Those damned drug-addicted reading trains are at it again.

I honestly thought being an indie bookshop proprietress would be a pretty tame sort job but turns out I was totally wrong as this week we ended up involved in an ongoing banned book issue that makes me both sad for Texas and even more focused on staying here and fighting the good fight.

You can click here to read all the details including NEISD’s response.

PS. I have a copy of UNSPEAKABLE myself and can attest that it is beautifully written and illustrated, and perfectly acceptable for 3rd-6th grade readers as would be expected from any book that has won a shit-ton of honors, including the Caldecott Medal, the Coretta Scott King Book Award and was long-listed for the National Book Award.

PPS. Slightly related, some of our booksellers shared their favorite banned books this week, including Vicki Liendo who highlighted Charlotte’s Web, and this particular angry ( and questionable in SO MANY WAYS) comment on our facebook page is now a store favorite after we were finally able to decipher it.

Now we just need to find an artist who can draw us a train covered in pills reading a book because that shit needs to be on a tote bag immediately.

PPS. “But why was Charlotte’s Web banned?” you may ask. Dude, I had to look it up too. Apparently it was banned in some schools because “talking animals are blasphemous and unnatural” and I guess I could see that but weren’t there talking bushes in the Bible? Seems like if foliage can speak all bets are off, but I’m not that religious so who knows.

123 thoughts on “Those damned drug-addicted reading trains are at it again.

Read comments below or add one.

  1. Bless you Jenny. I think maybe my friends and I in California should start sending busloads of banned nooks to Texas and Florida. It’s feels appropriate.

  2. Always knew you were a bad ass. 🙂 (also yes, that totally needs to be on a tote bag)

  3. Why can’t they ban drunk posting? YES, there were talking bushes as well as a talking donkey in Torah (Old Testament). Probably more, I just haven’t been to Torah study since we left Dallas. Go figure.

  4. Trains dressed in drug
    It took me a minute but yes now that’s going to be my new catchphrase 😂😂

  5. Talking animals now? Uh, hello Disney (Mickey, Donald, etc., etc. Except explain to me why Goofy can talk but Pluto is Mickey’s pet? How weird is that?)? Looney Tunes (Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Porky Pig)? Hanna Barbera (Snaggle Puss, Quick Draw McGraw, Deputy Dawg, Yogi Bear)? and tons more Saturday morning cartoons of my childhood. I just can’t with these people anymore.

  6. I live in Canada and I can’t believe what is happening. I haven’t heard of anything like this here but all my life books have been my refuge. A way to drop into another world in a moment. Please keep fighting!!

  7. “talking animals are blasphemous and unnatural” and I guess I could see that but weren’t there talking bushes in the Bible?”

    There was not only a talking snake in the bible, there was also a talking donkey. Really!

  8. For the record, in the Old Testament there is a DONKEY who talks. So whoever wanted Charlotte’s Web banned hates God, I guess. Numbers 22:27-31

    When the donkey saw the angel of the Lord, it lay down under Balaam, and [Balaam] was angry and beat it with his staff.
    Then the Lord opened the donkey’s mouth, and it said to Balaam, “What have I done to you to make you beat me these three times?”
    Balaam answered the donkey, “You have made a fool of me! If only I had a sword in my hand, I would kill you right now.”
    The donkey said to Balaam, “Am I not your own donkey, which you have always ridden, to this day? Have I been in the habit of doing this to you?”
    “No,” [Balaam] said.
    Then the Lord opened Balaam’s eyes, and he saw the angel of the Lord standing in the road with his sword drawn. So he bowed low and fell facedown.

  9. Thank you for standing up for freedom of the press, freedom of speech, and freedom to be you and me and to see ourselves represented in print.
    I saw the tv show “The Watchman” which is a futuristic superhero show which features the tragedy that was the Tulsa Race Massacre.
    My husband tuned to me and said he didn’t know it was a real event, because he never learned about it in school. I had read about it in one paragraph in my history book in middle school, so I was aware of it.
    Those who don’t learn history are doomed to repeat it.
    Those who don’t see themselves represented in all forms of media in all possibilities and walks of life, do not think that the world includes those possibilities for them.
    We must stand up to unjust censorship in books, in the press, and in life.
    Jenny, you rock!

    (An interesting side-note…The Watchman was also banned from our school library this year. I’m sure it’s just a coincidence. :/ ~ Jenny)

  10. Because of your efforts, we Bought a copy of “Unspeakable” to put into our Little Free Library. Will replace as necessary.

  11. Another Canadian here. So many of the books on these ridiculous lists were part of our curriculum in junior and senior high, I can’t fathom trying to ban them! Thanks for taking part in this fight!!

