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  1. #1

    Default Do you have any desire to own controversial books?

    Similar to the debate about whether or not "you are what you read", you know how in the aftermath of an arrest of someone who has done something atrocious or been planning something atrocious details of the individual's reading habits can be made public.

    If a book has a certain rep or is associated with controversy or possibly government tracks, such as Kurt Saxon's Poor Man's James Bond or Abbie Hoffman's Steal This Book or William Powell's Anarchist Cookbook, would you have any desire to read it or own it what so ever or would you simply feel you dont want or need it anyway?

    I had thought about expanding this a little to other mediums, I had an uncle who had a VHS copy of Evil Dead throughout its banned years for instance, but I think I'll stick to books for the time being. If this is posted in the wrong place mods feel free to move it.

  2. #2
    Senior Member Snoopy22's Avatar
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    Dec 2008
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    I never considered the Anarchist Cookbook any more controversial then owning chemistry books or the Physicians Desk Reference.

  3. #3
    Starcrossed Seafarer Aquarelle's Avatar
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    Jun 2010


    Hmmm... which books are considered controversial? And do you mean, do we desire to own them because they are controversial, or despite their controversiality?

    For awhile (and probably still), the Harry Potter books were considered controversial in some religious circles. I had a desire to own them because they are good books, despite their controversiality in some people's minds.

    At one point I had a copy of the Book of Mormon, which I did purchase at a used book sale, partly because having grown up going to a Christian church, it was slightly controversial for me to own, although I never told anyone in my church, and my family wouldn't have cared. But mostly I bought it out of curiosity.
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  4. #4
    Honor Thy Inferior Such Irony's Avatar
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    I wouldn't own a book just because it's controversial. I would have to be interested in the content to purchase it. I don't think I own anything I'd considered overly controversial but I do own several books that people commonly try to ban from libraries because they find it offensive for whatever reason. Examples being Huckleberry Fin, A Catcher in the Rye, The Color Purple, and the Harry Potter series.

    I don't own it but it I did read parts of Mein Kampf out of curiosity.
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  5. #5
    nee andante bechimo's Avatar
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    Aug 2010


    Controversy doesn't make me want to own or read something more. More the question would be, is it a worthwhile read? If so, then yes, I will read it. If it's an excellent read, I'll own it to reread again and again.

  6. #6
    morose bourgeoisie
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    Mar 2009


    Whether a book in controversial never enters my mind. I just want to know what it says.

    Controversy is context dependent. Possessing the Bible might get you killed in Pakistan. I'm sure my cavalier attitude about this is entirely generated be the fact that I live in a place and time where I am granted a lot of freedom.

  7. #7
    Blah Orangey's Avatar
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    Jun 2008


    Sure, I'd read a controversial book sheerly for the fact that it's controversial. Why not? It's just one among the many reasons that I might choose to pick up and read a book.
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  8. #8
    Administrator highlander's Avatar
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    Is Madame Bovary still controversial?

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  9. #9


    I dont think I'd want to buy a book because it was controversial or taboo, maybe it was different when I was a teenager, I remember reading Chomsky because I'd heard he was an anarchist and being pretty authoritarian in my teens it was kind of taboo. I read a lot of anarchist books after that, I can honestly say that it did influence my thinking but not necessarily in terms of adopting their ideas. My reading became way more expansive after that, without my becoming what is frequently described as open minded (but which I consider more akin to indecisive or persuadeable).

    I've owned more books inspite of or despite controversy rather than because of controversy, there's still some books I'll refuse to own or read some of them are controversial but its not necessarily because of the controversy, I either dont like the ideas I know are contained in the books or suspect its not the sort of writing I'd be interested in (I'm thinking of things like The Turner Diaries, Mein Kampf and the like).

    Although since creating this thread I've had some interesting discussions with friends to the effect that I probably own an entire library of books which would have at one time been prohibited to own in Taliban territory or in a different time and context been on the RCC list of profane literature.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2009
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    No, I own Henry Miller's Tropic of Capricorn because I love it and think it's one of the most moving, real pieces of literature ever ... it's what would happen if plot had a porn (instead of if porn had a plot.) I don't give a shit that it was banned in all English speaking countries for over twenty years.

    Who cares about that kind of thing? Teenagers who want to rebel and fundamentalist Christians who still think book burning is a sane passtime?

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