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University Library: The Stacks

You never knew what (or whom) you would find in the stacks.  (image via wikimedia)

A college sex comedy without sex sounds pretty lame, but that’s what my first semester at State University was like.  My dorm roommate was getting some at least twice a week, and everybody (except me) thought it was hilarious.  Whenever Kirk showed up with a drunk chick (he would be drunk too, so everybody was okay with it back then; there were no pre-sex mutual consent forms in the 1980s), I’d head out to the University Library to study/sleep for the night.  It was open 24 hours, and there were lots of places to fall asleep without getting noticed.

Some people found quiet rooms or open areas in the lobby for study groups, but almost everybody avoided the stacks.  Students would use the stacks for research when they had to, but otherwise, they stayed away.  The shelves lurched to the ceiling and were filled with old dusty cobwebbed books.  Once when I had curiously pulled one from the shelves, I had a sneezing fit and woke up a couple sleepers a few aisles away.

You always felt isolated if you spent too much time in the stacks.  An urban legend even told the tale of a naked guy who would chase a terrified/disgusted coed around the top floor (where the most obscure books were) once a year, but the naked guy never got caught, so none of us believed the story.

It was a Friday, and Kirk had already declared he’d need the dorm room, so I was looking for a place to camp out for the night.  I had just gotten off work (a telemarketing job that I hated, but it paid a lot more than minimum wage and there was a commission, and a Friday night shift meant that I was done for the weekend).

My voice was scratchy from all the sales pitches.  I knew I wasn’t really going to study.  I had a spot in a corner on the third floor where I could sleep just fine without being disturbed.  I had a few comic books secured in a folder in my backpack.  As soon as I pulled them out of the folder, Brenda popped out from behind a book shelf.

“So you did go to the comic book store today,” she said almost cheerfully.

“What, are you KGB or something?” I said while putting the comics back in the folder, even though they’d already been spotted.

“No, just good timing,” she said.  “This is what I do when I’m bored on a Friday night, wander the University Library.”

“You shouldn’t be up here so late by yourself,” I said.  “The naked guy might get you.”

“Do you think he’s real?” Brenda asked.  She moved so close to me that I could smell the minty gum in her breath.  “I bet it happened once years ago and now everybody exaggerates it.”

“I don’t think it really happened,” I said.  “I think some guy probably walked out of a restroom adjusting his fly, and some girl freaked out, and the fly adjuster became the naked guy over time.”

Brenda pondered this.  “That seems like a stretch.”

I thought about explaining that I hadn’t been serious about this theory, but I decided to commit.  “No, back in the 20s or 30s or whenever, adjusting your fly would have been a big deal, especially if you made eye contact with a woman and then made a creepy face.  He probably licked his lips or something.  That would have been a moral equivalent of walking around naked today.”

“Do you spend time thinking about stuff like this?” she asked.

“I’ve never thought about walking naked in the University Library.”

Brenda’s mouth hung open.  Then she said, “What are you doing tomorrow night?”

Crap, I thought.  I hoped she wasn’t about to ask me out.  She’d been hanging around me for the last few weeks, and I’d been trying to avoid her.  It wasn’t that I thought I was too good for her.  Back then, I had a lot of issues that made me unappealing to a lot of women.  I just didn’t find her attractive, and I didn’t want a girlfriend for the sake of having a girlfriend.

“I’m probably designator driving,” I said.

“Your asshole roommate.”

“And a few other friends,” I clarified.

“You know where all the good parties are,” she said.

“Not really.  I’m not the one who gets invited.  I’m just the driver.  But I get to go.”

“Maybe… when you hear about the party, do you think you can tell me about it?”

“There’s not a lot of room in my car,” I said.  I wasn’t making that up.  The back of the chevette scooter had room for three (officially), but we’d stuff five back there if we had to.

“I can get there myself,” she said.  “I’m just bored.  Dorm life is not what I thought it would be.  I need to get out of that place, and I never know where to go, except here.”

