Wednesday Witterings – Book Banning

Since last week was Banned Books Week there have been a lot of posts around the blogosphere on the subject, so I thought I’d throw in my Tuppence-worth…

 

Tuppence - she's worth a lot! Laser eyes don't come cheap...
Tuppence – she’s worth a lot! Laser eyes don’t come cheap…

 

I think the real problem with book banning is determining who gets to decide which books to ban and which criteria should be used. So, always willing to help, I reckon it would be best if I make all the decisions in future and save everyone else the trouble. (No, please – don’t thank me! It’s a tough job, but I’ll be happy to do it…)

* * * * * * * * *

 

I’ve given it a great deal of thought (at least 13½ minutes worth) and here are the initial criteria I’ll be using. Books that fall into any of the following categories will be banned and the authors will be denied all access to chocolate for a term to be set…by me.

* * * * * * * * *

 

1) All books with a first-person present-tense narration.

2) All books with ‘Fifty Shades’ in the title.

 

 

3) All literary fiction, no matter how beautifully written, where the author has forgotten to include a plot.

4) All crime novels with a drunken and/or angst-ridden maverick detective.

5) All books about baseball.

 

calico joe

 

6) All books that are described as “the next Gone Girl”.

7) Magical realism.

8) All ‘continuation novels’ – no more Poirots, Austens, Holmeses (though obviously I will have to read them all first to be sure they really are bad).

 

 

9) All books that are longer than 400 pages (except Dickens).

AND

 

the goldfinch

 

10) Ms Tartt will never know the delightful taste of chocolate again.

* * * * * * * * *

 

Please let me know if there are any other criteria you would like me to consider. Or, in the exceedingly unlikely event that you wish to save a book destined for oblivion, make your case below… but hurry!

bonfire

87 thoughts on “Wednesday Witterings – Book Banning

  1. I laughed at this post and agree with almost everything on it, with the exception of #7. Magical realism can be very effective and…ahem…magical. Sure, it’s a bit weird at times but I enjoy the odd dash of magical realism here and there, mostly in novels by Latin American authors.

  2. Hahaha. Loved this! WHY do authors insist on writing books over 400 pages?! It infuriates me!! Also, I initially took issue with #7, but, upon further reflection, I realized that, when done poorly, there’s really nothing worse than magical realism. So…will you just make an exception for One Years of Solitude???

    • I know – nearly every book seems to be brick-sized these days – makes my poor heart sink! Hmm…well, I haven’t read ‘One Year of Solitude’, so based on your appeal for mercy, I’ll make an exception. But just for this one – the rest of the genre is gone! 😀

  3. They should definitely put you in charge of this task as I think you could carry it off with aplomb. Although I write in first person present tense, I reason it is probably alright for a blog (although I shall soon be abandoning this style as it is impossible to create anything other than the most basic of plot and storyline!) The Fifty Shades thing shouldn’t just be banned, the writers should be shot. So irritating now. I will shortly be starting The Monogram Murders, I am just finishing up another book. I will let you know how I get on with it but I am feeling inclined to agree with you on the ‘continuation’ novels in general.

    Can we ban Richard Dawkins from writing any more books? His point of view is neither here nor there to me, as such, but he is so flipping smug and preachy and I think we’ve heard quite enough from him, thank you very much.

    • Haha! I did actually think about your blog when I put that one in, and hoped you might miss it! But really I agree it works on the blog because it’s in a serial format. A 600-page novel set in the middle of the eighteenth century though – that’s a different matter entirely! Shooting sounds good – when I searched for pics I couldn’t believe how many books have Fifty Shades in the title! And even all the covers are the same colour… so original! Good luck with Poirot – I’m eagerly anticipating your comments… 😉

      Oooh, yes – Dawkins! Great idea! In fact, maybe we should extend it to cover all grumpy, opinionated, middle-aged men…

      • I’m super pleased you thought about my blog when you wrote that! And for the next ‘series’ I am going to experiment with a more classic prose style. Let me know what you think.

        Really looking forward to the Poirot – just got to finish Naming Jack The Ripper, first. Which, if I may say, is brilliantly researched and with a wonderful attention to detail but when the author strays into more ‘creative’ writing it’s a bit like an English GCSE paper (just my tuppence worth!)

        Pah to grumpy, opinionated middle-aged men… who write books. I have no problem with the ones who don’t write stuff down haha 🙂

        • I’ll look forward to that! 🙂 (Seriously, I only object to FPPT when it’s either a) inappropriate – ie, obviously about something that happened in the past – I once read a book that was written retrospectively over a period of a decade and it was all written in the present tense. Uh? Or b) when the writer’s not good at it – and so many of them aren’t.)

          Oh, I’ve seen that book and wondered if it’d be good – let me know if you think he makes his case?

          Haha! Yes, only the books. I wasn’t planning on throwing the men on the fire… *checks cupboard for barbecue sauce just in case*

          • I am about half way through the Jack The Ripper book – his ‘big reveal’ wasn’t what I was expecting (no bad thing) but it is the most tenuous link imaginable. And relies on an unbelieveable amount of serendipity on the killer’s part. He has also already named his prime suspect. I haven’t got to the modern forensic tests yet, which I hope will make his case a bit more likely. I have a few thoughts already but I will wait until I’ve finished the book and let you know.

