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 13, 2009

The Sunday Salon... Banned Books, National Reading Group Month and some Books with Buzz!

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...

As a person who loves reading, it surprises me that there are stilled banned and challenged books. Most of the time, these challenges are to protect children from inappropriate material, but in some instances, such as the challenging of Charlotte's Web by E.B. White for the "unnatural" depiction of talking animals, I am left scratching my head. All this came to mind this week after I read that the annual celebration for your Freedom of Reading was coming! Banned Books Week (BBW): Celebrating the Freedom to Read is observed during the last week of September and has been observed each year since 1982. "This annual ALA event reminds Americans not to take this precious democratic freedom for granted." The American Library Association (ALA) keeps track of all challenged and banned books. The ALA believes "Frequently, challenges are motivated by the desire to protect children. While the intent is commendable this method of protection contains hazards far greater than exposure to the "evil" against which it is leveled... Individuals may restrict what they themselves or their children read, but they must not call on government or public agencies to prevent others from reading or seeing that material." I think parents should have the right to restrict what their children read and that "adult" books shouldn't be in the children's section... But taking the books off the shelf for all of us? What do you think? This year Banned Book Week is Sept.26th - Oct.3rd. I plan on reading Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger... I mention all this ahead of time, to see if you want to participate in Banned Book Week!? If you have a blog, would you like to link up that week and post about Banned Book Week, either about a particular banned or challenged book, a review of a banned or challenged book, or just talking about the books you love? Here's the ALA list of the top 100 Classic Novels that were either banned or challenged. At the bottom of the page Here you can find links to the lists of the Banned or Challenged Books for the last 5 years. Let me know if you'd like to participate, send me a link to your blog and we'll link up.

In October, The Women's National Book Association celebrates National Reading Group Month! "Reading groups are proving that good books bring people together. National Reading Group Month salutes reading groups. It fosters their growth and promotes the love of literature. It's an opportunity for reading groups to reflect on their accomplishments and plan for the future — the perfect time to join or start a group." There will be nation-wide events, and reading group recommendations. Click on the highlighted link for more info. And next month we'll talk more about reading groups and the great things we get out of them! Do you belong to a reading group? I'd love to hear about i! Don't wait until next month, let me know what you're group is all about now!

Now that I've talked about the freedom to read what you want, and mentioned about next months celebration of Reading Groups... let's talk a little about some books with buzz..

The much anticipated book by Newbery Medal winner Kate DiCamillo,The Magician's Elephant, tells the tale of Peter Augustus Duchene, a ten-year-old orphan who receives an unbelievable piece of information from the local fortuneteller. Peter learns that his fate is tied to an elephant that has inexplicably fallen from the sky when a magician's trick goes terribly wrong. A small adorable 200 page hardcover book about the size of a trade paperback, written in chapters and peppered in beautifully dark pencil drawings by well known illustrator Yoko Tanaka, has generated a lot of buzz before and after it's recent release. Kate DiCamillo is known for her wonderful tales beautifully & simply written and this should be no different. A book for children, ages 8-13, I picked up a copy of this for myself... look for the review next week!

Next book with Buzz for us women... The Invisible Mountain by Carolina De Robertis. In the author's own words she describes her book... "The Invisible Mountain traverses ninety years of Uruguayan history and culture through the eyes of three generations of women. From rural gaucho life and Italian immigrant experiences at the turn of the 20th century, to the revolutionary 60’s and the dictatorship that followed." Provocative, heartbreaking and ultimately life-affirming, The Invisible Mountain is a poignant celebration of the potency of familial love, the will to survive in the most hopeless of circumstances, and, above all, the fierce, fortifying connection between mother and daughter. I love stories with strong women and this looks like it will be a wonderful read! Not only for the story, but the writing of Carolina De Robertis is also getting high praise... I can't wait to start reading this!

