Banned Books Week 2017: Sept 24-30

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I love this year’s cover graphic from ALA Office of Intellectual Freedom that helps put on Banned Book week every year. I try to write about the week every year (or at least have since 2012). According to the ALA website, “It is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read. Typically held during the last week of September, it highlights the value of free and open access to information. Banned Books Week brings together the entire book community — librarians, booksellers, publishers, journalists, teachers, and readers — in shared support of the freedom to seek and express ideas, even those some consider unorthodox or unpopular.” I usually find that the books that people want to ban are usually really good books but for one reason or another people don’t agree with an issue that the book has brought up. If you would like to know more about banned books and fighting censorship, you can also visit this website, which co-sponsors the event with the ALA every year and this one because I love reading comics/mangas/graphic novels, the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund.

I try to write about the week every year and encourage people to read banned books, and find out for themselves whether or not they think the book should be banned. I first got into banned books in graduate school when I was taking a class on YA literature and had to read a banned book. I picked Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes by Chris Crutcher, whose books are notoriously getting banned and is therefore a big supporter against censorship. I really enjoyed the book, but would probably have never read as a kid because of the subject matter. I’m not gonna lie, the book is filled with reasons why a parent or concerned adult might want to ban it: the 30+ drops of the f-bomb and other curse words, discussions of physical/emotional abuse, suicide, abortion, masturbation, child neglect and more. It’s not an easy book to read at times, but there is a redemptive quality about the book that makes it awesome. In fact my mother was rather horrified when I described in detail while I was writing the paper for it. But as YA author Laurie Halsie Anderson has said,“Books don’t turn kids into murderers, or rapists, or alcoholics; Books open hearts and minds, and help teenagers make sense of a dark and confusing world. YA literature saves lives. Every. Single. Day.”

Updated infographic_Top 10 Banned Books for 2016_0

It’s not just Young Adult and Children’s books that are banned but Classics as well. According to the Office of Intellectual freedom, at least 46 books off this list of the top 100 books of the 20th Century have been banned. The ones in red are the ones I’ve read, and apparently I need to read many more. How many have you read? 

1. The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald
2. The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger
3. The Grapes of Wrath, by John Steinbeck
4. To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
5. The Color Purple, by Alice Walker
6. Ulysses, by James Joyce
7. Beloved, by Toni Morrison
8. The Lord of the Flies, by William Golding
9. 1984, by George Orwell

11. Lolita, by Vladmir Nabokov
12. Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck – my review posted here

15. Catch-22, by Joseph Heller
16. Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley – my review posted on my previous blog, which also includes one for The Color of Earth by Kim Dong Hwa (another banned book)
17. Animal Farm, by George Orwell
18. The Sun Also Rises, by Ernest Hemingway
19. As I Lay Dying, by William Faulkner
20. A Farewell to Arms, by Ernest Hemingway

23. Their Eyes Were Watching God, by Zora Neale Hurston
24. Invisible Man, by Ralph Ellison
25. Song of Solomon, by Toni Morrison
26. Gone with the Wind, by Margaret Mitchell
27. Native Son, by Richard Wright
28. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, by Ken Kesey
29. Slaughterhouse-Five, by Kurt Vonnegut
30. For Whom the Bell Tolls, by Ernest Hemingway

33. The Call of the Wild, by Jack London

36. Go Tell it on the Mountain, by James Baldwin

38. All the King’s Men, by Robert Penn Warren

40. The Lord of the Rings, by J.R.R. Tolkien

45. The Jungle, by Upton Sinclair

48. Lady Chatterley’s Lover, by D.H. Lawrence
49. A Clockwork Orange, by Anthony Burgess
50. The Awakening, by Kate Chopin

53. In Cold Blood, by Truman Capote – my review posted here

55. The Satanic Verses, by Salman Rushdie

57. Sophie’s Choice, by William Styron

64. Sons and Lovers, by D.H. Lawrence

66. Cat’s Cradle, by Kurt Vonnegut
67. A Separate Peace, by John Knowles

73. Naked Lunch, by William S. Burroughs
74. Brideshead Revisited, by Evelyn Waugh
75. Women in Love, by D.H. Lawrence

80. The Naked and the Dead, by Norman Mailer

84. Tropic of Cancer, by Henry Miller

88. An American Tragedy, by Theodore Dreiser

97. Rabbit, Run, by John Updike

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Moments of Zen: Sept 24-29

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I had a bit of extra zen when I sat outside and watching the Angry Birds movie with my son, on a giant projected screen, the previous Friday night Sept 23rd. It was a nice time and we both enjoyed it, though next time I would probably bring my own food and drinks and a bigger blanket and a cushion. Sept 25-Oct 1 is Banned Book Week, so please do celebrate your right to stand up and read what you want to read. Here is the Banned Book list of 2015 in pictures. I’m hoping to get to at least one of them on the list this week that I haven’t already read. 

