Monthly Archives: July 2013

alice in wonderland

5 Books you Wont Believe were Banned

Alice in Wonderland (1865)

alice in wonderland

Everyone knows the story of the girl who fell down the rabbit hole, but I wonder how many people know why the book was banned in a province in China.

In the book was banned in the Hunan Province in 1931 because it the audacity to have acting at the same level of intelligence as human beings. The regions censor General was of the opinion that allowing animals not only to speak, but to wear hats was an insult to humans everywhere. He feared that the book would have the disastrous result of leading children to treat humans and animals similarly.

 

Green Eggs and Ham (1960)

green eggs and ham

Who would have thought that a book containing just 50 different words [1] could be so controversial?

The 4th best-selling English children’s book of all time was banned in the People’s Republic of China because, and this is good, because of its portrayal of Marxism. Not only was the author so clever as to hide his insidious message of a socio-political view of socio-economic analysis based on a materialist understanding of historical progress and an analysis of class-relations within humanity and their application in a critique of the growth of capitalism, but to do it all with less than 50 words. Brilliant

The censors did eventually lift the ban almost 30 years later in 1991 after the offensive author known simply as Dr Seuss passed away.

 

Diary of Anne Frank (1947)

Diary of Anne Frank

This one is by far the most disgusting on this list, as the diary of a 13 year old Jewish girl who hid from the Nazis for two years only to be caught and die in a concentration camp was banned in Lebanon for “Portraying  Jews, Israel or Zionism favourably”, and remains banned to this day.

Other stories on the list because of this reason include “Schindlers List” and “Sophie’s Choice”[2]

 

The Da Vinci Code (2003)

the da vinci code

This book remains banned in Lebanon after the Catholic leaders in the country deemed it to be offensive to Christianity due to the inaccuracies that were rife throughout the book. Apparently this work of fiction was slanderous enough for a spokesman for the Vatican itself to speak out against the book, slamming its multitude of historical and cultural errors and demanding Christians everywhere boycott the book and the movie. After seeing the movie, I feel this is perhaps the one time I should have listened to the advice of the church.

 

Catcher in the Rye (1951)

 the catcher in the rye

J. D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye was banned in various places around the world including Australia, because it main character Holden Caulfield displayed all the characteristics that authorities hated, he drank, he smoke, and worst of all, he blasphemed!

At this time in Australia, the name of banned books were not released to the public, the books were simply seized on entry to the country.

One day, the kind Ambassador from the United States, as a good will gesture, proudly presented copies of the book to a number Australian diplomats and politicians as an example of the fine literature that was coming out of his country [3].

When this small snafu became public, there was a fair amount of public outrage, and eventually led to an overhaul of the entire censorship system in Australia, as well as the quiet unbanning of the book.

 

Sources
[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Green_Eggs_and_Ham#Lexicon
[2]http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124113399848475095.html
[3] http://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/books/array-of-banned-books-shows-australia-on-a-more-innocent-page-20130125-2dc3y.html#ixzz2MjmrH3M7

5 Books you won’t believe were Banned.

compare book prices old books

Supporting Your Local Book Shops

compare book prices old booksAs we look back on the recently finished independent booksellers week and all the press that it gathered, we have to look at ourselves as an online book and textbook retail and ask ourselves are we damaging local bookshops. Personally I have some very mixed feelings about this. I used to be an owner of a small bookshop that dealt mostly in second hand books, and I was, as most people are very proud of my little store. But over the last 10 years with the meteoric rise of the Internet, I found it harder and harder to keep my little shop afloat in a world that seems more than eager to move online and away from the local bookstore.

As much as I want to, I don’t blame people for not shopping locally, as even I have moved on to this wonderful World Wide Web where I can get all my literary needs for about half the price of what I would pay at a local bookstore. Even the major retailers are moving the majority of their business online, as the simple cost of maintaining a brick and mortar store becomes harder and harder to keep up with. When my store was on the verge of shutting down I raved and ranted at the major retailers, at Amazon and just that anyone who would stand still for long enough, I was angry but I didn’t know who to be angry at.