            Haha! Richard Dawkins and barbecue sauce. Nice! 😀

            • It’s one of these stories where I’m not even sure I want to know the truth – the legends might be much more interesting. But I did see one review disputing his evidence – however it was a bit of a ranty review (not that I’m criticising! 😉 ) so I wasn’t sure whether to pay it any attention. I’ll wait and hear what you think…

            • I will certainly let you know what I make of it, right now he seems to have an unusual slant on evidence gathering (I worked in the Police for seven years so I do have a grasp of forensics and the like) but I am hoping it is just a ruse to fool the reader so he can look super amazing by the end of the book. I’ll keep you posted!

  4. FictionFan – Oh, this is wonderful ! So witty and so spot-on!! I especially love #3, #4, and #6. I say we put you in charge of publication decisions. I’ll be sending you my manuscripts straight away. There is nothing ‘Gone Girl,’ ‘angst-ridden’ or (I hope) ‘plot free’ about them. 😉 – just joking of course. In all seriousness, I almost never read a novel that needs to be more than 400 pages.

  5. What fun! Tuppence obviously had a paw in all of this. What a pity that she can’t have her share of chocolate. I find your list quite satisfactory, and I raise you religious books that try to convert you into whatever they are selling.

  6. Such a perfect list – all points so relevant ( well a little magical/paranormal is fine by me if woven in creatively eg John Connolly). Lately seeing most books I pick up claiming to be the next Gone Girl or “if You Liked Gone Girl…” I am over that lazy description. And books over 400 pages take such a toll on my time – though there are exceptions where the narrative flows along, not just there to increase the page count – I just finished over 500 pages of The Unforgiven – Sean Slater – wonderful authentic police procedural written by a cop (you couldn’t get any more authentic), that didn’t seem like 500+ and almost finished You – Caroline Kepnes (+400) – again if I wasn’t so busy I wouldn’t be so concerned with theses particular page counts though my preference is for about 320 – 380 pages, that is a one night read = perfect!

    I think you should also ban any book with a cover of a woman in some bustier type gown languishing on/over/in the arms of some steroid enhanced male.

    • Haha! Thanks! Yes, some long books are OK, but so many are just over-padded and the problem is you don’t really know which it’s going to be until you’re well into it – grrr! 380 pages in a night! That’s at least twice what I normally read that’d have to be one of those ones I stay up all night for, and they only happen a couple of times a year or so.

      😆 D’you know, I was going to include covers with men with no shirts – but I just couldn’t bring myself to plaster the pictures all over my blog! Scare people away… 😉

  7. Hang on did I write this? Thanks for making me realise that my curmudgeonly gripes as a bookseller and a reader are not a lone voice in the wilderness. I detest magically realised Tarrt’s wearing Fifty Shades of Grey attracting the attentions of drug addled detectives with anger issues too! 😉

    • Thanks! 😀 Good heavens! How could I possibly have forgotten vampires??? Definitely banned, but no fire for them – they’ll need stakes!

      Haha! I’m afraid they are indeed real! And there’s zillions more…

  8. Love this, except for the “over 400” rule – or is this just per volume? As a devotee of “the Lord of the RIngs” I have to claim an exemption for GOOD books over 400 pages. You might wish to be reminded that we are meeting soon, and banning my favourite book (books?) might be injurious to your health! 🙂

  9. *laughs* Loved this! Goodness, I didn’t know that many books were called 50 Shades. That’s a wonder. But you must admit: Fifty Shades of Chicken is an interest.

    Can Tuppence shoot from those? Yikes.

    Okay, I’ve got a few I’d like you to ban, please. First up, all the Austen stuff. Then all the HP. The whole Divergent things, and The Hunger Games. *smiles proudly* That’s the ticket. But L. Snicket is quite fine, I think.

    • *laughs* Yes I loved the chicken one too… in fact, I’m seriously tempted…

      Frightening, isn’t she? She looked so sweet when I got her too…

      Oh, no, no, no, NO, sir!!! Not Austen – NO!!! But…I’ll do you a deal on the HPs. They can go if Huckleberry Finn goes too. And I’ll throw in Divergent and THG for free…

  10. Thanks for this excellent post although I don’t share your dislike for the first person present tense I am in agreement with the rest of your points! I did however smile at your qualification of point 8. Ghost written books should also go onto the list.

    • Well, if any of the FPPTs slip past the control process, they will be redirected straight to you! 😉

      Yes, I was quite happy about no. 8 till I realised it meant I’d never get to rip… oh, I mean, READ … Alexander Mccall Smith’s ‘Emma’. *sharpens red pencil*

      Ooh, yes!! And both ghost and ‘writer’ banned choccies for a decade!!

  11. You are just SO NAUGHTY. I have given Angela Carter, Gabriel Garcia Marquez and other brilliant magical realism writers nearly all my chocolate, except that HALF OF MY CHOCOLATE SUPPLY belongs (as you knew it would), to the Divine Donna Goldfinch. A legion of Goldfinch admirers are even now marching grimly North Of The Border (we are all dressed in giant Goldfinch costumes so we can be seen coming) and our destination is YOUR CHOCOLATE STASH!