I actually felt sympathy for her.  Brenda spiked her hair and dressed cool, but she annoyed everybody.  Then I finally understood why she was always trying to hang out with me.  I knew all the cool people in the dorm.  I wasn’t a cool guy, but I hung out with the cool guys.  I was an honorary cool guy, even if I spent most of my free time in the University Library.  I could have been offended that she only wanted to be around me because of my friends.  Or I could have felt relieved that she wasn’t looking for a romantic entanglement.  To be honest, I actually felt relieved.

But this was soon going to cause a problem that there was no way to foresee.

*****

To be continued.  Or you can start here to read University Library  from the beginning.

5 Great Novels For People Who Don’t Like Reading Books

Is this novel really on a list for people who hate to read books?

Even though I read a lot, I’ve always had friends who hate reading.  Don’t get me wrong.  My friends can read.  They’re capable of reading.  It’s just that they prefer to do other stuff with their time.  It doesn’t cause problems with our friendships.  They don’t tell me to stop reading, so I don’t tell them they should read more.

But every once in a while, when they’re curious about good books, I have found that even my friends who hate reading have enjoyed the books on the list in the video below.

These books are not recent.  They’ve been around for a while.  I don’t recommend these books all at one time.  I don’t even recommend these books for everyone.  These are not MUST READ books.

These are simply good/great books for people who usually don’t like to read.

But enough about me!  What books would you recommend to a friend who can read but doesn’t?

Should Bad Ideas Be Banned from Social Media?

(image via wikimedia)

Years ago, social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter were promoted as community builders with a purpose of bringing people together.  Yeah, we laugh about that now, but that’s how it was.

Soon, it became clear that data collection was a huge part of social media platforms, and most people seemed to be okay with it.  After all, if you didn’t want your data collected, you didn’t have to use the services.  Now it looks like the platforms are deciding what ideas are acceptable and what ideas aren’t.  In some cases, social media platforms are banning users from these platforms altogether because of those users’ words and ideas.

Next week, the American Library Association is promoting Banned Book Week.  Despite what the name might suggest, Banned Book Week is about NOT banning books.  That’s the whole point.  The ALA promotes books that have been banned in the past.  The ALA thinks banning books is bad.  Books have been banned in the past because of words.  Books have been banned because of ideas.

Books don’t get banned much anymore because it is now established that banning books is bad.  Whenever a community tries to keep a book out of its school or community library, the rest of the country mocks that community for its backwards thinking.  It’s pretty well established that book banning doesn’t happen nearly as much as it used to.

Now it’s social media that bans ideas.  I don’t want ideas banned in books or social media, not even bad ideas.  The whole point of free expression is for people to figure out for themselves what ideas are good and what ideas are bad.  It seems that instead of mocking social media for banning ideas, people (usually called outrage mobs) encourage it.

I’m intentionally being vague about which words and ideas have been banned from social media because once you get specific, people start lecturing me about why the bad word, idea, or person is bad.  I understand that already.  I’m talking about the principal involved.

I’m over 50 years old.  I’ve gotten my college degree and have been working for over 30 years.  I don’t need an algorithm and some 30-year-olds deciding for me what ideas are safe and which are dangerous.  I admit, I shouldn’t even mention age.  I don’t even need any 70-year-olds keeping me safe from ideas either.

Since I’m over 50, I’ve had a lot of bad ideas and said a lot of stupid things in my life.  Sometimes I’ve even been told to my face that what I’ve said is stupid.  I didn’t like being contradicted in public (nobody likes it), but I’ve also learned from it.  I’ve reshaped my own ideas from arguing things out, hearing other people, and deciding which of their ideas are stupid and which ones made sense.  Arguing is like a rough draft for thinking.  You have to get through the garbage to find the stuff worth keeping.

When social media bans people for saying controversial things, offensive things, or stupid things, it keeps adults from making the decisions for themselves.  That might be okay in totalitarian countries, but it shouldn’t be okay in the United States.

I know social media platforms are run by companies/corporations that (to some extent) can make their own rules, and I believe in that too.  My issue is that these entities aren’t being clear in their terms of service what their policies are.  As a platform user, I’ve read the rules and have seen lots of vague terms that can be (and probably are) enforced arbitrarily.  I’m not sure shareholders (and various legal systems) appreciate unequal enforcement of rules.

