Critical Linking: August 30, 3014

The supermarket chain Aldi has withdrawn Roald Dahl’s classic children’s book Revolting Rhymes from its Australian stores following a complaint on its Facebook page.

An Aldi spokeswoman said the book had been pulled after “comments by a limited number of concerned customers regarding the language used in this particular book”. Other books by the legendary British children’s author will continue to be stocked, she said.

So a few customers complain on Aldi Australia’s Facebook page and the company pulls a book from its shelves? Okay then.

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Fortunately, novels have long been mostly exempt from the perennial argument that media can induce young people into dangerous behaviors. In fact, more often than not, you see books held up as a counter-example to those concerned about negative influences (mostly violence) in video games, movies or music. Last year, when Jim Carrey “distanced himself” from the violent Kick-Ass 2 in the wake of Sandy Hook, executive producer Mark Millar said he “never quite bought the notion that violence in fiction leads to violence in real life any more than Harry Potter casting a spell creates more boy wizards in real life.” Shakespeare is another one that gets held up a lot — Shakespeare is violent! Is he causing school shootings? Well, of course not — in part because literature is less visceral in some ways than film and video games and even music, so the arguments tend to be less visceral too. Books sometimes get mentioned as part of the list of media that could be a “risk factor,” but have mostly been off the hook. And that’s a good thing. If we start banning books with violence and sex in them (er, again), we’ll lose more than if we ban violent video games. Not that we should ban either, mind you.

It is interesting to me that this particular study offered no pre-reading measurements for control and that it focused exclusively on women. Flavorwire’s takedown on why books can’t be faulted for dangerous behavior is solid.

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He says some of his favorite stores have been in buildings converted from other uses. Examples include Elliot Bay Books in Seattle, Washington, which used to be an auto repair shop, and the Tattered Cover in Denver, Colorado, which has a location in a former theater.

“You can see, OK, here’s the lobby, the theater boxes, the pit orchestra, the stage,” Manson says. “You can just see the theater, and now it’s filled with books.”

He’s also visited many bookstores not on his original list — shop owners keep telling him of other stores they love.

Bob Manson is living the book lover’s dream: visiting independent bookstores all across America.

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Great examples of street art and murals about reading, books, and libraries.

 

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