Thursday, October 9, 2008

Outraged of Tunbridge Wells

Occasionally a library book will upset a customer due to its, ahem...content. I remember an elderly woman shouting about unnecessary references to the male member in what she'd assumed was a harmless story about horses. She thought it should be removed in case it fell into the wrong hands (the book not the male member, for heaven's sake.)

Of course we're not there to make judgements about the stories on them there shelves, but common sense prevails. We're not allowed to stock men's magazines like Zoo and Nuts due to the proliferation of brazen hussies lolling on the covers in frosted lipstick (and not much else), and ex Big Brother contestants talking about getting mobbed in nightclubs and having boob jobs - which is fair enough. But we can hardly go through all the books, scribbling out rude words.

Once, someone kindly stuck a Post-it note inside a book, pointing out various uses of the F-word and which passages to avoid, which was quite thoughtful. Customers have ripped out pages they've found repellent before now, which isn't so good. Especially for the reader left wondering what happened and whether they're going to get blamed.

Today's offender was Crown Jewels in the Sun by Nora Roberts. On pages 104 and 105 someone had written in pen, "for gods sake", "kick him in the balls" and "ugh!!" as the heroine was taken masterfully by the rather overbearing hero. We couldn't work out if the reader was a feminist horrified by such boorish behaviour, or someone who prefers decent writing. (Mee-OW!)

Or an ex-editor perhaps....

Anyway, the writing style rather reminded me of the Mills and Boons I used to devour as a teenager, when men were forever "thrusting their manhood" at a lady's "sex."

I don't know how I survived in the real world.


Pat Posner said...

LOL, Karen
It was the male's "throbbing velvet sheath" that always made me giggle.

Juliette M said...

Writing in pen in books which are not meant to be written on turns ME into Mrs Outraged of Northolt.

if you don't like it, don't keep reading it, quite frankly. Like the woman who kicked up a stink when she found the word 'twat' in the Jacqueline Wilson YA novel My Sister Jodie. It was censored for sales in Asda, and changed to 'twit'. Mind you, I have a weird copy of the novel, where the dangerous, sleazy gardener Jed says 'twit' and then on the very next page Jodie still says 'twat'. Twice. Hah. Your censorship is made of fail, Asda.

I used to love Mills and Boon books Clarkey, but they were hugely embarrassing at the same time. :)

Calistro said...

Oh dear. If/when my book is published I think you'll have to keep it away from the offended dears as the F-word appears quite frequently! I'd be most miffed if someone scribbled over my book or, horror or horrors, ripped out pages!

Annie Bright said...

Hee Hee Karen, I really think you ought to get that 'life of a librarian book' written. It would be such a funny book if it was written by your good self! :-)

HelenMH said...

People really shouldn't cross out words in books because they don't like them. A tippex mouse makes a much neater job :)

Debs said...

Poor old lady, I wonder which book that was?

Honestly, you'd think that if they didn't like the book, all they had to do was close the damn thing.

Your job sounds so much more fun than mine.

Lane said...

Someone once underlined something very faintly in a book once and I was intrigued as to why. It was nothing special but it obviously meant something to them.

But writing in library books?? Oh dear oh dear:-(

Lily Sheehan said...

Some people should just stick to the childrens books if they are going to be so sensitive. What they are doing is offensive passing their views onto others!! Sorry I just really cant stand people who censor for adults!!

Fionnuala said...

If I ever get published I may outrage the nation - oh well. x

liz fenwick said...

Still chuckling here! Those throbbing members and such!!!

I think its so wrong what ASDaA did I think the fault actually lies with the editors on JW case. She read by a very yound audience and they pick up words and start throwing them around without knowing the meaning. I remember explaining to my boys a while ago what there actually saying and their faces were a site to behold :-)

And the just finished books is littered with naughty words spoken by and equally naughty teen but then it is not intended for smalls...

Tam said...

We had a related conversation the other day, when I was saying I'd probably use a pen name if I wrote an adult book and my own name for any children's books because I wouldn't want a child to get confused and buy an adult book by mistake, only to be confronted with throbbing members.

As for "throbbing velvet sheath", it presents a rather alarming image. I'd certainly be tempted to vandalise a book if I found something like that in it...

Honeysuckle said...

They're talking about age guidance for children's books - maybe what we need more urgently is a sensitivity rating for adults, so those aged gents and ladies won't feel the need to damage the books. Actually I think some of them pick up the risque ones on purpose because they're on a crusade to rid the world of filth.
Which is worse, I wonder, using rude words or library vandalism?

Dumdad said...

Oh, go on add me to your new blogroll - I might be back sooner than people think (Shhhhhh, as you librarians might say, that's an exclusive, as journalists like me might say).

womagwriter said...

Do you think the people ripping out pages in books are keeping them for future reference?

