Thursday, March 12, 2009


When I sign into Windows Live Messenger (as I do every day, hoping with all my heart that there will be SOMEONE I can talk to), the "Windows Live Today" box pops up. I usually glance at the titles of whatever they think is important at that moment and close the box- As pressing as such issues as "10 Nude Scenes We Didn't Need to See" are, I just don't have any patience for them.

BUT- here's one for ya: "10 Books That Caused A Commotion*" was actually fairly interesting. It's not an exhaustive list of controversial books by any means, but it's a sampling of what we've found shocking, disturbing, or just WRONG in the past and today. "To Kill A Mockingbird" tops the list- what was once controversial was part of my 10th grade English curriculum. I've been meaning to re-read that one... onto the list it goes!

Why did this list show up today? Well, there's this book coming out in English- it's already sold more than a million copies in German- called "Wetlands" by Charlotte Roche. You can, uh... you can read that article if you want to see why it's controversial, or if you're feeling REALLY brave, you can Browse Inside to read the first 15 pages or so. Definitely not for those with weak stomachs or those who are easily offended; the book's 18-year old narrator/protagonist is talking about anal sex on the first page. That and hemmheroids.

And yet... I might just read the rest of it. That, and some of the other books on the list. My mind's not getting any bigger if I'm only reading things that re-affirm what I already know and believe.

Tell me what you think: Why do you read? WHAT do you read, and where do you draw the line? Where's the line between mind-expanding and offensive? What book have you read that's been the most challenging to or different from your own way of thinking?

Seriously, comment on this one, OK? (Yes, this means you)

*This link will take you to the full article from HarperCollins, not the abridged Windows Live-linked version.


  1. I don't think that I've ever read anything that caused me to consider censorship. Helter Skelter was pretty disturbing, but I spent too many years studying some pretty weird ancient Greek stuff. And the Marquis de Sade, and Rabelais. Bad non-fiction about Charles Manson was pretty mild in comparison ;)

  2. I'm sure there's a line between mind-expanding and offensive somewhere, but I've yet to come anywhere close to it, even with some fairly disturbing books. Then again, I'm probably on the extreme when it comes to the free flow of information and ideas, no matter how disturbing, offensive, or even hateful. Even in the case of disturbing racist propaganda and the disgusting writings of pedophiles like John Robin Sharpe, I err on the side of expression over suppression.

    Interestingly, one of the most interesting books I've read in recent memory was The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins. While not controversial in the same sense as Wetlands, its presence on my bookshelf has nonetheless earned me disapproving stares from fellow Christians.