Should books be banned?


Warning…this blog is not funny.  I needed to write this and it may cause you to think (the horror) but these words needed to get out.  Recently in the book world, a book and an author came under scrutiny due to the content of the book.  It was declared a “banned” book by Amazon due to its content and that is where the controversy started.  It was even advertised by the author as a “banned” book.  Which led me to ponder, as an author, at what point should a book be banned or never published?  Should we ever silence someone’s voice?  What content in a book is considered unacceptable to be published?  Should book banning be a thing? And where do I stand on this subject as an author?  As a reader?

We all have heard the stories of books being banned based on content, language and sometimes sexuality.  And not just in other countries.  It happens here too.  In fact, my favorite book of all time, Gone With the Wind, was banned for the vocabulary used in reference to African-Americans.  To be honest, as many times as I have read that book, I was never bothered by the language.  I looked at it as historically accurate.  But, nonetheless, it was banned.  So at what point is a book considered pornographic?  Racially inappropriate?  Is it censorship?

In the book in question, there is an inappropriate relationship between a father and daughter.  One that is romanticized, not condemned.  And not just romanticized, but it is sexually explicit.  It was this content that made Amazon decide not to publish it so it was published on another platform.  The book was advertised as “banned” and many readers grabbed it to see what the hype was.  There is a “trigger” warning on the book, however it is quite vague and does nt really alert readers as to the situation that this book deals with.  A father/daughter relationship that is romantic and sexual in nature with a minor.  The girl is 16 and the book implies that this relationship is consensual.  Now, before I go any further, I must say this.  I do NOT condone this subject matter.  I feel that this type of storyline is bordering on irresponsible as an author.  I feel it could lead to many girls feeling like this situation is ok, that it is not abuse.  And THAT is not ok with me.  But did I feel like it should be banned?  I thought long and hard about this.  It was not as clear of a choice for me to make as I thought it would be.

I have always been in the camp of reading and books should never be banned, but this book and it’s subject matter made me stop and think.  Is it alright to write and romanticize molestation?  Should this voice be allowed to be out there in the world?  This subject matter really sits wrong with me.  But, then again, some forms of pornography also sit wrong with me and I don’t feel it should be banned. Because to each his own.  So why is this different?  Why am I feeling like this should be banned?  This book is about an underage child having a romantic relationship with her father.  **SPOILER**  You do find out at some point that they are not blood related and she is adopted, but still he raised her as his child and she considered him to be her Dad.  This REALLY bothers me.  I cannot stand any children being abused or sexually molested in any way.  It is a topic that is a hot button for me, maybe because I see it way too much in my line of work.  I frequently feel that child molesters should be locked up for life because they cannot be rehabilitated, no matter what people say.  When I heard about the subject matter of the book, I was disgusted and horrified.  How can anyone write about such a thing and romanticize it?  I was actually sick to my stomach over the fact that someone would publish such a story.  It involves a minor.  I do not care what the age of consent is in the state where the story takes place.  It is a child in a relationship with her father.  NOT OK in my book.  Not ever.  And I will always be outraged over this subject matter.

But should it be banned?  Should any book be banned? I sat on this subject for a long time.  It really hit home because as an author, what if I wrote something that someone considered inappropriate and called for it to be banned?  What if someone doesn’t like the word fat?  So this is my view.  No.  A book should never be banned.  Because if we start banning books with this one, then we will end up banning books like Gone With the Wind, Huckleberry Finn and many others over content or language or sexuality.  Readers have the right to read what they want to read and voices should never be silenced.  I realize that this viewpoint may not be a popular one with this book, considering the subject matter, but it is my opinion.  And I stand by it.  NO BOOK SHOULD EVER BE BANNED.  Amazon has a right to refuse to publish it and I have a right to not read it, but it should not be banned.  We live in a country that was founded on freedom of speech and everyone has a right to express their speech however they see fit.  I will choose not to read this book due to its subject matter, same as choosing not to read some forms of pornography but I will say this.  I urge this author to consider the implications of this story.  I urge her to look at whether her story will cause more harm then good and consider whether or not it needs to be out there.  We have responsibilities as authors.  We are responsible for our words and the impact they cause.  We need to look at the cause and effect these words can have on a person.  Therefore, I urge this author to consider her words and their impact and her responsiblity for them and whether the story should actually be out there.  Think when you write.  Was this a story that maybe should have just be kept to yourself? What statement were you trying to make with this subject matter?  As authors we need to consider these things when writing.  I even considered whether or not to write this blog.  But here I am…loud mouth and all.

