Banned Books Club discussion

First book: His Dark Materials Trilogy Book 1

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message 1: by Will (new)

Will O'the Wisp (willothewisp) | 17 comments Mod
The Golden Compass (His Dark Materials, #1) by Philip Pullman

The idea of the Banned Books Club is to read and discuss classics and newer books that have been banned, burned or regularly challenged by fearful politicians and religious leaders with an interest in keeping their flocks compliant.

The Golden Compass was challenged regularly upon its release for its religious and political viewpoints, and is a good starting place for us now. We'll look forward to your thoughts, and remember, you can follow mine at twitter at @lastlightradio, and in my blogs posted by my dear friend Shooter Jennings at or his ilike page.

message 2: by Jamie (new)

Jamie (jamie_leigh) | 43 comments I've read these books multiple times and listened to them read w Philip Pullman as narrator. They are great. I'm looking forward to the discussion and will start reading GC again tonight!

message 3: by Will (new)

Will O'the Wisp (willothewisp) | 17 comments Mod
Welcome, Jamie! We're looking forward to the discussion as well...

message 4: by Satia (new)

Satia I read this book as part of my degree program and loved it. I waited until all three of the books were released and reread the first book before devouring the rest of the trilogy.

It doesn't surprise me that this book was banned because of the themes both religious and political. But that doesn't mean I wasn't disappointed.

And hello! I'm new to the group. This is actually the first goodreads group I've joined and I am looking forward to seeing what other books we will be reading. I seem to have an uncanny knack in appreciating banned books, especially those written for young adults, so I am sure I'll fit right in.


message 5: by Shiloh (new)

Shiloh (shiwolfe) There are some books (series) that leave you feeling changed after you read them, this series was one of them for me.

To me if someone is willing to ban/boycott a book because they feel it threatens their beliefs, they must not be very secure in them to begin with.

message 6: by Jamie (new)

Jamie (jamie_leigh) | 43 comments Satia - I too love YA books that have been banned. LOL. I am starting a MA program this fall so I can get my teaching cert. and secretly share these books with high schoolers. LOL.

Luckily, I was in a high school program that allowed us quite a bit of freedom for our literature choices. That, said students on other "tracks" were not. It blows my mind that some don't believe young adults are able to process the themes and make connections from these banned books.

I live in the south now and was shocked at the uproar over the Golden Compass (this is when the movie came out). It inspired me to go back a reread the series, so that was good. I agree with Shiloh that for someone to be so threatened by art, they are obviously not secure in their faith.

That's all I'll say for now, but I have tons more!

message 7: by Shiloh (new)

Shiloh (shiwolfe) The true irony of causing the uproar is that it usually draws people to it who wouldn't have otherwise heard about it. The Golden Compass is a great example of this. I hadn't heard of the books until the movie came out (I hadn't found goodreads yet lol), but as soon as I heard of the controversy behind it, I knew it was something I had to read, and subsequently fell in love with. So in this particular case, thank you religious extremists :D

message 8: by Will (new)

Will O'the Wisp (willothewisp) | 17 comments Mod
I've finally dived in to this, and am curious (and perhaps it is addressed in the book), is there significance behind Lord Asriel's name?

message 9: by Shiloh (new)

Shiloh (shiwolfe) I think it could be a comparison to C.S. Lewis's Asriel (sp?).

message 10: by Will (last edited Mar 04, 2010 04:46PM) (new)

Will O'the Wisp (willothewisp) | 17 comments Mod
That might make sense. Finally broke down and wikipediaed why it seemed symbolic, and this is what i found - which makes sense.

"The name Asriel could be derived from the Hebraic name of the angel 'Asra'el, who, in the Jewish and Muslim tradition is the Angel of Death, who separates the soul from the body upon death. Alternatively Asriel, being an anagram for Israel, could refer to the English translation of the name Israel, given to Jacob in the Hebrew Bible - namely; "He who has struggled with God". The name Azrael, although incorrectly, has been associated with Satan and Demonology." (As are most symbols and practices associated with satanism, witchcraft, etc. Oh, religion, how are you so frightened of your shadow? On a side note, check out my most recent blog on about fear and power and superstition.)

On another name topics...perhaps Mrs. Coulter was a prescient naming from a certain other dark influence on the world in more recent and familiar times...

message 11: by Jamie (new)

Jamie (jamie_leigh) | 43 comments Sorry I've been MIA, things are crazy right now but.......

What are your thought about Lyra's role in bringing Roger to Lord Asriel and thus his death? She's his best friend, so does that make her Judas or John?

message 12: by Shiloh (new)

Shiloh (shiwolfe) Not Judas, she did it unknowingly. She was trying to do the right thing, thinking that Lord Asriel needed the aleithiometer (sp? don't have the book in front of me..), not a child sacrifice. I'm trying to remember John.. it's been awhile since my Bible learning days :)

message 13: by Will (new)

Will O'the Wisp (willothewisp) | 17 comments Mod
I think the fact that she, as a child, is free of dust, is supposed to absolve her of sin prevents her from becoming a Judas. Judas betrayed Jesus intentionally; Lyra is to innocent to do so. The question of innocence permeates the book though. I think it's fascinating that the most evil acts are perpetrated in the quest to regain one's innocence (and perhaps in a roundabout way, youth and beauty), and that quest for innocence has made the adults in the book more guilty by the minute. Maybe the book in itself is a statement about the value of personal responsibility both in a religious sense (no matter what, your sins won't be absolved through prayer or belief in Jesus), and a secular one (it is clear to the reader that the sin in the book is not original sin, but the actions of the adults whos indoctrination and belief systems lead them to believe that the means justify the ends). It's easy to see either way though how this raised the hackles of, shall we say, more traditional elements of society.

message 14: by Jamie (new)

Jamie (jamie_leigh) | 43 comments Yes, especially the other books in the trilogy as well. Lyra's innocence for me is not absolution for her actions in the books. While she does come to care for and be concerned about others it is her selfishness and disregard for the rules that get her into these situations. It's one of the problems I have with Harry Potter as a role model for children. That said, I think that His Dark Materials and the HP series are really for an adolescent/adult audience and it's our society that forces the "disnification" of these themes, while marketing to children (the younger you suck them in, the more consumers you have for your crap). It really bugs me these books were banned, because it takes the responsibility away from the parents who should be discussing these things with their kids instead of denying they exist and/or looking the other way.

Forgive me if I've said all this before and if I'm rambling a little, it's been a rough few weeks and I'm kind of "ahhhh" right now.

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