Remember the Axe

No one can accuse me of not embracing the latest fads and slavishly following the top influencers on the internet. Whether it’s a tricky dance step on TicTok, a life-threatening challenge on Twitter, or the latest act of stupid cruelly enacted by some unnamed Florida governor, just point me to the end of the line and I’m there!

But I have a problem: I can’t seem to identify any books to ban this month.

Although the current criterion for book banning seems to be if the reader is in any way upset by the text, especially if it makes them feel bad about themselves, I have always ascribed to Kafka’s pronouncement—

“I think we ought to read only the kind of books that wound or stab us. If the book we’re reading doesn’t wake us up with a blow to the head, what are we reading for? So that it will make us happy, as you write? Good Lord, we would be happy precisely if we had no books, and the kind of books that make us happy are the kind we could write ourselves if we had to. But we need books that affect us like a disaster, that grieve us deeply, like the death of someone we loved more than ourselves, like being banished into forests far from everyone, like a suicide. A book must be the axe for the frozen sea within us. That is my belief.” — Franz Kafka

I hope none of my suggestions last month lead to anyone feeling bad:

  • 07-01-22 – The Missing Head of Damasceno Monteiro — Antonio Tabucchi
  • 07-02-22 – 3001: The Final Odyssey — Arthur C. Clarke
  • 07-03-22 – The Employees — Olga Ravn
  • 07-04-22 – Learning to Talk — Hilary Mantel
  • 07-05-22 – Gender Queer — Maia Kobabe
  • 07-06-22 – How to Be a Revolutionary — C. A. Davids
  • 07-07-22 – The Faces — Tove Ditlevsen
  • 07-08-22 – Nine Princes in Amber — Roger Zelazny
  • 07-09-22 – Rubicon: The Triumph and Tragedy of the Roman Republic — Tom Holland
  • 07-10-22 – The Interim — Wolfgang Hilbig
  • 07-11-22 – Different: Gender Through the Eyes of a Primatologist — Frans de Waal
  • 07-12-22 – Harsh Times — Mario Vargas Llosa
  • 07-13-22 – Sea of Tranquility — Emily St. John Mandel
  • 07-14-22 – The Half-Finished Heaven — Tomas Transtromer
  • 07-15-22 – River of the Gods — Candice Millard
  • 07-16-22 – The Midcoast — Adam White
  • 07-17-22 – The Lioness — Chris Bohjalian
  • 07-18-22 – Nightcrawling — Leila Mottley
  • 07-19-22 – The Woman From Uruguay — Pedro Mairal
  • 07-20-22 – Paprika — Yasutaka Tsutsui
  • 07-21-22 – A Style of Revolt — Mark Ford
  • 07-22-22 – Neruda on the Park — Cleyvis Natera
  • 07-23-22 – Horse — Geraldine Brooks
  • 07-24-22 – The Master of Blame — Alice Kaplan
  • 07-25-22 – Farmerettes — Gisela Sherman
  • 07-26-22 – The Museum of Abandoned Secrets — Oksana Zabuzhko
  • 07-27-22 – The Stochastic Man — Robert Silverberg
  • 07-28-22 – Atomic Anna — Rachel Barenbaum
  • 07-29-22 – Stolen Focus — Johann Hari`
  • 07-30-22 – On the Plain of Snakes — Paul Theroux
  • 07-31-22 – The Fourth Dimension of a Poem — M. H. Abrams

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