Again, this meme is from shouldbereading, but before I go any further–
IT’S BANNED BOOKS WEEK.
An excerpt from one of today’s posts: It’s all too easy to say, “If you don’t want your kids to read that stuff, don’t let them, but it’s fine for mine,” or “If your viewpoint is that narrow, it deserves to be broadened!” “Not Even Mein Kampf: Why Hateful Books Should Not Be Banned,” by Deborah Ross.
And now, of course, the books!
To play along, just answer the following three (3) questions…
• What are you currently reading?
• What did you recently finish reading?
• What do you think you’ll read next?
• What are you currently reading?
I’m embarrassed to admit that The Ringed Castle is getting shoved aside yet again. Lymond deserves better treatment, but I have a couple of library books I really would like to read before they disappear from my Kindle, thus…
Today I am double-dipping in World War II England. The book I’m reading on my Kindle is a library borrow, the first in a mystery series, Mr. Churchill’s Secretary, by Susan Elia MacNeal. IRA terrorists, Nazis, and Churchill’s underground war room–this is a really terrific read so far. Plus I’m eager to know what Maggie Hope doesn’t know about her father, that everybody else does…
And I’m listening to a World War II book with a totally different tone but equally engrossing, The House at Tyneford, by Natasha Solomons. A nineteen-year-old Viennese Jewish girl (raised without religion by her opera-singer mother and novelist father) is sent to England as a parlour maid to escape the Nazi threat. Elise is confused, lost, angry and totally unsuited to servitude… and her world is about to turn upside down in more ways than one. I’m enjoying it, and it’s making me much happier about bustling about doing housework or even (gasp) walking for my health. Along with keeping score by logging steps with my fitbit, of course.
What did you recently finish reading?
Another Lisa Kleypas romance. I really enjoy her romances. She has made very, very few missteps in my opinion, or at least, that I’ve read so far. I enjoyed much about this one, Where Dreams Begin. If I were a betting girl (and I’m not) I would bet that the book originally ended with “happily ever after” and she needed to make it longer. (You’ll have to read it to get that reference.) It continued to be interesting and I wasn’t gnashing my teeth with frustration or anything, but the romance had concluded and now we just got a bit of what happened next. Still, a good read.
Well, The Casual Vacancy is still on the way from England. I think the saddest part of knowing that the reviews are dismal is that it has been very easy to avoid spoilers. People aren’t even talking about it. So will it really be next? Not sure.
But because of all the banned books talk I’m also considering which banned book is next on my reading agenda and I think I might just tackle this one.
Ulysses, by James Joyce. I somehow always thought it would be heavy, awful reading, and it might be. And I might not finish it. But Kit Kerr tells me it she found it to be funny in a vulgar and scatalogical way, and how can I not give that a try, I ask? I may try to find an annotated version so I can actually understand it, though.
What books have you excited right now? What are your WWWs? Let me know via link to your blog, or in my comments!
NOTE: I am running another contest to reward reviewers on Amazon. If you’re interested, here is your chance to win a $20 Amazon gift certificate.
Warning: My notifications aren’t working. If you leave a comment, I will reply to it! But you won’t know unless you check back to see. Sorry. I’m having wordpress issues!
It’s Banned Books Week. Last year I posted about a banned book every day all week long. This year I’m joining the other authors at Book View Cafe in our own nose-thumbing exercise. There will be blog entries all week long. Also, we’re posting pictures of ourselves reading banned books.
Join us. Post your picture on your blog. On twitter. On facebook. Let’s get this party started.
And our photo meme is launched on facebook.
I’ll be posting links all week. Join us. Have fun. Thumb your nose at book-banning!
So. What’s up? First of all, the annoying bit of the technology called the fitbit was less annoying than usual today.
Today was a day when I had to run some errands and damned if I didn’t walk 3 miles, just shopping. I hit Lowe’s twice, looking for a lamp with a swivel-arm so I can read more easily in bed. Got it! It even came with a shade!