I admit, some of my concern is selfish.  I’m putting more content on different platforms now, and I’d like to know the rules.  I’ve seen people lose content or get banned for silly offenses.  One guy got suspended from a platform because he wrote a metaphor that was taken literally by an outrage mob (Whoops!  That’s almost a specific example!).  The outrage mob was probably just one person with a bunch of fake accounts, but it can still look like a lot of outrage, and it got the guy suspended.

I’m not worried about me getting banned or suspended (yet).  My writing/content is fairly benign.  I don’t go out of my way to provoke people’s emotions or stir things up.  But I like to read that kind of stuff.  And I don’t want somebody else deciding what ideas I can see.  If social media platforms are going to continue shutting users down, I want them to be up front about why.  What exactly are we allowed say?  What exactly can we NOT say?  Will these rules be enforced on everybody or just the unpopular users?

Maybe it’s just me, but banning ideas seems to be the work of control freaks.  When I was a kid, the social control freaks tried to ban certain books and certain music.  They couldn’t ban much, but they got ratings.  Those control freaks from 20-30 years ago gave us those ratings systems that encourage kids to buy mature stuff.  Now a new generation of control freaks has gained control of social media.  And I don’t think ratings will be enough for them this time.

*****

Enough about me!  What do you think?  Should social media platforms ban users for unpopular (but legal) words and ideas?  Why or why not?

It’s Okay to Hate Moby Dick

Reading about Moby Dick might be more fun than actually reading Moby Dick.

Classic literature is tough to read sometimes, and a book that gets criticized for this a lot is Moby Dick.  Even though there might be books that are more hated than Moby Dick, it seems to be the standard.  People who don’t read much aren’t familiar with polarizing novels like Infinite Jest or Finnegans Wake, but everybody’s heard of Moby Dick.  Even people who don’t read hate Moby Dick just because of what they’ve heard.

Throughout the course of my life, I’ve been pro-Moby Dick, and I’ve been anti-Moby Dick.  Right now I’m ambivalent about Moby Dick.  It’s best to write about stuff when you’re not feeling too passionate. After all, you need to see both sides of an issue to be fair.  A little passion is necessary for good writing, but too much can make you sound crazy.  I don’t want to sound crazy when I’m talking about literature.

Sometimes I tell myself “I’ll never have to read Moby Dick again,” and I smile.  I mean, I’m capable of reading Moby Dick.  I might decide to challenge myself one final time, and that would be great.  Even if I decide to read Moby Dick again, I probably won’t enjoy the experience. If I read Moby Dick again, I might even hate it.

Hey, Kids! Comic Books Have #MeToo Issues Too!

If you mess with these ladies, a hashtag will be the least of your problems! (image from book The Super-Hero Women)

Sexual harassment is easy to deal with in a comic book.  If a guy harasses a woman in a comic book, the woman can just punch the guy through three walls.  Or she can hit him with a lightning bolt.  Or throw him out of orbit.  Or send him into another dimension.  In a comic book, dealing with sexual harassment and inappropriate behavior would be easy.  And maybe even kind of fun.

But real life is different.  Now the #MeToo stuff has rocked the comic book world, and it’s not fun for anybody.   I mean, it hasn’t exactly rocked the comic book world.  This incident doesn’t involve Marvel or DC, so it hasn’t gotten a lot of attention.  It involves a bunch of people I’d never heard of, and I probably won’t even mention their names.  The only reason I know about it is because a publishing website linked a  Comics Journal article about it.  Comic book controversies that aren’t Marvel or DC related don’t make it to the mainstream.

The short version is that a small press comic book publisher has been accused of something really bad by one person, and then several other people piled on with accusations of their own, and now the accused is suing the accusers for defamation of character because the accusations have crushed his business.

I wasn’t going to write about this, but a couple things caught my attention.

