Literary Quote of the Month

"A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies," said Jojen. "The man who never reads lives only one." - George R.R. Martin, A Dance With Dragons

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Sunday Salon... Banned Book Week Continues... and some Great Banned Books you should READ! Plus a banned book bargain on Kindle!

What is the Sunday Salon? Imagine some university library's vast reading room. It's filled with people--students and faculty and strangers who've wandered in. They're seated at great oaken desks, books piled all around them, and they're all feverishly reading and jotting notes in their leather-bound journals as they go. Later they'll mill around the open dictionaries and compare their thoughts on the afternoon's literary intake...

Banned Books Week continues with highlights of some great books that were NOT on the top 10 list of someone out there... books that for one reason or another someone found objectionable. Can you believe that Charlotte's Web by E.B. White was challenged? The beloved children's story of friendship between a pig and a spider was challenged for its "unnatural" depiction of talking animals! Or how about Little Red Riding Hood? In 1990 it was banned by two California districts because an illustration shows Little Red Riding Hood's basket with a bottle of wine in it (along with bread & butter), and this could be seen as condoning the use of alcohol! Besides quite a few of my favorite children's books being on the Banned and Challenged list, there are a few recent additions to the banned book list that if you haven't read, you should! Oh, and at the very bottom of the page... you just HAVE to watch the video that The American Library Association put out for Banned Books Week! It's only 2 minutes long, but it says it all!

The first banned book today I want to showcase is The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini. What a wonderfully written book of friendship, loyalty and betrayal! The novel centers around the friendship of two boys, Amir & Hassan, in Afghanistan. Amir is the privileged son of a wealthy businessman in Kabul, and Hassan is the son of Amir's father's servant. They are from different classes but are the best of friends and inseparable. The book has been challenged repeatedly for its violence and a sexually explicit scene. That particular scene was brutal and heart wrenching... The story brought me to tears and haunted me for quite some time afterwards. The meaning of friendship, the horrors of war and a class system that seems unfair. If you haven't picked this book up I would highly recommend it. There are some amazing twists and turns in the plot and the story spans the time from boyhood to manhood for these two characters. A friend lent me this book and as I reluctantly picked it up to read it, I found myself lost in the story and couldn't put it down.

My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult was pulled from classrooms in Clawson, Michigan in 2008 because the story was to racy for middle school children. "Anna Fitzgerald has spent her whole life in and out of hospitals, not because there is anything wrong with her, but because she has the ability to help keep her older sister alive. In fact, that was the sole reason Anna was conceived and genetically selected. Her older sister Kate has a rare form of leukemia and her parents will try anything to save her. When Kate needs one of Anna's kidneys, at age 13, Anna decides enough is enough and sues her parents for the right to control her own body." This was a thought provoking and wonderfully written book. Jodi Picoult is known for her books dealing with sticky issues and this story is a good example. We read this in my reading group and the story lends itself to a great discussion! The ethics of having a baby to help a sick sibling... Moral obligations to a member of your family... Harvesting of organs... But this isn't just a straightforward story of family obligations, there are things going behind the scenes between these two sisters who do indeed love eachother... If you haven't read My Sister's Keeper yet, put it on your TBR list!

One of my favorite books of all time, Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett! Removed from a Cleburne, Texas high school English summer reading list in 2009 because the novel contains a rape scene and passages of explicit sex. By the sounds of it, that is all you would remember of the story, but it's definitely not. This book was also my very first recommendation on Chick with Books! Here's my blurb about it from February, "A wonderful story with all the elements! Adventure, treachery, art, love, sex and superstition. What starts as a story of Tom Builder and his love of family & craft, grows into the tale of the assasination and sainthood of Thomas Becket. The characters are so real they almost walk out of the pages! So, get ready to experience the building of a magnificent cathedral, the world of 12th-century England and a cast of characters you simply will not forget. You will not be able to put this book down once you open it. You'll wish there were 900 more pages!" If you like stories set in the middle ages you will love this book! We also read this in my reading group. I had to do a bit of convincing because it was such a thick book, but EVERYone loved it! The pages just flew by! When you are done with the book tell me what you thought of William!