And finally, I have to admit buying another book for The Japanese Literature Challenge! Gnoe who I met thru The Japanese Literature Challenge, and who has a wonderful blog called Graasland, recommended Strangers by Taichi Yamada. A haunting tale of middle-aged, jaded and divorced, TV scriptwriter Harada who returns one night to the old dilapidated downtown district of Tokyo where he grew up. There, at the theatre, he meets a man who looks exactly like his long-dead father. And so begins Harada's ordeal, as he's thrust into a reality where his parents appear to be alive at the exact age they died so many years before... Thanks Gnoe for the recommendation! Another book I am really looking forward to reading! So many books in the TBR pile!

What are you reading this week!? Any books you want to recommend? I'd love to hear about them! And don't forget about Banned Book Week! Let me know what you think!

Happy Reading.... Suzanne


Bellezza said...

I can't wait to get my hands on DiCamilla's newest book; what an author! Plus, you two have convinced me to try Strangers. The cover alone looks so great, but I also loved your words. Aren't banned books a conundrum sometimes? What the heck?!

Lisa said...

Hey Suzanne! I will DEFINATELY be up for the Banned Book Week! And I was JUST looking at "The Magician's Elephant" in Chapters this past weekend!!! After reading your write up on it, I'm going to pick it up tomorrow.

Loved reading your Sunday Salon!

Suzanne Yester said...

Hi Bellezza! Your reading challenge is just opening so many doors! (And not just to bookstores!) I'm glad you are going to pick up Strangers because we can chat about it after we're both done! And I loved the cover too! And yeh, what's up with some of those banned books? Charlotte's Web?!

Hi Lisa!
OK! I'm glad you're up for Banned Book Week! It'll be fun to link to your blog! I'll email you later in the week to chat!
Love your blog and Sunday Salon too!!

Linda Nguyen said...

Oh, I want to read The Magician's Elephant. I liked her Tale of Despereaux. Your review just might determine whether or not I get the book. =) Thank you for visiting my blog, even though it feels like some of its life has been sucked right out of it. Thank you, Suzanne!

--Linda Ellen

Liz said...

Too many things to respond to: first, I didn't care for "Done," by Karin Slaughter, and I usually really enjoy her books. Too much violence, I guess. I didn't even finish it. Second, I'll have to tell my sister, the (real) "sister," (as in nun) about the "Woman Who Named God," as she'd enjoy that a woman is in charge of anything related to God, as opposed to the men.

Second -- Banned Books again already? That seems to come faster every year. Remember the flap last year with Sarah Palin? Then it turned out she didn't try to ban the books at all. I bet the banners would try to ban my current read, just because it features gay characters. That's right -- just part of the book, just part of life, just like ... hmmm, real life! As this book, "Three Kisses," is a thriller, it also shows that you don't need to be straight to be heroic and strong and capable. Not to mention, it's a fast-paced, adventurous book set all over the place, including, naturally, the Middle East.

J.T. Oldfield said...

Check out the Banned Book Challenge over at the Biblio Blogazine!

Helen said...

Hey, Suzanne. I'd like to link up with you for Banned Books Week. Send me an email as to how you'd like to do this. Thanks.

SafeLibraries® said...

Have about Chick With Truth. No books have been banned in the USA for about a half a century. See "National Hogwash Week."

Also see "US Libraries Hit Back Over Challenges to Kids Books," by Sara Hussein, Agence France-Presse [AFP], 6 September 2009.

Given "American Library Association Shamed," by Nat Hentoff, Laurel Leader-Call, 2 March 2007, I ask anyone reading this to explain why the ALA views book burnings, bannings, and jailed librarians in Cuba as NOT censorship, and why people legally keeping children from inappropriate material IS censorship.

Why does the ALA not only refuse to assist jailed Cuban librarians, but go further and actually thwart efforts by others to assist them? Why should members of the public consider the ALA to be authoritative on the definition of what is censorship in local public libraries?

Indeed, why should local libraries care one whit about an organization actively blocking efforts to assist jailed and beaten Cuban librarians and associated censorship and book burnings?

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