First of all, one accuser claims that the offender would use comic shows/conventions as “hunting grounds.”   I don’t know about you, but I don’t trust a quote when there are only two words in it.  That’s from the article in my link, and that article has no link to this quote, so I have no idea what the person quoted actually said.  If I were a reporter, I’d at least use the full sentence, unless it was some run-on, in which case I’d use the subject and verb with a nice ellipsis if necessary.  To me, a two word quote is always suspicious.

Secondly, I don’t know any guy who uses comic shows/conventions to meet women.  Guys go to comic shows because they have a tough time with women (which would also explain a comic book guy’s alleged inappropriate behavior).  Even if a comic book publisher is looking for female talent, there are much better places than the comic book show to meet women.  To be fair, I’ve seen guys hit on the models dressed up as Wonder Woman or Black Widow or Storm at comic conventions, but these women were quick to reject the comic guys, even if the guys had some money.

Maybe things have changed.  Maybe cosplay has changed the comic book hunting grounds, but I don’t think so.  Maybe cosplay was invented to bring women to comic shows so that the shows could then become “hunting grounds.”  Comic creators can think of some diabolical stuff.  That’s why it’s better if comic creators put their efforts into comic books, rather than try to implement their crazy ideas in the real world.

I used to go to comic book shows, and the looking-at-women part of my brain always shut down when I got there.  Almost every show had a Wonder Woman, and guys like me didn’t even notice.  If Wonder Woman had been standing in the parking lot, maybe I would have glanced at her (in a completely appropriate way), but once I was locked in on the comic books, no woman was going to get in my way.  It’s probably a reason why I got a late start on my dating (which I’ve explained a little bit in my blog serial University Library).

Even though I’m surprised a comic book guy would use conventions as “hunting grounds,” I’m not shocked that a comic book guy would get accused of inappropriate (at the least) behavior around women.  Comic book guys have a reputation for not being the smoothest of gentlemen.  When women friends of mine would read comic books (decades ago), their first comment was usually, “Whoever drew this needs a girlfriend.”  A few comic book artists reputedly hung out with a certain kind of dancer, just to get the female proportions in their drawings right, of course.  So I’m not shocked that a comic guy would do something creepy, if he’s actually guilty.

Remember, I’m not suggesting that the guy accused in this story is guilty.  I’m not taking sides.  After all, I don’t want to get sued for defamation of character.

*****

40 years ago, comic books were primarily for kids, and some adults discouraged us from reading them.  I think some adults believed comic books weren’t challenging enough.  True, they weren’t that challenging, but they were fun, and that was great for kids who hated reading because reading was a challenge to them.  Comic books were a gateway to reading for me and some of my friends.  I went from comic books to short fantasy novels to actual novels.  I went from classic comic books to the actual classics.  The Iliad was a tough read, but I did it in 6th grade because the classic comic was so awesome.

Comic books helped me to understand plot structure.  Comics got me interested in the classics.  Comics gave me common ground with other kids that I didn’t have much in common with (later on, football became my common ground).  I learned a lot from comic books.  Thankfully, though, I didn’t learn about sexual harassment.

Awkward Moments in Dating: The Runny Nose

(image via wikimedia)

This wasn’t the best dating situation I’d ever been in.  I was on a first date with a woman named Jenny who had great cleavage and an obsession with Garth Brooks (this was before he was super famous).  We were at a Mexican restaurant that her ex-boyfriend managed.  I’d just met the ex-boyfriend (you can read more about it here), and then, as Jenny and I were eating, my nose began running.  It was the kind of itchy running that you can’t sniff back, and it was about to drop out of my nose with Jenny looking straight at me.

I could feel the downpour about to rush out onto my upper lip.  I don’t want to be gross about this, but Jenny was staring right at me.  If you think you’re disgusted reading a description of snot flowing, think how bad it would have been for Jenny to see this.  I wasn’t just trying to save my pride with what I was about to do.  I was thinking about Jenny’s feelings too.

I pointed behind Jenny toward the restaurant entrance.  “Haha!  That guy just tripped over a step,” I said.

Jenny turned around, and I wiped my nose just as the drainage dropped.  Jenny was quick and turned back to face me, catching me with the napkin at my nose.