Gotta say, I wish it weren’t so heavy and masculine but it was cheap plus the only swivel-arm I found so, okay, it’s mine.
Then I went to Half Price Books and scored an amazing find. Amazing. While I was accomplishing “decluttering” by selling them a box of books, I went looking at science fiction and discovered a first edition hardcover with dust jacket of Ursula K Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness. I’ve been looking for a banned book to read next week. Guess I found one.
Mind you, I now I have to order the one I just linked to, because no way am I going to carry around a first edition and mess it up. Plus, I believe in buying new books when they are still available so that the author gets paid. If I were starving it would be different, but I believe in artists getting paid for their work so if something is still available new, I’m not going looking to buy it used. That’s just me.
Then I went to Whole Foods Market and did a lot of wandering back and forth because it’s a location I rarely shop at, and I couldn’t find the stuff I usually get. I bought a sugar pumpkin. What is that, you ask? I dunno. A pie pumpkin. I am going to stuff it with something tasty and bake it. Any suggestions? I’ve never tried this before.
So by the time I got home I was over 2.5 miles, and now I’m over 3 miles.
Also, right now you have excellent odds of winning the $20 Amazon gift certificate I’m giving to some lucky reviewer here! In fact, you will always have excellent odds because it’s not like fifty people are suddenly going to run read and review, so what are you waiting for?
And because I’m in a mood to be generous, I’m also selling La Desperada at the same price if you buy it at Book View Cafe and use this discount code: OCT2012LD
Have a great weekend! And while you’re at it, find a banned book to read. Because Sunday is the beginning of Banned Books Week!
Tonight’s step-count, 7087 and I haven’t cleaned the kitchen. I have yet to hit 10,000, but hey, one of these days…
When I started my tumblr, a book in the hand, it was just a fun kind of thing to do. And it still is, when I have time.
During Banned Books Week I stumbled across an archetypal image so stunning, it caught me in the gut.
I posted it to tumblr:
The story behind it is that Oak Park Illinois Library set up “mugshots” so that people could have their pictures taken reading their favorite banned books. That is the most amazing idea ever. I’d love for our library to do that.
Since I posted it on tumblr, that image has been reblogged 2,552 times.
That, my friends, blows my mind. It’s this person snagging it and posting it and several of their followers snagging it and posting it until there is a spiderweb reaching in all directions of people who were just as taken by this image as I was. Thousands of people, and the center of that tumblr spiderweb started here.
On my little tumblr page.
Oh, okay, if you insist, it actually it started on the library’s flickr page, if you want to get technical about it.
But who’s keeping score?
[OMG, it hit 2,557 while I was typing this entry!]
Sometimes is it necessary? Are there circumstances in which banning is to be tolerated? I think this is where I’m supposed to say something either profound or provocative, but I really don’t have it in me today. And yet I really want to know.
Do you think sometimes it’s understandable to take a book out of a library, or ban it on a wider basis?
Tell me. Seriously. I’m curious.
A hot summer night, a crowded bookstore teeming with customers. Dozens of readers, all ages, snaking around the rows of books, waiting for midnight to buy Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. One side of the store was for those with pre-orders. The other side was for the rest of us. And so we sat, reading books we’d brought with us from home, listening to iPods, chatting softly.
I was alone, sitting in the middle of the Ns. I glanced at the bookshelf beside me.
Nabokov. Lolita. I’d never read it, nor had I seen the movies. I was curious and bored so I opened it and read the opening two paragraphs–
Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul. Lo-lee-ta: the tip of the tongue taking a trip of three steps down the palate to tap, at three, on the teeth. Lo. Lee. Ta.
She was Lo, plain Lo, in the morning, standing four feet ten in one sock. She was Lola in slacks. She was Dolly at school. She was Dolores on the dotted line. But in my arms she was always Lolita.
–and fell under the spell of a Russian writer who felt his English imperfect. (The mind boggles.)
Ironically, I was there to buy a children’s book and ended up with Lolita in my hand.
Ironically, after keeping it with me for almost an hour, they wouldn’t allow me to buy it. Only the one book could be bought after midnight that night–the one we were all in line for. Otherwise they feared they’d never close.
