Apparently this 22nd to 28th September is a Banned Book Week and naturally readers all around were looking up banned books to read. But usually in the United States, their definition of banned/challenged books are quite relaxed and more to poking fun at people who ban them. While cases in US mostly around seizure of student’s reading materials and book banning in schools, they’re not exactly restricted by actual persecution and publication printing ban like us. Its more a problem of owning them and distributing them. (BTW, still saying no to e-reading? read on)
While I am not all out on a crusade to read all kinds of banned books in this list (albeit most of them was mostly about local printing and publication, popular alternative Islamic non-fiction and laughably bad pornographic books which I don’t read nor have an interest to read), however this kind of stuff does happen and you’ll know when these laws being being abused by certain people for certain ways, you’ll really start to wonder if we’re heading to a full V for Vendetta-like situation where the government could raid your house and persecute you for having prohibitive materials. Oh wait. Of course, that was a unique situation around ‘religion sensitivity’ which I won’t venture on but point is, it could escalate really badly.
Don’t worry, you’re not in an actual danger if you read them. You cannot brainwash people mind or unread things. Fortunately, that can only happen in Science Fiction. But luckily, as a reader, we still have our own freedom to read and read is what you should.
For me, despite my endless currently-reading materials, I’m going to read Anthony Burgess’ The Malayan Trilogy which consisted of three books (Time for a Tiger, The Enemy in the Blanket and Beds in the East) which was about the life an expatriate history teacher in Malaya which also a pseudo-biography of Burgess himself as a teacher and educational officer in Malaya. The book have been gazetted by the ministry several times to be banned but nowadays you could still find this version of the book still available in chain bookstores so technically its not officially banned but appropriately challenged. I guess the reason of the banning is due to Burgess social commentary on the then-pre-Merdeka government and corruption (which obviously doesn’t say much about our time either). I still like think his “Clockwork Orange” were somehow influenced by his time in Malaya in the 50s as Nadsat and Manglish does share similarities. (I could dream okay.)
So, like someone said, banned book is just another word for “recommended reading” and any negative publicity is a positive publicity. Just take up any banned book and try to see whether its worth to be read or not, whether the contents are supposedly harm the virtue or the mind’s sensitivity or something. Of course, if you’re paranoid, use Tor to find these books in ebooks, read and then delete them out of sight and then write about your experience of reading dangerously.
“What is freedom of expression? Without the freedom to offend, it ceases to exist.”
― Salman Rushdie
“Because all books are forbidden when a country turns to terror. The scaffolds on the corners, the list of things you may not read. These things always go together.”
― Philippa Gregory, The Queen’s Fool
On the other matter during this Banned Book Week, Goodreads decided to update their review policy which cause a lot of reviewers who hadn’t left Goodreads right after the Amazon takeover were now amassing to other alternative sites and starting to backup all of their reviews in hurry before they’re unceremoniously deleted which began with this drama and this is the helpful real simplified form of everything from the forum ;
Now there were folks with the shelf including ANY words starting with “due-to-author” or “author-behaving-badly” and alike was deleted along with reviews. I know the mods trying to reassure that they’re giving emails to folks affected but so far I saw status updates noticing reviewers noticing the lost of their reviews (positive and negative too). Yes, I could hear the scream of joys of STRGB cyberstalkers and some ‘I cant accept negative reviews and my readers suck’ authors.
Which mean, it affected me too. It is worrisome because I haven’t keep track on the amount of reviews I did and Goodreads have been a place where I kept all of my book reviews as a catalogue since I could choose the way my reviews will be published while multiple postings in my blog can be spammy surprisingly a turnoff to my existing pool of blog readers. But whatever it is, I started several backup sites for all my reviews which is surprisingly easy on other places except my existing book blog (which I’ve neglected this month, yes, I noticed).
I won’t be leaving Goodreads completely but their deleting policy against several known reviewers does slap some sense that Goodreads wont always be as it was before and right now. Yes, I saw the mortality of their site the moment they choose to do as they fit with some reviews based on the shelf. I guess its their mistake but its a done deal. Reviewers ARE leaving their site. The same reviewers that attract readership and community that made them infamous book site ever and now they’re trying to impose random persecution on their 1% reviewers.
Your end is coming and its showing.
However, I do have several book sites which I kept an account,
One of them was Riffle which was much like a booksite the interface of pinterest which was a bit too simplistic for an effective book social networking. I sort of left Riffle to let them phase out the beta into a mature functioning site with proper book catalogue with more choices with edition like Goodreads and the ability to review instead of just listing out books by cover but I haven’t seen that happening these few months so it doesn’t look all that promising.
I do have Shelfari account way before I had Goodreads but its getting even harder to escape the Amazon sphere with this site. I do have a Kindle but unlike Goodreads, is still largely a boring site as a social network. Problem is, I can’t export the csv file into this database so yes, this account is rotting and I’ve already deactivate it by the time I wrote this sentence. Primary evidence that Amazon killing book sites.
In memory. 2008-2013.
Then, so with our predicament, I’ve created LibraryThing account and Booklikes and export all of my reviews into them as backup. LibraryThing surprisingly easy to use despite looking so Edelweiss-like with their review program. Problem is, Edelweiss is pretty much US-centric site. Which is problematic as an international reviewer like me. But as far as reviews goes, its still a good place as any.
As for Booklikes, there are some people uncomfortable about the Goodreads exodus into their sites and already we’re labelled as “Goodreads trolls” or something. I’m sad 😦 but I still need a place to branch out my reviews database. Yes, this will mean I’ll be updating my Netgalley site and yes, I will post up my older reviews on this blog by scheduled daily postings. Problem is, it will mix up with my recent reads too.
Oh…. Requiem for Goodreads. I should have known why I kept hearing Requiem for a Dream’s music while thinking up the name of this blog.
By the way, if you’re asking how to import all of your reviews from the site. Its quite easy actually. Go to “My Books” and you’ll find this links at the bottom or just click here.
Then go to “Export to a csv file” and you’ll download all your reviews, your shelves and stuff into a .csv file. Then you can use it on both Library Things and Booklikes.
Does it work on my WP blog? Probably not but it is one of the ways to completely backup your reviews. So far, I haven’t had anyone flagging my reviews but I don’t want to wait for it. For an average 1000 words review, I did spent a couple hours on it. I have a lot of history with my personal writings being stolen or wrecked in a laptop and I certainly won’t risk my public writings because of one paranoid self-pub author who can’t read a shelf name properly and assume it was a death threat on her and pull a Stephenie Meyer’s “Midnight Sun” antic. Fortunately, whatever she does, it brought her publicity. Unfortunately for her, nobody is going to read her book since didn’t want to publish her book. Either she hope all this drama would help her get pick up by a publisher or a movie, well good luck with that.
As for the rest of us who don’t even want to get mix up with this drama and unfortunately did get mixed up, May the odds be ever in your favour. Back up your writings.