“You’re not slick,” she said.  “You okay?”

I was mildly surprised at the question.  Women on dates usually pretended stuff like this didn’t happen.  I was still in denial mode.

“Fine,” I said, and then I accidentally sniffed really hard.  “Coke habit.”

Jenny laughed and then muttered, “You and Bob would get along.”

“I was joking about my coke habit,” I said.  I’d rather Jenny thought I had a runny nose than a coke habit.

“I know.”  But she didn’t say she was joking about Bob.  I wasn’t sure if I should laugh at that or not, so I didn’t.  I didn’t want her to think I found humor in her ex-boyfriend’s coke habit.  Picturing that goofy-looking guy snort did make me laugh internally, though.

We continued working on our fajita plate, but now we were quiet.  It wasn’t awkward because we were eating, and I don’t like to talk too much while I’m eating.  But a few bites later, the drip feeling came back. I flexed my nostril muscles silently, hoping the itch and drip would go away, but it didn’t help.  I tried a quick sniff and hoped that Jenny wouldn’t notice.

“Coke habit again?”

“I swear I haven’t touched the stuff in months.”  I was joking again, and she knew that, I was sure, but I need to know that you as a reader know that I was joking.  I usually don’t make coke jokes on a first date.

“I’m going to go wash my hands,” I said.  I really didn’t want to deal with my issues in front of her.

I rushed into the bathroom and saw that the two stalls were taken.  The urinals were available, but I needed the toilet paper.  I hadn’t brought tissue (I learned from this experience), and the paper towel dispenser was empty and the air dryer was rusty, not that it would have done any good.  What was I going to do with an air dryer?  Stick my nose under it and let the rush of hot air blow it dry?  I could hurt my neck trying a maneuver like that.

I sniffed hard and rubbed my nose with my arm, waiting for somebody to come out of the stall.  One guy was in for the long haul, it was obvious, but I won’t explain why.  I could tell from the angle of the other guy’s shoes that he was ready to come out.

I stood at the sink and pretended to wash my hands when the guy came out of the stall.  As he stepped toward the available sink, I bee-lined to the stall and closed the door.  I held my breath as I yanked a bunch of toilet paper from the roll.  I threw the first batch into the toilet, flushed it, and then stuffed the second batch into my back pocket.  Then I took a third batch and stepped out into the open area by the sinks.  I blew my nose, threw away tissue, blew my nose, threw away tissue, and blew my nose again.  I could still feel the itch.

Despite the stubborn itch, I had to return to Jenny.  She was going to think something gross was going on in here if I stayed too long.

I sniffed hard a couple times and tried a leisurely stroll back to our booth.  Crap!  Bob had sat down across from Jenny.  They were laughing about something.  She seemed comfortable with him, brushing her hair back and looking him in the eye.  To his credit, he wasn’t checking out her cleavage.  I hadn’t gotten to the point where I was used to her cleavage yet.  I hadn’t figured out yet whether I wanted to get to that point where I’d be used to her cleavage, but I wanted to make that decision myself.

I couldn’t just stand there and let Bob keep talking to my date.  He was her ex, and he was sitting in a power position at the booth, and I was in the back of the restaurant with a drippy nose.  I had to do something quick.  But whatever I did, I didn’t want to embarrass myself.  I really didn’t want to embarrass myself.

*****

To be continued!  In the meantime, start at the beginning with Awkward Moments in Dating: The Coworker!

Will Anybody Buy Barnes & Noble?

(image via wikimedia)

This seems to be a bad time for the book store Barnes & Noble.  Its CEO got fired a couple months ago and is counter-suing for severance pay (read more here) .  Barnes & Noble’s stock keeps struggling.  A secret potential buyer just pulled out of a deal after looking over all B&N’s financial records (read more here).  If you’re a book buyer, you might want to save some extra money for a giant clearance sale in the near future.

Or you can use that money to buy Barnes & Noble.

