BEA'S BOOK NOOK "I can't imagine a man really enjoying a book and reading it only once." C. S. Lewis “If one cannot enjoy reading a book over and over again, there is no use in reading it at all.” ― Oscar Wilde

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Guest Post by Author D.B. Reynolds: You Can't Stop Ideas


Author D.B. Reynolds is a PNR author who writes about dark, sexy, often terrifying vampires. Her novel, "Jabril", won the RT Reviewers Choice award this past spring. She enjoys debating, is married, is very much a night owl, and has worked in academia and as a sound editor in Hollywood. She was another author who sprang to mind when I began planning posts for this week. I interviewed her in May and reviewed her book, "Sophia".

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When Bea asked me to write something for Banned Books Week, my brain kind of froze up for a minute. {Sorry Donna. :( - BBecause it’s been a long time since I had to write anything other than, well, stories. Ask me to write a short story about vampires or werewolves or witches or pretty much anything paranormal, or even normal for that matter, and I can do it. But my University days are long behind me, so coming up with something serious to say about a VERY serious subject … that’s another matter entirely.

Still, this IS an important subject, and one I feel very strongly about. I don’t believe in banning books or movies or anything else. Call me na├»ve, but I believe in the free expression of ideas or stories or whatever else you want to express---except for the proverbial “fire!” in a theater, which essentially means anything that results in or directly incites harm to others. Other than that, I say go for it. You want to tell me Satan is alive and well and living in Topeka? Knock yourself out. You want to tell me the end of the world is nigh and I’m going to hell because I write sex scenes? Hey, whatever makes you feel better about sitting in the dark and getting off on my sex scenes! ::snicker:: 

The irony is that some of the loudest voices against new ideas were once the object of censorship themselves. Almost every major theological or political ideology in the world today was once, or in some cases still is, the subject of censorship by others. Of course, the root of all censorship is a desire by the Powers That Be to control the narrative, and thus to control their members or citizens, whoever it is that they have or want power over. They’re afraid new ideas will upset the existing system which keeps them in power … and probably in a very fine lifestyle, too. So, they try to stop their people from hearing anything that might threaten their authority. It never works in the long run, but they keep trying.

Anyway, I took a look at the list of banned books and wasn’t at all surprised to discover that I’ve read a whole lot of them. The nuns always did say I was going to hell, and I guess they were right! But look at the list … pretty much everything Stephen King ever wrote is there somewhere. I’m not sure why. Too violent for you, maybe? Hey, then don’t read it. No one’s propping your eyelids open and forcing you to indulge. But don’t deny the rest of us the spine chilling, look-over-your-shoulder shiver that’s a good Stephen King thriller! Too much Satan? Yeah, but King never says it’s a good thing. You’d think those who worry about Satanism would use King’s books as a propaganda tool instead. Or maybe they didn’t understand that Carrie was driven batshit crazy by her mom, and that she wasn’t really elected queen of the prom. That was a cruel joke, okay? If anything, Carrie’s a lesson in being kind to your fellow human beings … especially in high school. Yikes!

Moving on down the list … Kurt Vonnegut? He just dared to say what the rest of us were thinking. That society was going to hell in a handbasket and no one was paying attention. Turns out he was right, and so were George Orwell and Aldous Huxley. And John Steinbeck is on that list because he dared to point out the injustice and inequality of human society. We all know it’s there. Not talking about it doesn’t make it go away. 

J. K. Rowling? Really? Harry Potter? Come on, he’s a great kid who fought on the side of right, who was loyal to his friends and defeated the evil bastard who wanted to hurt others. What’s wrong with that? And besides, you do know that Hogwart’s doesn’t actually exist, right? It’s a fantasy created by Rowling to make her story more interesting to her young readers---readers who will take away from those books the value of friendship and loyalty and courage. What the hell’s wrong with that?

I guess what I’m saying is that banning a book doesn’t stop anyone from thinking about what the book is trying to tell you. If anything, it just makes people more curious about what the book says. You can’t stop ideas, you shouldn’t want to. Ideas are what propel human society, what drives us forward. Human civilization, with all its flaws, is the product of millennia of human ideas. Some village elder probably thought the toilet was scandalous, but aren’t you glad someone else thought of it? The automobile was considered unnatural, but where we would be without the combustion engine today? And then there’s that most radical idea of all … democracy. There are people in control (lots of those) in the world right now who would ban the Internet if they could, limit the ability of people to communicate free ideas across the globe. Which means you wouldn’t be reading my very brilliant essay right now! Now THAT would be a tragedy.

So, do yourself a favor. Do your world a favor. Read a banned book this week. Hell, go crazy and read a couple of them!


4 comments:

  1. Couldn't agree with you more DB!
    It's often the ones who protest the most/loudest that have the secret urges and lusts that they are fighting.

    Great post!

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  2. I looked at the list and was stunned by the books that are on it! Many of them were required reading while I was in school (in the U.S.), and many of them I have read for pleasure and still many more are in my TBR pile. I love to read just about anything, and the thought of someone trying to stop me just makes me want to read that much more. My children have read many of these books (and I hope they will read many more), and I don't see where their brains have been damaged in the least.

    Personally I think those who try to ban books are really trying to ban people from thinking for themselves and having original thoughts. How very narrow of them. It is up to parents to teach their children to be free thinkers and to encourage them to read anything that interests them (within their age range of course), and to help them understand anything that confuses or concerns them.

    Here's to many many more nights reading what someone else thinks I shouldn't!!

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  3. I'm a Banned Book week failure. I had all these good intentions to read a banned book for the event and then I got crazy and viewed Defoe's Moll Flanders on DVD. I promise to increase my banned book reading.
    Love you D.B.!

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  4. Lord of the Flies, Gone With the Wind, and for crying out loud, James And The Giant Peach. All on the list.

    I don't agree with censoring books. I think Mr. Bradbury would concur with all of us.

    Great post, Donna. Well said.

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