Ironically, both books are near the top of banned book lists.
Me, a few years later, browsing through the offerings on audible. And what should I find but… Lolita.
Read by Jeremy Irons. Nabokov’s words in Irons’ voice. If the devil has truly mastered temptation, surely this is it? I could not resist, reader. I could not.
And thus I discovered the exquisite language of Nabokov in a disturbing but beautiful book that transcends the sum of its parts.
How do you justify Lolita to those who are horrified by its subject matter? You can’t. This book was once banned in France. In France. Its subject matter is an adult man obsessed with–in love with–a very underaged young girl. And he acts on it. But don’t be misled. It is more than that, much more. Lolita has been named one of the most important books of the 20th Century, one of the best books of the 20th Century, and it is, oh reader, it is. I could rattle off its use of the unreliable narrator, of a point of view that left me, by the end, questioning much of what I’d assumed with my head spinning. I could post quote after quote–from reviewers, from the work itself–and I woulld not change your mind.
Nor would I want to.
I understand, you see. I understand why so many will never want to read this book.
I understand and I would tell you, if you read that opening and didn’t find your spine tingling just a bit at the language, if you didn’t feel the pull to keep going, then don’t read, don’t approve, just don’t.
Don’t ban it. Don’t remove it from library shelves so that others must live without choice, because you decided your choice should be for all of us.
A place in which one of those most stunning books in the English language is banned. A book that doesn’t justify its crime. A narrator who admits his sin.
This is not a place in which I want to live.
Nor do you, reader. Nor, really, do you.
Some say the Great American Novel is Huckleberry Finn, some say it’s The Jungle, some say it’s The Great Gatsby. But my vote goes to the tale with the maximum lust, hypocrisy and obsession — the view of America that could only have come from an outsider — Nabokov’s Lolita. The author had in earlier versions set the story in Europe with a French temptress, but that could never have been — there is something quintessentially, inevitably American about the novel…. Those who bought “Lolita” looking for mere prurient kicks must surely have been disappointed. Lolita is dark and twisted all right, but it’s also a corruptly beautiful love story of two tragically alike, id-driven souls… What makes Lolita a work of greatness isn’t that its title has become ingrained in the vernacular, isn’t that was a generation ahead of America in fetishizing young girls. No, it is the writing, the way Nabokov bounces around in words like the English language is a toy trunk, the sly wit, the way it’s devastating and cynical and heartbreaking all at once. Mary Elizabeth Williams
From Cornell University.
Friends and colleagues discouraged Nabokov from publishing Lolita. The chronicle of seduction between the middle-aged Humbert and the pubescent Lolita threatened to be controversial. In the end, it was his wife, Véra, who convinced Nabokov to proceed. Despite the warnings of friends, Lolita appeared in Paris in September 1955, published by a press better known for its pornographic stock than for its efforts to make the works of Jean Genet, Samuel Beckett, and Henry Miller available to a wider reading public. The book’s appearance sparked a flurry of publicity in France, where it was banned as a “dangerous book” until 1958. Lolita would eventually be banned in England, Australia, Burma, Belgium, and Austria and, at the local level, in some American communities. The controversy over the book only fueled sales. On September 17, 1958, the Cincinnati Public Library banned Lolita. The following week it reached number one on the bestseller list.
3.4. I don’t think it should be banned, of course. Honestly before we read this, I thought it would be more provocative than it is because I heard it was a banned novel in many places in the U.S. But it’s not that provocative afterall. More importantly, this is a literary masterpiece. The art far outweighs the maybe provocative aspects of the book. Come on, are we going to ban the painting by Sandro Botticelli, The Birth of Venus, just because it is “provocative?”
Here’s where I foolishly was shocked this week. Why foolishly? Because truly, nothing should shock me when it comes to banned books. But when I was googling around choosing which banned books to write about, A Wrinkle in Time jumped out at me like a punch to the gut. What on earth could anyone find objectionable about this book, unless they objected to the Christian content? But that seemed unlikely because people who object to Christian content in this country usually aren’t book banners.