Supposedly, Barnes & Noble needs a lot of cash.  This is no surprise.  Everybody needs a lot of money.  Even Barnes & Noble’s competitor Amazon needs a lot of cash.  Amazon spends more money than it brings in, but its shareholders don’t care because they’re confident in Amazon’s future.  They might even believe that Jeff Bezos is going to use Amazon to take over the world and that they will, as shareholders, be major influencers in his decision making.

Nobody believes that Barnes & Noble will take over the world.  Twenty years ago, Barnes & Noble took over the book world, crushing almost all of its smaller competition.  Now it’s on the verge of being crushed, and this internal squabble probably doesn’t help its reputation.

I’d love to buy a Barnes & Noble book store.  I’d buy one store, not the whole franchise.  As much as I love brick and mortar bookstores, though, I’d make some changes.

If I owned a book store, I’d hire really talkative extroverts who knew nothing about books.  Book readers tend to be introverts who have awkward conversations.  It’s okay for me to say that because I’m an introvert who has awkward conversations.  If the book buyer is an introvert and the store employee is an introvert, then every conversation is going to be awkward.  It takes introverts a long time to get comfortable with others, even with other introverts, and my book store has product to move.  Extroverts get along with introverts because introverts need to get pushed a little bit in conversation and extroverts need listeners.

This doesn’t mean that I’d hire only extroverts.  That would be stupid.  I’d need some introverts to do the actual book work and the organizing and the math.  I’d make it comfortable for the introverts.  They’d be instructed not to speak to customers unless they wanted to.  They wouldn’t have to do any unnecessary greeting.  Customers usually don’t like the unnecessary greeting anyway, especially if it’s from an awkward introvert.

If the talkative extroverts are really attractive too, that would be a bonus.  Customers like attractive employees, but I don’t want to be in a position to get sued.  I’m not going to turn my book store into a literary version of Hooters or Twin Peaks, where guys elbow each other and say stuff like, “I’d like to read what’s on the back of THAT book cover.”

I’d probably move the James Patterson books to the back of the store, just out of spite.  I think James Patterson is running a literary scam, but I’d still sell his books.  I’m not vindictive enough to hurt my own business.  I’d just put them in the back, in their own section with giant letters that proclaim JAMES PATTERSON and arrows leading straight to them.  I’d make James Patterson fans walk through the entire store to get to the James Patterson books, but I’d make it a positive experience for the readers.

Instead of classical music, I’d play an audio book over the store speakers.  That’d be a little risky, I know.  I probably wouldn’t want to play a novel because customers who walk in during the middle of the book might not know what’s going on.  Maybe I’d play a bunch of short stories or humorous essays that customers could follow along to as they browse.  Nothing political, though.  I don’t want any political arguments in my book store.  I’m for free speech, but politics is poison for businesses, so I’ll do everything I can to stay out of that crap.

Audio books could cause some problems.  Introverts might get annoyed at the constant talking.  Extroverts might get mad that they have to compete with somebody else’s voice over the store sound system.  I don’t know.  I’d rather hear an audio essay than get a stupid song stuck in my head for the whole day.

That’s what I’d do if I bought my own Barnes & Noble.   I probably can’t afford my own book store, though.  I guess I’ll just have to save my money for the upcoming clearance sales.  Sigh!

*****

But enough about me!  What do you think?  If you owned one Barnes & Noble store, what changes would you make?

The Truth about the White Van!

You can’t see inside, but I bet there’s nothing bad in there. (image via wikimedia)

Despite being a quiet person, I’m kind of a contrarian.  I like to defend things that are unpopular.  A few weeks ago I defended grammar Nazis , and most people understood my reasoning.  A few months ago, I defended President Trump’s reading list , and I avoided the outrage mobs.  Even though I’m a contrarian, I really don’t like dealing with outrage mobs because mobs don’t listen to quiet people.

Now I’m defending white vans.  I know a lot of people think white vans are creepy, but I think white vans have an unfairly bad reputation.

******

Alright, enough about me!  What do you think?  Is there any vehicle creepier than a white van?  If you had a white van, what would you keep inside?

What Books Would You Ban for Banned Book Week?

Trust me, there’s a reason this book should get banned!