  12. Flying back into the states a couples months ago, I entered through Texas. THREE Texas customs officials (not one, not two, but three!) had to secure my bag for a strange item. It received the full scrutiny. They pulled people aside. Held up the line. Moved me away. The culprit – a book. A paperback book. Granted it was several hundred pages but alas – still a book. Apparently, books are very dangerous and Texas customs take the book threat very seriously.

    Cheers to all of the trains dressed in drugs. It makes sense really – all of those warnings…

  13. I suddenly got an image of Thomas the Tank Engine wearing a cape made of different kinds of pills. Reading a book.

  14. You and your staff are heroes in so many ways. THANK YOU! I am proud to support Nowhere Bookshop.

  15. Thank you and your bookstore for helping to provide these books. And that comment is the funniest thing I’ve read this week.

  16. Yes please to the tote bag. Have a QR code under the phrase that links to the above, or a general “banned books week” info site activism and snark and a bag. Best trifecta ever.

  17. Talking animals are unnatural? There was a talking ASS or, more gently, donkey in the bible.

    Numbers 22

    28 Then the Lord opened the mouth of the donkey, and she said to Balaam, “What have I done to you, that you have struck me these three times?”

    29 And Balaam said to the donkey, “Because you have abused me. I wish there were a sword in my hand, for now I would kill you!”

    30 So the donkey said to Balaam, “Am I not your donkey on which you have ridden, ever since I became yours, to this day? Was I ever disposed to do this to you?”

    And he said, “No.”

    But my favorite verse is before that. “And then Balaam saddled his ass.”

  18. There’s a talking donkey in the bible in Numbers 22, so whoever banned Charlotte’s Web for that reason is the biggest talking ass since Balaam’s.

  19. To Kill A Mockingbird, banned? One of my top favorite books ever. I read it when I was very young and learned about racial injustice and the need to stand up for what is right and just. Even if I don’t win the struggle I was empowered by that book to keep the strength inside of me to never stop trying. Atticus Finch was the epitome of a man during that era that fought for what he knew was right. Screw Jim Crow!

  20. I must be a blasphemer, as I’ve been reading Charlotte’s Web to my 6 yo.

    I’m grateful that stores like Nowhere Bookshop exist. Let the kids read!!

  21. What happened to separation of church and state??
    Are they going to cancel all cartoons and movies now too????

  22. I’m not a great artist by any stretch of the imagination, but I LOVE drawing silly things. I once drew a sanitation worker vending machine during a meeting because of high turnover. Lol!!! I will give the reading drug train a go.

  23. I’m not american, english is not my first language, but I do read everything by Jenny and can’t for the life of me understand a word about this drugs train. I’m not too smart anyway, but I wanted to say you americans do weird in a very weird way.

  24. I also discovered that my childhood favorite, A Wrinkle in Time, is on the banned book list! There are witches! And science! Thank you for fighting the fight against narrow minds. Books unite us. Censorship divides us. You are my hero.

  25. What slays me is that the books are available online yet the stodgy board members seem to think they can control what kids see by banning books. Nice job, Jen!

  26. @Maria, the joke is that the person who wrote the original post meant to say “But it’s OK for trans [people] to read to them in drag.” But they were too drunk or too stupid (or maybe just haven’t read enough in their life) to know how to write what they meant. So we’re all poking fun at the person who made that post!

  27. @Heidi Thank you so much. I feel better and also worse now I know what this person meant.

  28. I was at a convention recently and one panel discussion included talking about banned books. One of the panelists pointed out that folks can work to ban books but they can’t keep us from buying them and gifting them. I think it would be nice if Nowhere posted a list of books that aren’t banned at Nowhere for folks like myself who will be looking for birthday and holiday books for grandnieces and grandnephews.

  29. My youngest son switched careers when the middle school he taught at cancelled To Kill A Mocking Bird. He tried fighting but ended up leaving.

  30. This is why we can’t have nice things. Never underestimate the stupidity of human beings acting in groups.

  31. Oh, PLEASE make that tote bag happy- and maybe donate a portion of the sales to organizations helping w/gender and race issues. And NO royalties to the nimrod who said it…

  32. The idiot person on Facebook ment transgender on drugs SHE IS ON DRUGS herself do you know that Judy Bloom is also on the ban books for Her book Hello God it’s me God but she is having her revenge this books its coming in the fall I be one of the first to go see it please do by the way iLOVE ALL YOUR BOOKS and I know a lot about depression my son was diagnosed bipolar actually he lives by you in Sans Antonio have a great day 💙

  33. Yes great idee but what about you contact the New York public libraries about your ideas right now they have us patron of those libraries they would love it and would cost nothing because they are help and fund by a group called friends of the libraries I am talking New York and New Jersey might also be interested and I will call them myself tomorrow promise 😉

  34. @Christine, OH, yes! You’re right, of course! I didn’t get that about drugs and thought they were meaning to say “in drag ” Either one would be horrible.