It seems perverse from me, someone who works for a website that sells books solely over the Internet, to try and tell people that they should be supporting their local bookstore’s, undo. Scratch that, it is perverse and entirely hypocritical, but I’m going to do it anyway and here’s why. People have been decrying that the end of books is nigh on the age of the digital media is already here, but let’s be honest who doesn’t prefer the feel of a good honest book in their hands over holding a tablet or ereader. My eyes still gets sore after only an hour or two squinting at my iPad or Kindle. There is no real substitute physical book.

Compare Book Prices

So while books are here to stay to just a little bit longer, so too should your local bookstore. But bookstores in your local area need to realise that they simply can’t compete with the prices of books online and need to act accordingly. Local bookstore’s need to play to their strengths, let people come in sit down somewhere and read a chapter or two, offered them a free drink of tea or coffee and employ reasonable intelligence staff that no when people want help and when people just want to be left alone.

One of the best ideas that I’ve ever seen is from the one remaining second hand bookstore in my area. They offer a box of free lollipops that sit next to a box of free children’s books, and while the books are necessarily in the best condition, the kids don’t care they have a lolly and something to read.

There is no online substitute for a real honest to goodness community fall of knowledgeable welcoming people.

The Picture of Dorian Gray

Oscar Wilde

Oscar Wilde

Oscar Fingal O’Flahertie Wills Wilde, born on the 16th of October 1854 in Dublin, Ireland, is only second to Shakespeare as the most oft quoted author in the English speaking world. His razor sharp wit combined with his majestically elegant prose to tell us some of the greatest stories of all time.

He was a voracious playwright, but to many his greatest work outside of plays is undoubtedly his only novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray. Dorian Gray is the story of a young man who sells his soul away for the promise of eternal youth and perpetual beauty. Told with Wilde’s fantastic wit and magical prose, the book caused a national outrage when it was first published in 1890, for the hedonism and  decadence contained in the novel as well as its supposed homosexual overtones, even though the 1890 version was censored heavily before it was ever printed.

Sadly, this grand book spurred many members of the public to attack Wilde and his  “homosexual agenda”, leading to the arrest of Mr Wilde and his good friend and supposed lover Alfred Taylor in 1895 for Sodomy and Gross Indecency. Wilde was sentenced to 2 years hard labour. During his time in jail performing hard labour, he passed out and ruptured his ear drum upon the chapel floor, an injury that is said to have lead directly to his contracting cerebral meningitis and subsequent death a few years later.

When Oscar Wilde died in Paris in 1900, he died completely destitute and penniless.

When you compare books written today to Mr Wilde’s writing you will find that his writing stands up remarkably well, a good hundred years after they were written, which cannot be said for all of the work to come out of that time.

The Picture of Dorian Gray
The Picture of Dorian Gray

Any modern assessment of the man is sure to mention his great charm and incredible wit, but he was so much more than a clever man with a flair for writing. He created some of the most memorable and colorful characters in modern literary history. His willingness to play and venture into the worlds of the heretofore unknown have rightfully earned him a place in the history books as one of the greatest authors, not only of his time, but of all time.

Whilst his writing can seem somewhat impenetrable and obtuse, with a little persistence many modern readers find that with a bit of help, the efforts required to fall in love with the man are more than worth the time invested.

He was probably the first man to be tried and sentenced by an angry public, spurred on by a media with an agenda. The public fury whipped up against him mighty pall to what seems so regular today, but his sexual proclivities made him a pariah, and in histories eyes, perhaps a venerable one.

Book Art

We recently had a friendly user by the name of Pete Smith send us a number of fantastic pictures that he found of books being used as a medium for some terribly clever art. Whether or not Mr Smith made these I don’t know but they really have to be seen to be believed.

Compare Book Prices Book Mountain Art

 

Such a clever way to make some used books look even better than they normally do.Compare Book Prices Book ART