29 September 2010

Day 186: Gerald's Game

Gerald's Game by Stephen King.  ISBN: 9780670846504.

There are some books that don't belong in school libraries.  I will agree with that.  If any book didn't belong in a school library, even a high school library, it was probably Gerald's Game.  I am not saying I'm for banning.  I'm saying that this particular book probably should never have been purchased for the school it was banned from to begin with.  I'm sure some seniors could tackle it and handle a lot of the psychological issues presented very well...

Most of the eighteen-year-olds that I knew probably would have giggled so much over the idea of a woman being handcuffed to the bed for sexcapades and then kicking her husband in the balls that they wouldn't have gotten much further than that once they realized he dies and she stayed tied up for most of the book (this is not a spoiler, it happens in the first 20 pages).

Would I keep this in the public library?  Yes.  Definitely.  I would even allow high school students to check it out.  But high school libraries should carry materials more targeted towards the enrichment of minds, or at the very least fiction about issues that teens are likely to face.  This one was probably more an issue of poor collection development rather than outright censorship.  Although, it's entirely likely that this book had been sitting on the shelves for all of 10 years before some kid in 2002 picked it up because s/he had read all of the previous Stephen King books in the collection.  Or maybe it was recently donated and because of all the tax cuts (or lack of tax raises) that I'm sure Texas has voted for, they didn't even have a school librarian or anyone even vaguely familiar with popular literature.  This book might have been thrown on the shelves by someone who only had experience shelving without a thought to its place in the collection.

Yes, librarians do technically censor in their collection development.  Not because we want to, but because we have to.  There is no way we can house every single piece of literature published in the last 50 years, even though pretty much every librarian I know would love to work in the library that did just that and more.  So we have to make selections about what best fits our collection, what is likely to circulate, what has circulated, and where the collection is weak.  A good librarian, or possibly one who is less overworked than this person may have been, would have looked at this title and realized it was inappropriate for the collection and rejected it as a donation or not have ordered it in the first place.

I do hope that this book was offered to the public library rather than being trashed.  Just because I thought it was terrible, doesn't mean I want to see it stop circulating; I would just rather see high school students have easier access to the classics during school than this particular work.  If they're bored enough to read during school, they're bored enough to read Catcher in the Rye, The Scarlet Letter, The Three Musketeers, Frankenstein, or Pride and Prejudice.  Those are the books that need to be on the shelves of the high school library, or better yet, flying off of them.

Banned for sex, violence, horror, incest...basically for being a book written by Stephen King book.


  1. I am really surprised that it found it's way into a school library! I know librarians don't know everything that is on their shelves but can't you tell from the cover what this one is about?

  2. My suspicion on this one is that it likely occurred in a high school that did not have a professional librarian. Likely it was a volunteer who didn't even look at the title except to put it in the catalog and shelve it. This is one of the reasons we need to keep trained and degreed librarians in the school libraries and media centers. That and kids are graduating without knowing how to do rudimentary research, much less the level of research knowledge they'll need for college.


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