Want to see the list of the top 100 banned or challenged classics? Here's the link to the American Library Associations list. And here's the link to the beginning of Banned Book Week here at Chick with Books. Read all about what the Freedom to Read is all about, and see who else is participating in Banned Books Week! What books have you enjoyed that can be found on the banned & challenged book list? Are you going to read any banned books this week? Let me know what books are on your shelf and what you're reading! ....*Oh, and I just started Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger... if you look at the post before this one, I talk about meeting Holden Caulfield!

Stop by tomorrow for Memoir Monday and our memoir that was a banned book!

*P.S. The Kite Runner, My Sister's Keeper and Pillars of the Earth are all Kindle Ready! And Pillars is a bargain right now at under $7!

Happy reading... Suzanne


Beth said...

Thanks for the cheap kindle price tip on Pillars of the Earth. I just grabbed that one and it's now on my TBR electronic pile!

Louise said...

Never understood banning of books - even if I don't agree with the subject myself, the book and the writer has a right to be there and be published. And some of the books on the banned books list...I mean, I read them myself without thinking that they were controversial in the least (although I do see that some classics could be regarded as risque in say the 1950'es where Catcher in the Rye was written).

Beth said...

Hi Suz!

I was shocked and horrified when I saw that banned book list. Scary!!

My BBW choices are 2 books I've always wanted to read and just never got around to. So this week is a good excuse to finally read The Great Gatsby and 1984.

Suzanne Yester said...

So well put! I totally agree - even though I don't agree with the subject, the book has the right to be available for others to read! And that's what's so scary about the banning of books! Thanks for adding so much to the discussion!


Suzanne Yester said...

I just put The Great Gatsby on my TBR list! I'm not sure I will finish it any time soon, but it's one of the books everyone just loves.... I look forward to hearing about that and 1984 from you! BTW, did you download 1984 on the Kindle?

Literary Feline said...

I'm always amazed at the titles that end up on the banned or attempt to ban list. All three of the books you've highlighted are ones I have read and enjoyed. I can understand a parent objecting to his or her individual child being ready to read a particular book, but not to trying to prevent everyone else from reading the book too.

Anonymous said...

When I stummbled across My Sister's Keeper on the 2008 list, I was shocked. And the reason? Too racy? What the heck does that mean? My Sister's Keeper was one of, if not the, best books I read in 2008. The subject matter was engaging and interesting and the plot was full of twists and I cried at the ending.

I don't understand people sometimes. The top group to initiate challenges is parents! If you don't want your child reading a book, don't let them! There is no need to try and make the novel unavailable to everyone in a school/library/etc.

Also, does anyone else find it slightly ironic that books like 1984 and Farhenheit 451 are on the lists? And my favourite book on the banned/challenged list? Bridge to Terabithia!

Suzanne Yester said...

I have to agree with you Cait and Literary Feline- if you are a parent concerned with the subject matter of a book, don't let YOUR child read it! But why people feel they need to prevent EVERYone from reading a book is incomprehensible to me. It's like going to a restaurant and banning shrimp from the menu because you don't like it!

My Sister's Keeper was a wonderful story that dealt with relevant issues, AND I cried at the end too!
I saw Bridge to Terabithia on that list too, but couldn't understand that one either!

All I can say is words and ideas are not threatening, but not having the freedom of choice is...

Deb Nance at Readerbuzz said...

I wonder how many people have actually read the books they want to ban!

Lisa said...

What is it with people thinking that they can protect their children from reality by banning books? And if you don't want your child to read a particular book, then don't let them. Stop trying to force your opinion on me, people!

Suzanne Yester said...

Hi Deb... I wondered that myself. And if the "offensive" part is where they stop without finishing the "whole" thought behind the story...

Suzanne Yester said...

Hi Lisa,
Another good point! Children are a lot smarter than some adults give them credit for, and you simply can't ban the real world...

Anonymous said...

I was impressed with the story of The Kite Runner as well -- for the most part that is. I felt the last part was not particularly realistic, it is what Dutch might call an 'American ending'. It is hard to explain: something like a Hollywood ending, but different ;)

It is good to know you liked the Picoult book so much; I have heard positive as well as negative reviews of people I 'trust'... I guess you already read Ishiguro's Never Let Me Go?

I'll wait and see what you think of Catcher in the Rye... I put it aside after a few pages already, absolutely not feeling like it :\

Natalie W said...

Wow, very interesting. I've read both The Kite Runner and My Sisters Keeper. Those are so MILD compared to so many others that I've read. I did put Pillars of Earth and The Catcher in the Rye on my must read list. Great post,
Natalie :0)

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