    And because the Goldfinch Army are people sized there is no chance of Tuppence savagely ripping our heads off

    PS have you noticed the new tendency to slyly write house bricked sized books which are DISGUISED – clearly because someone spotted your wicked book banning agenda – this is to make the book size itself oversized – thus reducing the page count. Either than, or to shrink the font size. I seem to have acquired a number of books coming in at just under 400 pages but they don’t fit on a bookshelf of around 8-9 inches height. Oh for the days when everything was the standard Penguin classic height and fitted neatly on shelves!

    You can certainly bin the Gone Girls and the After I fell Asleeps though No chocolate for THEM

    I hope you are duly terrified listening to the thunder of the approaching Goldfinch Army………..

    • HahahaHA!! I really thought loads of people would jump to Ms Tartt’s defence but…just you! The idea of being attacked by an army of Fifty Sahdes of Goldfish is truly terrifying, I admit…but you should never underestimate Tuppence! In a spirit of compromise though, rather than burning them, I have collected up all the half-read and abandoned copies of Goldfinch in the world (4,863,426 so far) and am sending them to you for safe-keeping. You may wish to clear some shelf-space…

      Yes! I’ve had a couple where the font-size is so small it’s made me feel distinctly middle-aged! My arms simply are not long enough. Also gaily downloading to the Kindle can be deceiving – suddenly noticing that it’s 10,000 Kindly thingies long (what are those thingies anyway??). Ban them! BAN THEM!!!

      Just off to annoy Tuppence and hide behind the settee now…

  12. Oh, please, I’m with Big Sister, we must save some of those huge doorstops. Although I confess that the ones I’ve read and enjoyed are mostly old ones. Perhaps a time frame. Let some of the ones written over fifty years ago have a pass. You can still ban the Dickens though. Bah, humbug.

    I am now rushing out to peruse Fifty Shades of Chicken before it’s taken off the shelves. Probably it will be thrown down in disgust, but even one new viable recipe for chicken will make the trip worthwhile.

    • 😆 Well, I’m willing to reconsider some of the oldies – it would be a shame to get rid of Vanity Fair, I admit. But a straight time cut-off wouldn’t work, I fear – that way War and Peace would still sneak through, and we wouldn’t want that?!? And not Dickens!! How could you think such a thing!

      Haha! That one is so tempting, isn’t it? And I love the cover picture. Don’t forget to get a big stock of string! Looks like tying the chicken up is going to be essential…

      • The dreaded War and Peace which I never finished. Good point. Looks like we’ll have to go book by book. Author by author won’t work, because then we’ll have to disallow the marvelous Anna Karenina.

  13. Love your list, FF, with the exception of #7 – already well critiqued by your legion of commentators.

    My personal banned book list would include any plots involving serial killers (with exceptions for Lauren Beukes novels) and/or written by authors described as ‘the new Stieg Larsson’.

    • Haha! Sadly I seem to have been outnumbered on the magical realism front. Well, OK, it can stay…but it better be careful in future… 😉

      Ooh, yes, time for serial killers to be gone, girl! And really you only have to write in a ‘foreign’ language to be compared to Stieg Larsson – good choices!

  14. Anything left in the fiction section? One possible additional consideration is the “coming of age” novel. Not all of them are quarantined in the “Teen Angst” section of Barnes & Noble.

    • Haha! Only Dickens, I think – and I had to rescue him from someone else who wanted to throw him on the fire. Ooh yes, teen angst definitely – great choice! On they go…

  15. Ha, ha HA! I got such a kick out of this entry. At first I thought it was going to be about books which were banned…then…. I especially liked the drunken, angst-ridden maverick detective reference! You and my DH have the number-of-pages ban. (Tuppence – laser eyes indeed!)

    I’m proud of myself for not even touching a “50 Shades” book. I think the “Story of O” about covered similar ground, and probably much better. I also think it may have been a banned book at one time, not certain.

    • 😀 Glad you enjoyed it! Yep, bricks should be used for building houses not reading. (She’s terrifying! Plus I just can’t seem to master photographing cats eyes – they always end up looking like that…)

      I’ve never read one either *proud face* …but I’d have thought you might have been tempted by Fifty Shades of Neigh… 😉

  16. Beautiful, just beautiful!! Couldn’t agree more about banning all books about baseball. I’m American, this is supposed to be my national activity…and every American I know is sick of it! Withhold chocolate from them all! Mwahaha!
    On a related note, I’m thrilled to see you’re reading “The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher.” I adore Mantel, can’t wait to hear what you think about it!

    • Haha! That one, the Grisham, has an introduction explaining the rules for us non-Americans. It takes up 13% of the whole book! I’d lost the will to live before I got halfway through…but I may be the only Glaswegian who knows what a drag bunt is… 😉

      Just started it so not sure yet – I thought I wasn’t really enjoying the first story, but then after it finished it made me stop and think…

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