The upcoming Banned Book Week is kind of misleading.  It sounds like a week where angry, close-minded readers could burn/defile/destroy any novels or books they found offensive or didn’t like.  I was kind of getting excited.  You mean, I get to ban books for a week?

Instead, the American Library Association uses Banned Book Week (September 22-29)  to promote books that get challenged sometimes by local libraries or people in their communities.  Ugh.  That’s disappointing.  I was looking forward to banning some books

Everybody claims they’re for free speech, but everybody has a breaking point.  Even the ALA has limits.  A couple months ago the ALA changed the name of the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award to the Children’s Legacy Literature Award because of some unintentionally offensive stuff Wilders wrote in her Little House on the Prairie  books almost 100 years ago.

Removing the author’s name from an award isn’t the same as banning a book, but it shows that the ALA is tolerant of diverse points-of-views until it’s not.  Removing the author’s name from an award is the first step on the slippery slope, the gateway, to banning books outright.

Just in case you can’t tell (because of my monotone voice), I don’t really believe in banning books.  But if I had to ban books, if somebody threatened me with world destruction if I didn’t ban books, if I absolutely was forced to ban some books, these are the books I’d get rid of.

  1. 1984 by George Orwell and 2001: A Space Odyssey by Arthur C. Clarke

This is what happens when you write a futuristic book and use the futuristic year as your title. Both 1984 and 2001 have passed us by, and both books with these years as their titles were way off. They weren’t even close. Once the year of a futuristic book with the year in the title has passed us by, the book should get banned because it might confuse people who read it. What if befuddled readers thought 1984 and 2001: A Space Odyssey were historical novels? We must prevent such confusion and ban the books just to be on the safe side.

By the way, I also believe the Prince song “1999” should be banned. I was there in 1999 and saw how people partied that year, and believe me, it was ugly.

  1.     Any book written by a politician

Politicians, especially at the federal level, have it made.  They write/pass laws that they don’t have to follow.  Many of them go in as middle class and come out wealthy (how does that happen?).  They raise tons of money, much of it from people who probably can’t afford it.  Then they write books and expect their constituents to buy them.

The only thing worse than listening to a politician is reading their books.  BAN THEM ALL!!

  1. Any James Patterson book with a co-author

James Patterson has enough books published already (I’m not going to count them). He doesn’t need any more, especially if somebody else is writing the books for him.

I’m not completely unreasonable. If I’m James Patterson’s co-author, the book doesn’t need to get banned.  Book banners always exempt themselves.

Otherwise, BAN ALL JAMES PATTERSON BOOKS!!

  1. Palo Alto and Actors Anonymous by James Franco

These books came out a few years ago, and you don’t hear much about them now, but I still like to mention them occasionally to remind people how fraudulent the media and the book industry can be.  James Franco was promoted as a celebrity who had writing talent and flourished through a prestigious writing program, but Franco’s writing is… average (at best).  Either the Ivy League university’s writing program is overrated, or the Ivy League university’s program looked the other way and pretended this celebrity had writing chops.

Ivy League… what a scam!  These books deserve to be BANNED!!

  1. Any Book on a MUST READ List

I don’t like it when websites tell me what I must read. I didn’t like it when high school teachers and college professors did it. I really don’t like it when somebody who has no authority over tries to tell me I “MUST READ” a book. I’ll decide what books I must read. And if I could, I’d ban every book from those “Must Read” lists just to discourage others from making such lists.

While I’m at it, let’s ban any writer who even makes a MUST READ list.  Why should the books get all the blame?  BAN EVERYBODY INVOLVED!!

*****

Believe me, I take the act of banning books very seriously. I don’t like making decisions for other people, but if I don’t, then somebody else will make the decision for me.   Why shouldn’t I be the one who gets to decide which books to ban?  My opinion is just as important as anybody else who decides to ban books!

But enough about me! What books do you think should get banned? Do the books that I mentioned deserve to get banned?  What criteria do you use when deciding what books to ban?

*****

Here’s a book that’s never been banned, but maybe it should be.