I choose not to read this book but I also choose that it not be banned.  Books should never be banned. I will always stand up to censorship.

Oh yeah.  I didn’t die today.  I did think long and hard about book banning and ended up more torn than I thought I ever would but I didn’t die.  I am Fat Girl who feels all authors should write responsibly but should never be banned Running.  The experiment continues…

A Dinner With Romance Authors In Which I Expand My Vocabulary


Ever wonder what it is like to have dinner with authors?  I am sure you readers out there have fantasized about the intellectual conversation that would occur, discussing books and reading and all sorts of things.  And inside you would be silently fangirling over the fact that you were having dinner with authors (Ok maybe that is just me.  Sometimes I forget that I, too, am a writer).  It would be like those dinners with Oprah that she used to show, a book club of sorts and it would all be elegant and fancy.  BFF and I had a dinner in Boise with other authors, most of them romance authors as that is what most of my friends write, and let me tell you it was quite the experience.  Not at all like what you picture.  Nope.  Let me tell you, when you have a dinner with mostly romance authors, the conversation gets rather….well shall we say colorful?  I am giggling right now just thinking about the author dinner following the signing at Boise.  Pretty sure my sides hurt from laughter and my vocabulary is greatly expanded.

Most of my friends happen to be romance authors because that is what I like to read.  Romance and YA are my two preferred genres and the group of romance authors I am friends with have helped me immensely in this author world.  After the signing, we had a dinner that the book fest organizer arranged in a private room at the hotel and our entire group went to have dinner together.   The dinner was actually JUST our entire group of friends with a couple of spouses, a brother, and BFF included.  I knew then there would be shenanigans.  There was some talk of business and how to improve the next year’s event, but quite rapidly the conversation turned.  Let me tell you, romance writers have quite the …ummmm….vocabulary.  I believe there was some sort of question asked about how many words could we all come up with as an alternative for the word penis.  Oh lordy.  I am quite certain that the brother of one of the authors was not prepared for the variety and the quick way in which that question was answered.  Pretty sure I must have heard like 250 words used to describe the male anatomy.  I have read a lot of terms, being a romance reader, like “shaft” and “member”, but the term “pussy puncher”?  That was a new one for even me.  The funny thing was that it actually came from one of the three men who were dining with us, not one of the romance writers in the group.  And that was not the only thing we learned from the guys.

We all quickly learned that in the military, it is quite customary to go into the bathroom and discover intricate drawings of the male anatomy.  Complete with shading and detail drawn usually in sharpie.  Apparently the bathrooms is usually where these drawings can be found and new ones pop up every day.  What I want to know is how much time do these guys spend in the bathroom drawing such pictures?  One of the guys even described going into the bathroom to clean off the penises already drawn in there and finding quite the drawing on the ceiling of the bathroom.  I believe he called it the “Sistine Chapel of Cock”.  I have never laughed so hard in my entire life as BFF turned to me and said “Can’t you just see it?  Two penises almost touching like in the original picture?”  Hysterical laughter could be heard loudly, especially as just as the phrase “Sistine Chapel of Cock” was said again as one of the wait staff walked into the room to see if we needed anything. He quickly exited, his face turning a few shades of red.  Poor dude.  The conversation turned even raunchier after that and our poor organizer got lessons in all sorts of sexual things.  These are romance writers after all.  She also turned some amazing shades of red.

Just when the poor wait staff thought it was safe to come in and clear for dessert, the same waiter came in right as we were discussing another picture that was described as “Dick-A-Saurus Rex”.  The poor waiter turned a few more shades of red and shook his head at us as we laughed even harder.  I am sure he had some stories to tell as he listened in to our colorful conversation.  I wish I could tell you all the conversation that we had, but lordy it was raunchy.  My friends are loud, obnoxious and hysterical. Let me just say that I left that dinner with a great expansion of my vocabulary and sore abdominal muscles.  Also, I am pretty sure the organizer is regretting allowing us to all be in the same room together.  I wonder if she is going to ask us all back?

Oh yeah.  I didn’t die today.  I did learn new vocabulary for the male anatomy but I did not die.  I am the Fat Girl who learned all about the “Sistine Chapel of Cock” Running.  The experiment continues…