I loved this book as a kid and read it several times. I only remember two things about with any clarity–the tesseract and what Meg possessed that defeated evil in the end. I’ve gotta tell ya, as a kid, those scenes with 5-year-old Charles Wallace and IT terrified me. And the end filled me with relief and astonishment and joy. That book took me on a roller coaster ride that I rode again and again.
And of course, it turns out that the complaint against it is that this book might endorse liberal Christianity.
Excuse me while steam comes out of my ears.
I am trying to be polite here.
I will repeat what I’ve said before. You have an obligation to protect your kids from anything you feel might be a bad influence on them or might harm them in any way. But that doesn’t give you the right and obligation to make sure my kids can’t read those books in their school and public libraries. I think a lot of people have control issues. (Understatement, I know.) But it confuses me that despite how hard they wave the Bible and the Constitution, they don’t seem to acknowledge that the Saviour they worship told them to keep the two separate. He even said it in red letters!
This is the cover on the copy I read and reread at the Hampton Illinois Library in Dallas, Texas, complete with the golden Newbery Award medallion.
But in my current occupation of building my library, I’m tempted to go with the shallow and get this one.
I haven’t seen the movie. Have you? Was it wonderful? Because if it wasn’t wonderful, I think I’d rather remember the images from my own imagination.
From the wikipedia entry:
Madeleine L’Engle’s fantasy works are in part highly expressive of her Christian viewpoint in a manner somewhat similar to that of Christian fantasy writer C.S. Lewis. She was herself the official writer-in-residence at New York City’s Episcopal Cathedral of St. John the Divine, which is known for its prominent position in the liberal wing of the Episcopal Church. L’Engle’s liberal Christianity has been the target of criticism from more conservative Christians, especially with respect to certain elements of A Wrinkle in Time….
This novel is on the American Library Association list of the 100 Most Frequently Challenged Books of 1990–2000 at number 22. Reasons given include the book’s references to witches and crystal balls (although the characters are not in fact witches, and the crystal ball is a science-fictional one), the claim that it “challenges religious beliefs”, and the listing of Jesus “with the names of great artists, philosophers, scientists, and religious leaders”.
It is impossible to overemphasize the impact of this next book in my week of banned books. This is the year my mother–who had worked for fifteen years, at least–went to look at new cars and was told, “Come back with your husband, and we’ll talk to you.” Is it any wonder that at the gynecologist she and other women like her would be told, “Don’t worry your pretty head about it, honey.” Forty years isn’t really that long. It’s not. And yet, forty years ago women were ignorant about their bodies and were not encouraged to learn–in fact, were told not to.
And then a group of twelve radical “women’s libbers” (in an era of, “I’m not a women’s libber, but…”) got together and wrote a handbook for a woman’s body that dealt with everything from menstrual cycles to pregnancy to menopause, complete with line drawings of male and female genitalia. And yes, it was called “obscene trash” by Jerry Falwell. The book was banned by high school and public libraries across the country.
A book to teach women about their bodies, about what is normal, about how to take care of themselves.
Our Bodies, Ourselves sure taught me a lot, and it has been the textbook of choice that thousands of moms have given their daughters in the past four decades.
You’ve come a long way, baby.
And Our Bodies, Ourselves is a key reason why.
As important today as it was then. I think I need a new copy.
The naughty things your pooks gets up to when you aren’t looking…
Well, today’s entry in my week of banned books is a series of books I absolutely love and one that was so feared, it sparked book burnings! Of course, it’s the series that began with Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone in the US, where they changed the title from Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, an act that caused me to buy all mine from the UK so I could be sure to get the real British language without having it Yank-ized.
