We’re with the Banned

I take a lot of guff for extolling the virtues of Entertainment Weekly as a readers’ advisory tool when I conduct workshops. I always said that my dream job is to work for them. They have intelligent and insightful things to say about books, particularly books that aren’t getting enough attention.

EW has employed one of the greatest writers of our time, Stephen King, to comment regularly on popular culture. Mr. King makes a habit of including books and reading trends in his columns, reminding many subscribers that books have always been a part of American popular culture.

In the October 3 issue, there are two shout outs to books near and dear to librarians’ hearts. On the letters page, Mr. King responds to a reader who has more affection for those kings of the noir thriller, Lee Child and Michael Connelly, than she does for the queens of chick lit. He writes that leisure reading is not bound by gender, “ladies have every right to enjoy the exploits of Jack Reacher and Harry Bosch…just as I have every right to enjoy Nora Roberts. Genre fiction is NOT unisex.”

The second kudo came from my new favorite pundita of pop, Diablo Cody. Ms. Cody devotes a column to the Mother of the Banned, Judy Blume.  Ms. Cody notes, with dead on accuracy, that Ms. Blume’s characters are real girls with real problems and sometimes real dumb ways to deal with them. Just like real kids everywhere.

It would be very easy to suggest a book group devote a session to the pre-teen novels of Judy Blume and hash over what memories surface from a rereading. Consider taking it a step further. Re-read a favorite Blume novel, or one that escaped your notice when you were a struggling pre-teen with real problems, and look for those parts that have made the content questionable for some parents. Is it still questionable? What is it that some parents find disturbing? Could these books be written today with the same subject matter or are they products of their times?

Join the Banned this week and talk about the books.

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About the Author:

Kaite Mediatore Stover refuses to give up her day job as director of readers' services for The Kansas City Public Library to read tarot cards professionally or be the merch girl/roadie for her husband's numerous bands. Follow her on Twitter at @MarianLiberryan.

5 Comments on "We’re with the Banned"

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  1. misha.stone@spl.org' misha says:

    Kaite, I totally share your EW love! If you hadn’t noticed, I also am a devotee and make mention of the King columns on BGB. And not just because some weeks I struggle to find subjects to blog about (I do)–EW really is a great resource for readers, and pop culture junkies in general. Maybe not as good as Booklist, mind you, but a nice compliment…

  2. Kaite says:

    Just think. When the National Enquirer starts reviewing books, we’ll have to use THAT as a tool for collection development. Hee.

  3. gweiswasser@gmail.com' Gayle says:

    I love EW too. I’ve been reading it since it launched and I quote from it all the time on my blog. Plus, until recently I found the books section to be a great source for finding new novels. I haven’t been as enamored since the redesign, though. I also am not a fan of Stephen King or his columns, but Diablo Cody’s recent one on Judy Blume was excellent!

  4. Kaite says:

    King can be hit or miss. For me, he mostly hits the target. But when he misses? Wiff!!

  5. I totally agree! I also think that EW has lots of insightful things to say about books and how they impact popular culture. I think that adding Stephen King to the EW roster was one of the wisest decisions they ever made; I think that it has caused readers to take what it being said more seriously since it is coming from such a widely respected author. While other people might be able to say the same thing as King, I think that it holds more weight in the public’s eyes because it’s coming from a renowned author.

    Also, good suggestion about what to do with Blume’s books; I think that following your suggestion could also be a good starting point for writers who are looking for good memoir material. Blume has a way of placing all of us smack dab back into our pre-teen and teenage years.

    Thanks for writing this post; glad to hear that others share the same view about EW!

    – The Wandering Reader

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