Saturday, July 22, 2017

Book Blogger Hop July 21st - July 27th: 21.3.60 Is a Record Company Founded by Henry Rollins

Jen at Crazy for Books restarted her weekly Book Blogger Hop to help book bloggers connect with one another, but then couldn't continue, so she handed the hosting responsibilities off to Ramblings of a Coffee Addicted Writer. The only requirements to participate in the Hop are to write and link a post answering the weekly question and then visit other blogs that are also participating to see if you like their blog and would like to follow them.

This week Billy asks: Have you ever read a book or books you would consider 'toxic' because of the effect it(they) had on you? If so, which one(s)?

This is an interesting question, in large part because I have written before about how studies done in the field of behavioural economics suggest that most people not only do not know how their preferences are formed, but that we cannot escape the influences that shape our thinking. In other words, if a book was actually toxic to your thinking, you may not notice because to the extent it influenced you, its effects would be woven into your preferences without you really consciously knowing it was happening.

I suppose one could interpret this question in a more banal manner as asking whether one had read a book that they found expressed toxic views. That is easy to answer: I have. Books like PureHeart, Dark Dawning, and even Oath of Fealty express a vision of life that I find to be completely repugnant (plus, the first two of those examples were really terribly written as well). They didn't really seem to change my way of thinking much, other than to solidify my already existing views, but they were books that expressed positions that I find fundamentally abhorrent.

On the other hand, one could interpret the question as one asking whether one had ever read a book that changed one's way of thinking in a toxic manner. That is, for reasons I pointed out earlier, probably an almost impossible question to answer unless one had changed one's mind at a later date. If you are still operating under the influence of a toxic work of literature, then you will be unlikely to notice that you are subject to that influence, or unlikely to be able to to perceive it as toxic. If one was under a toxic influence at one point, and subsequently had a change of heart and rejected such a line of thought, then one might be able to see the pernicious influence for what it was. The answer to this questions is: Not that I recall. Like I said, I have read some books that expressed fairly toxic positions, but in most of those cases, my opinions on the subjects were already well-formed enough that I wasn't swayed by them. That said, if there was some book in my past that put this sort of view into my head (and there very well may be), I don't know, and may not even be capable of knowing.

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