I still have my “Muggles for Harry Potter” pin which I wore with pride when it looked like a handful of vocal people were going to get the books banned from way too many school libraries on the basis that they promoted witchcraft and satanism. If those concerned people had actually read them, they would have recognized the tales of good vs. evil, where kids got rewarded for standing up to their peers and doing right even when peer pressure was to do wrong, as a single example of the moral standards of the books. It created all kinds of heroes and anti-heroes, and gave kids a dozen different ways to see themselves as special, whether they were quiet and bumbling or mocked for liking to study or a jock. There is so much depth to these books that I’m sure they will be studied for decades to come. I’ve already read some scholarly works on them.
By the time the last book of the series was published it also became clear that there is Christian allegory there for those who want to study it, but like the best fiction, not preachy or blatant and certainly easy to ignore or miss if you’re not looking for it.
Harry Potter and the magic of his world and its characters will forever own a corner of my heart.
These books inspired thousands, if not tens of thousands–or even more–to read. Kids who were slow readers plowed through these tales no matter how long they got, and came out the other side with a love for books and a desire to read more. If that’s magic, I’m all for it!
“In 2001, a group of parents in Lewiston, Maine, staged an old-fashioned book burning to torch a series of books they claimed were promoting violence, witchcraft and devil worship. (The fire department intervened before the first match was struck, and the protest’s organizer settled for a pair of scissors with which to mutilate the books.) Though Harry Potter was still in his literary infancy, the boy wizard’s saga had already garnered its fair share of opponents; similar public displays of contempt occurred across the country.” Follow the link to read more.
So yeah, I liked this book that is “spiritually fatal” and an “obscene parody of the precious gift of God.” Hide the children!
But see that? I said “like.” Yesterday I said that I was going to write this week about banned books that I love, but honestly, I don’t love Twilight. I love to mock it, though. Does that count?
I listened to the first three books in the series on audio and found them entertaining and diverting enough to keep up with the series. But between books, I often didn’t remember what had happened in previous books, and when friends were waiting desperately for book four, I couldn’t remember if I’d read book three. I finally figured it out by finding it in my audible library, so yeah, I’d read it. I think the whole Twilight cult pretty much turned me off, though I am also entertained by it and understanding of it, since I am a member of the cult of Potter and a lot of people don’t understand that either.
But to get back to the subject at hand. Banning and challenging. On many levels, Twilight was made for conservative parents. Here is a supercharged, romantic story about a 17-year-old girl and her 17-year-old [vampire] boyfriend in which they can’t have sex. He makes this clear. He holds firm. No matter what, they can’t. She might not survive the experience, and no, she can’t convince him to turn her into a vampire no matter how hard she tries because he is convinced it will doom her soul. (Erm, spoilers, I guess, though does anybody really not know this? And yeah, there is more I could say about this but won’t because of MAJOR spoilers, but if you want to see that, nobody can beat what Cleolinda wrote about the fourth book., please stay on the line. And you wonder why I love mockage.) Twilight is built on moral issues and the hero always takes the moral stand. I have to believe this is part of why it was so popular.
But, that pesky vampire thing. Because Twilight is about vampires, it is considered satanic in certain circles. Supernatural subject matter will get you in trouble faster than anything, it seems. There has also been some complaint about religion because a lot of people are convinced that somehow Stephenie Meyer has hocus-pocused some sort of stealth Mormon message in the books. So I guess this one gets it from all sides. And honestly, if you really are worried about the vampire/supernatural thing, you have my sympathies because how do you escape that? (It has always seemed to me that people who can’t accept “make-believe” because they think the devil is in it are kind of admitting that they don’t know what “make-believe” means, or else it wouldn’t scare them, right? Okay, maybe that’s just me.)
Look, you can’t ban this book. You simply can’t. Because if you do, you rob me of one of the great pleasures of life, mocking Twilight. With love, mind you. Because honestly, I enjoyed them even if I didn’t love them, and some of my best friends and even relatives LOVE these books and I respect those women and don’t think less of them (except, really, Team Jacob?) but yeah, Twilight-mockage. Love it.
So you can’t ban it. You just do what parents are supposed to do, figure out which part of the message you want to make sure your kid gets, and discuss it with them. And if the message is, guys in real life who act like this are stalkers, not romantic? Let Buffy handle the message for you.