytraceraraquan on November 19th, 2009 05:12 am (UTC)
I did read it carefully- and answered it accordingly.