The book Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House by author Michael Wolff is generating a lot of controversy worldwide. For those who don’t care for the current president, the book confirms all their worst fears and suspicions; while those who support Mr. Trump are proclaiming the book as lies and “fake news”. Many of the patrons coming to our desks are asking whether or not the library will be carrying the book; while other patrons have expressed their hope that TBPL doesn’t. This is not the only book to illustrate concerns about the administration. Recent releases have included Matt Taibbi’s Insane Clown President: Dispatches from the 2016 Circus; Donna Brazile’s Hacks: The Inside Story of the Break-ins and Breakdowns that Put Donald Trump in the White House and David Johnston’s The Making of Donald Trump. It was the White House’s vehement reaction to the book that make it a must read, for as an inside source of information and scandal. Mr. Trump through his personal lawyer, went so far as trying to prevent the publication of the book. Currently, we have the book “on order” and we would be happy to place a hold on a copy for you.
Oddly, this isn’t the first book that the library has chosen to carry that has generated a lot of both positive and negative press. Back in 1992, our library, our library board and the city of Thunder Bay were embroiled in months of controversy when we purchased a number of copies of the recently released book by Madonna called Sex. The coffee table size volume was a huge, metal bound book of photographs and short bits of erotica and poetry. Excitement and anger about the book ran like wildfire through the media for months prior the release of the book and the hold list to take a peek and sign out one of our copies ran for nearly a year. Despite our best efforts to maintain the book, many times the book was returned a page or two missing as a patron extracted a souvenir. When the books were finally removed from the collection, it wasn’t censorship but that they were now in too damaged to circulate.
Another title the generated a lot of curiosity and anger was Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses. The novel, which was released in 1988, begins with a terrorist bombing of a London-bound jet while in flight that results in two actors being transformed into embodiments of good and evil. The novel garnered great acclaim with critics, but its descriptions so angered the Iranian government and Ayatollah Khomeini that a “fatwa” or “order to kill” was issued against Rushdie. The author has been in hiding until recently and still lives under a death warrant. If you are interested in this novel, the library currently has a number of copies available.
Every year Thunder Bay Public Library holds events to commemorate “Freedom to Read Week”, which this year runs February 25 to March 3. The purpose of the week is to support works that have been banned or challenged and to celebrate the Intellectual Freedom that we enjoy as Canadians. The list of books that have been banned or challenged has included everything from the Bible (which is the most challenged item across the world) to Dr. Suess. In past years, we have chained books in cages, wrapped them in caution tape and had library staff pose for mug shot photos with their favourite challenged title.
Finally, to quote noted author Isaac Asimov, “Any book worth banning is a book worth reading.”
Lori Kauzlarick– www.tbpl.ca. If you have a comment about today’s column, we would love to hear from you. Please comment below!