I heard a sweet story about writing in library books once. My step-grandfather enjoyed Western novels, and one day met someone with the same interest. They found they both borrowed books from the same library. The man commented that he looked for books marked A1 in pencil in the front cover - obviously someone else had read and enjoyed the ones so marked, so they'd be good choices. My step-grandfather then owned up that his initials were AI, and that he marked books so he knew he'd read them.

Am telling you all this for your librarian memoirs book, you understand!

Cait O'Connor said...

Yes... some borrowers think books should be X-rated don't they?

Fiona said...

Oh dear, I once kept - stole - a libary book. I was thirteen and the book was the Virgin Soldiers.I thought it was the rudest book I'd ever read and lent it to all my friends.
Please don't tell on me. I'm very, very sorry and if I ever find said book, I'll return it to Woking Libary. Honest.

juliemt said...

Karen, Nora Roberts used to write for Silhouette, an imprint that is actually owned by Harlequin Mills and Boon. I think that Nora book was written during the time where she was writing both single titles and romances, so maybe that's the reason why you might have thought that you were reading an M&B.

By the way, I still read M&B and with so many series now being published, I am sure that if you picked one up, you'd be pleasantly surprised! I think you'd quite enjoy the titles published in the pink Romance line.

SpiralSkies said...

Sniggering like a silly teen at the throbbing members. I can't believe that people used to think like that - tell me it's not true!

I love the idea of some dusty old dear having a revelation after reading something proper saucy! Whey hey!

Sarah*G* said...

At least it was just words they wrote. I got a book out, I forget what it was called, and some bright spark had drawn pictures of male genitalia on several pages. Kind of put me off reading!

wordtryst said...

LOL! Poor Nora. Writing sex is harder than it looks - trying to steer a course between the antiquated and cutesy metaphors, the matter-of-fact anatomically correct (and not at all romantic)descriptions, and the crude language of some erotica.

I did use the f-word a couple times in my first book, but the editor tactfully removed all traces. I was sort of grateful, mostly on account of the thought of my family reading the thing. It's embarrassing enough having a writer in the family; a potty-mouthed one would be too, too humiliating!

Debs said...

There's an award for you over at mine. x

Leigh said...

You can't write in books; that's sacrilege!
Books Are People.

But, I say, doesn't everyone know that FUCK is simply a typo for FCUK? God, some people...

(The word verification for this comment is "bukdcs" which feels vaguely obscene in itself...)

Karen said...

patp - Oo-er I'd forgotten that one (blush) !

juliette m - At least with pencil you can rub it out. I loved M&B too - Anne Mather was my fave author :o)

calistro - They don't seem to object so much to the F word - it's the rudeness they don't like. Ripping pages out is definitely Not On though :o(

annie bright - A librarian's (sorry, library assistant's) life is surprisingly interesting at times!

helenmh - Tell me you're not guilty of Tippex Crime ?!

debs - I can't remember now - I know it was off the large print shelf. If it had been normal print, she wouldn't have noticed!

lane - We've noticed underlining
that doesn't bear relation to anything! Maybe it's the same person?

lily - I prefer to think they were drunk or something at the time. Surely no-one sober would go to such lengths??

liz fenwick - Some of those M&B terms were quite confusing :oO I'm quite sqeamish about using swear words in my writing - I keep imagining my mother looking over my shoulder!

fionnuala - At least it'll get everyone talking :o)

Tam - I think if I wrote a 'rude' book I'd have to leave the country - the thought of my family reading it makes me shudder!

honeysuckle - I love the idea of a sensitivity rating for adults! Maybe it could be an image of a lady swooning in the corner?

Vandalism is definitely worse.

dumdad - Oh, alright then :o)

womagwriter - What a lovely story! I wouldn't mind that happening at all :o)

cait o'connor - Trouble is, how do we know which ones?!

fiona - Ooh, I remember my friend and I poring over The Virgin Soldiers - it belonged to her dad! Dear me. I'll overlook the stolen library book on this occasion :o)

juliemt - Ah I didn't know that - it does explain things! I do have a flip through the new M&B as they come in the library, but must admit I haven't read one for yonks. I tried to write one once and it was much, much harder than I thought :o)

spiralskies - It's the old ladies (and gents) who borrow the Black Lace books that make me smile - they practically chuck them on the counter and never make eye contact!

sarah *g* - Oh dear - that's much worse! The thought of it has almost put me off my dinner!

wordtryst - I daren't even try writing sex scenes, so I applaud her for that. As for swear words - I can't get past the image of my mother reading them!

debs - Ooh, thank you! I'm on my way over...

leigh - I don't think I've ever written in a book in my life. I don't even fold the corners of pages down. Those verification letters are a bit dodgy sometimes!

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