  35. Talking animals can’t be that blasphemous since God had Balaam’s ass talk to him. And I guess they can’t sing “Do you hear what I hear?” at Christmas, either. Thanks for fighting the self-righteous censors who think their morality must be imposed on all.

  36. To Kill A Mockingbird – best book ever. Most people who want to ban books haven’t even read the book they are up in arms about.

  37. I’ll just point out that the post reads “drug” singular, so I suggest not a train that is covered in pills but a train that is one big, long pill. Certainly all this censorship is a very bitter pill to swallow.

  38. That’s so funny! Banning a book REALLY makes me want to read it. I heard about the uproar surrounding To Kill a Mockingbird and realized I’d never read it. Santa brought it for me that Christmas! (Along with another terrible book who’s title escapes me at the moment)

  39. I… Just… what?!?! I’m turning into Yosemite Sam while reading this, who, of course, is “unnatural” since he’s a cartoon and therefore I should be burned at the stake. 😆

    These people need to be flogged.. you know, since we’re supposed to act like we’re in the olden times what with religion as predominant rule of law now-although I’m pretty sure these tyrannical kooks just completely made that up to induce exacting control and censorship!

    I have a sneaking suspicion that these people who are behind this are the same people in an “uproar”
    over the new “Little Mermaid” movie with the lead being played by a black actress.

    Brent Terhune is a comedian who does a hilarious satiric version of an alpha male character. I pasted below his satiric spin of national book banning as well as the Disney casting “uproar”-the man is a treasure! I love that he mocks the down right awfulness in our society-he’s my salve when I get mad at the world! Enjoy, and phenomenal work Jenny! Hugs!

  40. My husband just said, “I wouldn’t draw a train dressed in pills. I would draw a train, but instead of a smokestack, I would draw a bong!” Yes. He said “a train dressed in pills, and I LOVE him for it!

  41. Being enby, which fits under the trans umbrella, I can verify that the banner meant Trans (people) in drag. I’ve seen the comment from right wingers multiple times, as if a trans person reading to children is the same as a drag show.
    Someone here mentioned sending busloads of banned books. I am totally on that bus. Where can I donate? Make those banned books free for the kids who want them!

    Jenny, might you accept donations at nowhere to build up a supply of banned books, and when a young person comes in they can have their pick?

    You can do a whole “get your banned books here” window and devote a section of the store to banned titles.


  42. Dear Jenny, I rarely post anywhere (I’m already angry in my car 40% of my time [We live in Houston. I know you understand.] I’d prefer not to add another 40%). However, more than anyone else – author, comedian, friends – you, madam, have caught me off guard and triggered one of those helpless giggles. I thank you, my friend. I know my life needs it and I suspect I’m not alone.

  43. Order cancelled by Zazzle due to content. “Result:
    Not Approved
    Content This product contains a design with an image
    that encourages and/or glorifies drug use or
    abuse. Per Zazzle’s Terms of Service and
    Content Guidelines, Zazzle will not fulfill
    orders of merchandise that includes references
    to illegal drugs or other forms of substance

  44. Lord love a duck. I hope Vicki has time to work on creating a pill shaped (I’m thinking like an Advil – the long pills) costume for Halloween so she can be like yes I have come dressed in drug to talk about books.
    But also *brain melts*

  45. First, just let me say that if I met a talking spider I would shit bricks, but banning Charlotte’s Web is the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard of. But I do want that tote bag!

  46. This is probably the only time that the Bible and Captain Underpants have something in common. One of my favorite books, required reading in 7th grade English, was Fahrenheit 451. It’s a good thing I got to read this novel, about a fireman who burns books and the houses they’re in, before it made it onto the banned books list.

  47. I mean, I’m fine with trains reading to my kids, but I’d need to know what kind of drug they’re covered in. One assumes trains would have different kinds of drug than humans, so are they even a threat to children? I have questions.

  48. Even though I read the Tulsa story in Smithsonian last year, I just bought the book Unspeakable from Nowhere Bookshop! I will share it with my granddaughters!

  49. Keep fighting the fight. Especially trains reading in drug. You are often the highlight of my week and I’m so happy that I support you and your fantabulous book store.

  50. Here in the boonies of Oklahoma I have been reading the Junie B. Jones series of books to my 4 & 7 yr old grandchildren who live with me. I cannot believe they banned Junie! Rock on and keep reading people!

  51. There was at least on talking animal in the Bible too – Balaam’s ass! Numbers 22:21-38
    and yes I can quote chapter and verse… I guess they need to ban the Bible too.

  52. Bookshop owner a tame job? I worked summers at a public library while I was in college. Book theft, homeless people trying to sleep on empty shelves and bathrooms, people wanting books banned. We even had one guy set fire to a book when he didn’t like the bad news it gave him about a condition he had. Most James Bond job I’ve ever had.

