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Wednesday, December 03, 2008



I agree that literature can help us experience and process life happenings. Because of images and ideas stick in my mind, I like being forewarned if there are questionable elements of a book. Sometimes I will still read the book - just depends on the state of my spirit & the rest of my life.


We should never be afraid of ideas or thinking.


I always think of the book police as a slippery slope, maybe you should just keep Fahrenheit 451 recommendation shelf?

jamie `

I missed this post last night when I was reading so my reply this morning to your reply probably didn't make any sense so disregard :) somehow I skipped over this post from the gift of words to the laundry confessions and thanksgiving recap. I didn't notice this one! maybe it had something to do with the time I was up reading!

now for my actual comment:
I really like reading your thoughts on this. I agree with Jenna's comment. I like to be forewarned because I'm not a good one for skipping over or not noticing the swearing. It seems to really affect me and stay in my head in not good ways. I have lots of family members who have your reading philosophy and easily skip over. Wish I was one because you're right, it limits me. I think it's important to realize what affects your spirit and take precautions but also to remember that it doesn't necessarily mean the same thing to someone else.

I really liked the distinction you made regarding how an author uses sex. whether it is part of telling the story or everything is leading to it and the B. Young quote.

as usual, a very thought-provoking post.


Sometimes the overall feel of a book is what is important. And I guess I feel that so far, I haven't ran out of really good books that have been recommended to me that are pretty clean--so I don't have to bother reading books with a lot of swearing because I have other stuff to read, and I prefer books that don't swear or have sex scenes in it. Really good writing is probably much less important to me than it is to you, but that is totally just how I am and how I like to read.

But I don't think we should judge people at all for what they read. Sometimes I read things that aren't squeaky clean, and those books can be really good and worth reading. It just matter who you are, and what affects you.

Great post.


What a lovely and articulate post. Thanks for standing up for good literature!


I know, I often even forget the bad language or a scene until after I've recommended it, blush.


Here, here! Two cheers for Amy for saying what I can't or couldn't or haven't. You know me & my reading tastes, and they are the same as yours (with a few variances.) But I can't agree more. There are so many, many stories out there, and very few of them are written by people within a certain moral code. It's hard for me to imagine limiting myself to one type of book, because that is what I would be doing: limiting myself. From the stories, the realities, the worlds that I can learn from, that will strenghten my ability to reason out MY story.

Thank you for taking the time to write this lovely, thoughtful post. You've said what I can't. And I love you for it!


I like what you wrote, Amy. I'm on the more conservative side of reading choices, similar to how Jamie described. I do have to say that I don't feel that being this way limits me, though. I have had enough exposure to so many aspects of life in other ways, and I know I will continue to do so. I think I take my opinion on this for ME because of an R rated movie I saw once. The story was good, informative, but the sex scene was way too gratuitous for me (it left me with flashbacks for a while!). I left the movie regretting seeing it and really strongly feeling that aside from the specific details of the story, there wasn't much I hadn't learned before on PBS in a less graphic manner. So I guess what I mean by all of this is, I don't think you're immoral for reading more graphic stuff than me (language usually doesn't bug me, btw), and I hope you don't think I'm pathetically LIMITED because I have to be picky about what I read because of the effect things have on me.

I love that Brigham Young quote. I love you, too!

Andrea Adams

I am right there with you- one of the things I love the most about my mother is that while there was definite censorship of movies- there was never any censorship of books. I have continued that philosophy with my own children. I rarely remember any of the objectionable material, either. Books open our minds to so much more than what we can think on our own. I love reading for just those reasons- it expands my world and my mind. And I know there are bad books- for many of the reasons you stated- bad plots, poor writing, gratuitous sex, etc. Thanks for stating this so eloquently.


Excellent post and not just because I agree with you 1000%. Well thought-out, explained and supported. I'm seriously impressed.

As for recommending books, I do know how you feel. I feel with every book review I do, I need to mention any sex, language, violence etc., not because it's important to the book but because enough people base their choices on whether or not any of the above is included in the content. Sometimes I feel limited in my three or four paragraphs mentioning something that isn't even what the book is about, but, like some of your commenters here have said, reading is so very different for different people.

I think we could have some great discussions, by the way. And I wish you were my English teacher.


I share your reading philosophy and I am looking forward to discussing the idea of personal reading philosophies with my book group friends. Thanks for this post and for your eloquence here and in general - I love to read what you write.


Amy, you are NOT immoral... shame on those people for being so judgemental! I totally agree with you on this subject. Way to go... expressing your feelings! YOU ROCK!


I love this post. I have to admit, I almost never recommend books to others because I'm scared to offend people. Most of the books that have really affected me contain "questionable" things. You mentioned A Handmaid's Tale, which is one of my favorites. That story couldn't have been told without the sex. And that's just one of many that prove your point.

So I agree with you. I wish I had the guts to stand up for myself like you have. I think my whole family finds me immoral because of my choices in books and movies. Maybe I should share the Brigham Young quote with them?

If only I had more time to read right now, I'd have you recommend some good books...


Very well said! I think people who would reject a book and deem it immoral based on sex and swearing are spiritually lazy. Do they really think that the difference between right or wrong good or bad is a single word? That seems too simple an answer when faith and striving are such complex issues.


It depresses me when people are unable to see past surface "immoralities" (sex! swearing! golly gosh!) to deeper moral truths, or considerations, or experiences, or whatever. Seriously, people; try breaking out of your bubbles sometime. You might find you actually learn something.

(Am I just restating your point in less eloquent, more cranky terms? Sorry.)

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