Sat: The few minutes of by myself without worrying about Liam during his swim lesson, where I got to float on my back in the pool and not think about things. This is also a time where I feel particularly lovely and graceful. 

Sun: Sept Book Club meeting, where I presented a mini-talk about author Jonathan Swift and a bit about his book Gulliver’s Travels, and we talked about the book, politics, satire and anything else that caught our fancy. The potluck theme was British food and we had homemade pasties, salad, appetizers, scones (apricot oat ones made by me) and tea. It was perfectly delightful. We decided next months theme would be the French to celebrate our reading Kristin Hannah’s book, The Nightingale. 

Mon: Listening to my Spotify music while I write a new Dragon Age fanfiction story. Hopefully I’ll be able to finish this one. Honestly it’s just nice to have a creative outlet again. 

Tues: Finally starting to weed my parts of the Children’s collection which I’ve been meaning to do for months but haven’t gotten around to doing; working more on my DA story. 

Wed: Playing SWTOR and enjoying my Sith Inquisitor character Skarnax (Force Lightning FTW!). 

Thurs: Finally finished up The Nightingale, which I really enjoyed reading though it definitely was an emotional roller coaster and had me guessing till the end. Should make for an excellent discussion at Bookclub next month; Watching Green Wing on Netflix and absolutely cracking up at Season 1, Episode 3: The Lodger (probably the most random and hilarious episode ever). 

Banned Books Week 2015

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Banned Books Week (BBW) for 2015 will be starting today Sept 27 – Oct 3rd. I’ve been writing about this week for the past three years, and I actually love doing it every year because it encourages me to read new books, plus I’m always curious why people would really like to ban reading [which is essentially what people are doing when they ban a particular book], something that is so important to everything we do. I say it best in this post I wrote about Censorship back in 2012. That year, I read and reviewed A Brave New World by Aldous Huxley and The Color of Earth by Kim Dong Hwa. I didn’t have a chance to write about a particular book in 2013, but last year, I finally got the chance to read Truman Capote’s In Cold BloodI’m not sure what I’ll read this year, but it will be off one of this year’s lists or the Classics Challenged book list.

As a Librarian, one of my biggest jobs is to encourage parents to read to their kids, as well as encouraging kids and teens to come to the library, not only to use the facilities for homework but also reading for pleasure. So it is sad for me to see books being taken away from kids, especially if the child is a reluctant reader. Young Adult (YA) and Children’s books are usually the biggest targets for Book Banning/Censorship.  I liked the way that YA author Laurie Halse Anderson put it: “Books don’t turn kids into murderers, or rapists, or alcoholics; Books open hearts and minds, and help teenagers make sense of a dark and confusing world. YA literature saves lives. Every. Single. Day.” As the article where I found that quote says about censorship and in particular Young Adult Literature, “The reality is that censorship is still a problem in this country, and most of the victims are kids. Sometimes books are literally taken out of their hands…YA literature would deserve defending even it helped only a handful of kids. But YA authors like Anderson, Alexie, Crutcher, Lauren Myracle, Lois Lowry, Robert Cormier, and Judy Blume receive thousands of letters from grateful teens every year.”

This year the focus is on YA Literature (books specifically created for kids ages 11 or 12 – 18), and this is a list of books from the American Library Association or ALA’s Office of Intellectual Freedom for the most frequently challenged books of 2014-15:

  • The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers)
  • Persepolis, by Marjane Satrapi (Pantheon Books/Knopf Doubleday)
  • The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison (Holt, Rinehart, and Winston)
  • The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini (Bloomsbury Publishing)
  • The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky (MTV Books/Simon & Schuster)
  • Drama, by Raina Telgemeier (Graphix/Scholastic)
  • Chinese Handcuffs, by Chris Crutcher (Greenwillow Books/HarperCollins)
  • The Giver, by Lois Lowry (HMH Books for Young Readers)
  • The House on Mango Street, by Sandra Cisneros (Vintage/Knopf Doubleday)
  • Looking for Alaska, by John Green (Dutton Books/Penguin Random House)

Here is another booklist of Frequently Challenged or Banned Books from May 2014-March 2015. I was really shocked to find Dr. Seuss books on this list, as well as nearly all of John Green’s books. If you are interested in learning more about fighting censorship, check out the Freedom to Read website, one of the long-time sponsors of BBW.