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Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Bookshops and Brown's "The Da Vinci Code"

I wonder if there was ever a time when booksellers took it upon themselves to stock up on carefully selected books on the basis of encouraging intellectual stimulation. I browse various bookstores from time to time and I find that I have to avoid looking at Christian/Catholic titles if I want to avoid disappointment. For example, there was this bookshop in Melbourne CBD that had three shelves on every religion and form of spirituality except for Christianity. Then there is this bookshop in the suburbs with a huge selection but with anti-Catholic books mixed in with the Catholic ones. And then there is the Dan Brown phenomenon. Every week of every month since it came out, the Da Vinci Code has been hogging the best spots as you enter the bookshop. Given how flawed Brown's allegations are, it should be funny that bookshops are investing so much selling anti-Catholic slander dressed up as fiction. Why funny? Because these bookshops are respected businesses, and bookshops in general, up there with libraries, are usually regarded as bastions of enlightenment and reason. The irony! On the other hand, perhaps it is too much to ask. These are business establishments, after all. Brown sells so it makes sense to stock up on his books. I am too naive in holding on to ideals where people who sell books are interested in balanced reading. If I were in charge, and I will never be, I would stack Amy Wellborn's De-Coding Da Vinci right next to Brown's fiction. I might even encourage public debate about this in universities, as an academic exercise. Wouldn't that excite readers? Wouldn't that encourage analytical thinking? On the other hand, maybe that's not the point.

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