Where The New Media Landscape Can Take You
Readers of this blog may have been puzzled by the last comment that was posted — Betty Carter had graciously offered some advice on how to "make a case to allow young people to take out more books." Well some trawling bot at the ad agency for the Kanly Packing Machine factory in China picked up "case" and "books" and offered the services of its state-of-the-art box making machines to all of you. The very same day I got an email from an old friend in the kids books world, asking if I wanted to join Goodreads. I go to the site every so often to look at comments on books I wrote or edited, so I said OK. I did not realize that in doing so, I both linked to a huge list of names on Goodreads, and sent a similar invite to my own address list. Like the folks at Kanly I was all over the net, getting emails back from people asking who I am and why I seek their friendship on Goodreads.
So we are all "in touch" but not in communication. While swimming in these cross currents, I have also just begun the radio tour for my new book Unsettled: the Problem of Loving Israel. Now friends this creates a conflict for me. I do not believe in using this column to discuss or promote my own work. Here, in this space, I am a lover of, advocate for, critic of, nonfiction for younger readers. I want this space to an objective forum, not a stand in a marketplace. But I think some of my experiences as an author may also be of interest to you. So if you don’t mind — and feel free to email and tell me if you do — I will talk about some of my experiences as an author with his own books. And here is one — today I am to speak with a Chicago "shock jock" — a guy who claimed Obama was a Muslim. This is so outside the world of ALA, of Banned Book Week and "accuracy" that I could be in another universe. But in fact his show is part of the world of Americans who have strong views on Israel — those who might be interested in my book. I have already heard from someone claiming Muslims are "different" — condemned by their "culture" (whatever that is, there are many, many different Muslim cultures) to be violent — just as I have heard that Jews are "different," a "race" all our own.
So often we hear of book controversies when books are challenged or banned. But being out on talk radio, I hear how books are discussed — the level of so called ideas that are treated as acceptable throughout this land. It is a bracing reminder that we need to train, challenge, young people to think. They are going to be bombarded — with ads from box making plants, irrelevent offers to join lists, and toxic ideas. And the only defense is sharpening their own ability to question us.