So there are all these books and three sections inside the cart. How to divide them? Which hierarchies should I observe?
The top of the cart is a kind of New Releases section. The main criterion is shininess. At one point I belonged to one of those quarterly subscriptions that sent me many beautiful books, books that fell into the category of things-someone-else-would-really-enjoy. As a result, they’re mostly in mint condition, at least the ones that have escaped Colby’s ravages.
I am now left with the less shiny offerings. I have separated out serious and non serious reading, the i-1 that extensive reading theorists recommend. as opposed to the let’s -get-educated kind of stuff. I guess it’s all relative, but Eat, Pray, Love and Wild get to go in the fun part
and Thomas Kuhn’s Structure of Scientific Revolutions does not.
Then there’s a section for younger readers. This is a tough call for me because I really resist restricting what young people read. I had a protracted argument with the Toronto Public Library over whether Em had a right to read Joanna Trollope. My side was fueled by righteous passion, but seriously weakened by the facts that a) I was actually borrowing the book for myself, but using Em’s card because her overdue fines were lower, and b) (in my dad’s words) nobody should be allowed to read Joanna Trollope.* I basically believe young people should read whatever they want without any authority figure standing over them and guiding them one way or the other. Conversely, these books should be accessible to other readers who do not fit into the target age group:
I’ve marked it with a sign that provides information without passing any kind of judgement.
But hold on, do I really believe that young people should be able to read whatever they want? I wonder whether there are any books that the younger readers absolutely should not read. I am a little concerned about Lovely Bones and Room: the topics are difficult, but they are clearly marketed to young women. The innocuous titles and breezy colourful dust jackets might lure readers in, and they might not realize until they are in the middle of the action what exactly is going on. In fact, Lovely Bones is the only book I can remember telling Em not to read (not that she listened to me). Still, I shall not censor these. I have decided to keep them but relegate them to “Serious Reading,” hidden behind Structure of Scientific Revolutions.
I have similar qualms about Junot Diaz. It’s hard to know what to do with a writer who’s both a #Metoo accuser and a #Metoo accused — then there’s the fact that he wrote that beautiful, powerful essay about the abuse that he suffered. I can’t parse the morality of that right now. He gets to stay in the library, but he’s off the shiny shelf and into “Serious Reading” (also in behind Thomas Kuhn).
*Sorry, JT, I still love you, but you’ve got to admit that it’s not the same as campaigning for the right to read Jane Austen or something.