Thursday, September 30, 2021

#TBT: Why I Ban Books

For #ThrowbackThursday, here's a Banned Books Week repost: 

In honor of Banned Books Week, I have a confession: I ban books. Sometimes I do it regretfully, sometimes I do it with enthusiasm. Here are ten reasons why:

10.  Brain Ache – This occurs when a story is so convoluted, I need the ghost of 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;

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 of dialects, anything that makes me overly conscious of the act of reading;

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.

For more information, here's a recent NPR article about Banned Books Week. 

Take care friends, and I hope you're reading a good book this week, banned or not.