Now available on the Amazon Kindle

How To Write a Best Selling Book-Profanity in the Title!

WARNING- The following essay has uncensored profanity! Do NOT continue if you are easily offended!

There are a lot of ways that an author can write a bestselling book.

A person can become a celebrity first and THEN write a book, such as Magnolia Table by Joanna Gaines and 12 Rules for Life by Jordan B. Peterson.

A writer can write a negative book about a current president (it doesn’t matter who the president is; a negative book automatically attracts readers who are mad that their side lost), such as Fire and Fury by Michael Wolff and A Higher Loyalty by James Comey.

A writer can coauthor a book with James Patterson, such as The President is Missing by Bill Clinton and JAMES PATTERSON!!!!!!!

An author can work as an editor/associate for a publishing company and then have that publishing company publicize the heck out of the author’s book (while calling it “the next Gone Girl), such as The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn.

All of these strategies are effective in some way.  To me, the most annoying strategy is putting profanity in the book title.  Right now two books in the top ten of the Bestselling Books of 2018 (so far) have profanity in their titles.  One is You are a Badass by Jen Sincero, and the other is The Subtle Art of not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson.

Some might say The Subtle Art of not Giving a F*ck isn’t truly profanity because the publishing company put an asterisk in the Fuck.  That’s lame because everybody knows F*ck means Fuck.

If anything , putting the asterisk in the title hurts the author’s credibility.  If the author truly didn’t give a fuck, then Fuck would be in the title instead of F*ck.  Maybe the publishing company wouldn’t print the book with Fuck in the title, and the author didn’t give a fuck what the publishing company did as long as the book got published.

It’s funny that an author who supposedly doesn’t give a fuck works with a publisher who does.  That’s how creative people sell books, I guess.  The creative guy(gender neutral) teams up with an uptight perfectionist.  Even in that scenario, the book is based on a lie.  If the publishing company gives a fuck, it shouldn’t put out a book called The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck.  This is just another example of why I don’t trust institutions.

The book You Are a Badass is also built on a lie.  To its credit, it doesn’t fake-hide the word ass, which admittedly isn’t as bad as fuck.  It’s not super brave to put ass in a title.  The word ass is usually an insult, but sometimes it can be a compliment.  If you call someone an ass, that’s an insult.  Asshole is an insult.  Jackass is an insult.  But badass is a compliment.

The flaw with a book titled You Are a Badass is that a true badass will read the title and say, “Yeah, I know,” and walk off.  Only somebody who’s not a badass will read the book.  Somebody who is NOT a badass will read the book to see what makes a badass.  A badass either know he/she is a badass or subtly doesn’t a give a fuck.

Most of the time, profanity in a book title is a shameless (maybe desperate) way to sell books.  SHI*T My Dad Says by Mark Halprin a few years ago was okay, but the sequel was boring without much of the dad.  Go the F*CK to Sleep by Adam Mansbach was an okay idea, but it really wasn’t better than most meme humor.   Tough SH*T by Kevin Smith was the worst because it was written by a celebrity.  Any celebrity who uses profanity in the title to sell books is beyond selfish.  If you’re a celebrity and you can’t sell books without putting profanity in the title, then you suck and shouldn’t publish books.

I even told Kevin Smith that at a book signing.  I said (in my monotone voice), “I think it was very selfish of you to put profanity in your title.  You should let that be reserved for struggling first-time authors who can barely get book deals.”

You know what Kevin Smith, the author of Tough Sh*t, said to me?

I bet you could never guess what the author of Tough Sh*t said in response.

He said, “Go fuck yourself!”

Then I said, “You should have said ‘Tough SH*T,’ you overrated hack!”

And as I was getting escorted by security out of the book store, I shouted “AND YOUR BATMAN COMICS SUCKED TOO!!!”

*****

I’m kidding.  That never happened.  I’d never buy a book from a celebrity who put profanity in the book title.

Don’t get me wrong.  I’d love to write a bestselling book, but there are certain things I’m not willing to do to achieve my goal, and that includes putting profanity in my book title.

Now available on the Amazon Kindle