‘Lolita’, ‘Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close’ join restricted book list in Catawba Co. Schools

CATAWBA COUNTY, N.C. — Students in Catawba County high schools will now need parental permission to check out two challenged books, according to our partners at the Hickory Daily Record.

The books in question are: “Lolita” by Vladimir Nabokov, and “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close” by Jonathan Safran Foer.

The Daily Record reports that multiple motions and attempts to mend them forced the Catawba County Schools Board of Education to settle on restricting access to both books. At the time, “Lolita” was already restricted by the high school reading committee. It was the board’s choice to restrict “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close”.

Annette Richard, a board member, brought up the idea that restricted books should be out of reach of students; the request passed with flying colors at the end of the meeting after being made into a motion by fellow board member, Jeff Taylor, the Daily Record says.

Before her election, board member Michelle Teague challenged both books. Her concern with “Lolita” was that it is about pedophilia, and her worry about “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close” was its sexually explicit content.

“The story of Lolita, if you read it, is far from encouraging pedophilia,” Taylor told the Daily Record. “The end result in the book (is) the protagonist is dead, Lolita is dead (and) her mother is dead. The whole point is that lifestyle and that behavior leads to ruin.”

The Daily Record reports that Teague’s true concern lies with students who read the book mimicking the behavior of Lolita.

Board member Taylor says “Lolita” has a Lexile level of 1,380 out of 1,500, making the board a challenging read for some.

“You could round up a room full of people and there might be three in there that could even understand all the words in that book,” Taylor said. “So I don’t think it’s going to propagate mass pedophilia in our county if ‘Lolita’ stays on the shelf.”

The Daily Record says Taylor added a point about a possible population crisis at Sherills Ford and St. Stephens with a new housing development under construction and that the board isn’t giving the time or energy to the issue.

Leslie Barnette, vice chair of the board, added that if parental permission is not enough, “then I think the only thing left is that it is just about banning books.”

“We’re not book banning,” Teague said. “We are curating inappropriate books in the school system. That’s what that is. Nobody is banning books. We have inappropriate books in this library system, and I don’t feel like, as a board member, that we should house sexually explicit books in the school system.”

Board member Richards made a motion to keep “Lolita” as a restricted total, which Barnette seconded. Teague then tried to amend the motion with her own but did not carry it.

The Daily Record says the motion reverted back to the original carrying 4-3. Chairman Ronn Abernathy, Richard, Taylor and Barnette voted in favor; board members Tim Settlemyer, Teague and, Sigmon voted against them.

Comments and discussion on “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close” was limited. It was called into question by Taylor because members of the board had already shared their opinions.

The second book, brought confusion and more failed motions, including a second amendment attempt from Teague. Taylor made the final motion to restrict “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close”. The Daily Record says the motion had a 5-2 vote, Taylor, Richards, Barnette, Abernathy, and Settlemyer in favor and only Teague and Sigmon disagreeing.

(WATCH BELOW: After two weeks, 5 objections filed over CMS library books)