  53. Please keep fighting the good fight! Books should never be banned… can’t say the same for people though. 🙂

  54. Love this- definitely a tote bag. Banned books make the best reading. I was shocked that Bad Kitty was on the list too. The things people come up with to ban books for

  55. Talking animals, huh? That covers a lot of territory. That’s why they need hopped up trains.

    PS: Watch out Mickey Mouse! They are coming for the Clubhouse

  56. Thank you. As an educator who LOVES books this continued fuckery is exhausting. I also hate that I was immediately able to translate what that asshat’s comment was supposed to say. Perhaps if he had read more, he would be better equipped to comment.

  57. I got no problem drawing that and posting on my blog…that dude obviously doesn’t either use spell check or does and didn’t bother to edit because he honestly thought that’s how you spell Trans in Drag 😂🤣 In regards to banning anything, people have the choice to not buy it/read it/borrow it…why ban it ?!

  58. I will definitely buy one copy of “Charlotte’s Web” for my granddaughter and one for my grandson. Hopefully, like a burning bush, the books will grow voices and read them to sleep.

  59. I’m a Jesus follower and I DON’T believe in banning books. Some of my favorite books have included, To Kill a Mockingbird, Charlotte’s Web, Stepen King’s books, and the Narnia series (has a talking lion and many wonderful, fantastical creatures). Banning books is a slippery slope. The pendulum always swings back and before we know it, The Bible is a banned book.

  60. Thank you so much for fighting the good fight! I’m on the Board of my local library in rural Wisconsin, and although we haven’t faced a challenge yet, we feel it’s just a question of time. When that time comes, it’s heartening to know that there are so many people like you out there standing up against censorship as well!

  61. I’m a reading specialist and we have a wonderful attitude towards diverse books in our county. Windows and mirrors. You should see yourself reflected in your schools’ literature and you shud be able to look in on worlds that vary from yours.

  62. Seriously? Charlotte’s Web? Thanks for explaining that one so I didn’t have to look it up myself, that’s… Wow. Thank you for all you do and for speaking out against such unnecessary (and ‘would be laughable if it weren’t so upsetting’) censorship.

  63. Go GURL!! I hate Texas……and cannot say what I want to really say………..OK, maybe just hat the politicians……FOOLS!

  64. That might win the award for ‘Drunken Twitter comment of the century’. I grew up in Tx and was a library rat, hitting the school library every day and the public library on the weekends. I discovered and read so many great books browsing the shelves.

  65. I graduated from an NEISD high school in 1976. Nobody would have tolerated such BS back then! Heck, even the Benediction at our Senior Awards night was a secular reading! (It was from DeTocqueville, though, since we were the Bicentennial Class.) Mrs. Reeves and Mrs. Peak, my dearly remembered honors English teachers at Mac, must be turning in their graves. I loved growing up in San Antonio but I’m now so glad I left after graduation.

  66. I’m not sure I understand that comment even after it’s translated… I think they’re saying that the book ban doesn’t apply to trans people and therefore children should come to school in drag to be allowed unrestricted access to reading material?

  67. Parrots, Cockatoos, and Myna birds all speak… are they double-agents working for the devil? These people are certifiable!! They ban what they fear, which is truth and critical thinking.

  68. My friends, I checked and the Bible IS a banned book (so are Captain Underpants books). I remember a few decades ago when my school’s librarian told me that Bibles were always in the top five most stolen books from school libraries each year. If kids steal it, that sounds like they were told not to read it. I had teenagers. All we need to do is show them which books are banned, then make it sound like we support that censorship. They will be reading any of those books they can find, because Mom and dad said to do the opposite.

  69. Balaam’s donkey also speaks in the Bible. People will look for any excuse to ban books they haven’t bothered to read themselves. If I could draw, I would totally design your drug-addled but literate train.

  70. I’m impressed dude got the spelling of ‘it’s’ correct when everything else in his comment is so off the rails. (Yes, that was a pun.)

    Tell me, has Dr. Seuss been banned? Lot’s of talking animals and ‘things’ in those stories.

  71. Well aren’t there a bunch of baby spiders there at the end. Maybe it was never explicit but that indicates there was hot spider sex going on somewhere behind the scenes in that book and ome folks are so afraid of sex even implied sex traumatizes them.

  72. Of course, EveryThing that happens in the Bible is “natural”.

    OK, not sarcastic, maybe just ignorant—can a trans person be in drag? Does it depend on how far into their transition they are?

  73. I just finished my current painting, so I could figure out a version of this. I’m on the same page as Lisa, I too am picturing a Thomas the Tank Engine wearing a cape of pills. If I’m able to figure it out it’ll be here when it’s done. Oh! I just saw that Cary Lyn did it! That’s awesome! Still, I might give it a try. Looks fun.

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