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Friday, March 17, 2006

Are books dangerous?

I suppose books must be dangerous, or there wouldn't be so much effort through the years at suppressing them.

And yet, I think suppressing books is far more dangerous than anything that might be contained in a book.

A junior high teacher near where I live was recently told by a parent that her daughter was not to read The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton because it was too violent and it was in conflict with the family's values. It reminded me of when I was attending a small religious university and was told that I shouldn't read Nitzche because he was "wrong" and my mind was analgous to a computer--if I put garbage in, garbage would come out.

I happen to be of the opinion that our brains are much better at processing and analyzing than even the most sophisticated of computers. However, we must learn how to analyze. There is a danger that we will spout whatever we read if we haven't been exposed to things that we disagree with and learned to recognize differences and to articulate them.

Sometimes, it is far more important to read things we disagree with than to read things we agree with. If we don't, how will we be able to fight the battles that need fighting?

There are many books that make me uncomfortable, but they are all the more important for causing me discomfort.

So my assignment for the weekend: Find a book that makes me uncomfortable and read it.

Any suggestions?


  • I had a phase where I read Human All Too Human, Thus Spoke Zarathustra and several essays almost back to back even though I disagreed with some of his logic. I gained a lot from that experience though, and I would like to read Mein Kamph but I'd be terrified if someone saw me reading it or if I learned that the proceeds somehow fed similar thinkers or relatives. My reasoning though, is that you sometimes have to challenge yourself in order to construct a solid argument that addresses all points the author made.

    Hope you find a good dangerous book to read! I look forward to reading the results on your blog.


    By Anonymous Meagan, at 1:35 PM  

  • Hello Meagan!

    Welcome to my book blog.

    I ended up finding a book that made me uncomfortable because of the way it conflicted with my own personal political and social views. It's not at all what I would call a dangerous book, though. So I'm still searching and still thinking about how to blog the othe rbook.

    From what my husband tells me, Mein Kamph is actually a rather boring read, but one that we would have done well to pay attention to when it was first written as it spells out everything Hitler planned to do.

    I couldn't agree with you more--how can you counter something intellectually if you don't first look at it and listen?

    By Blogger Book Help Web Editorial Team, at 8:46 AM  

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