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Banned Book Week: A Few Favorites

I wanted (want?) to read tons of books this week.  Seeing lists of books that have been banned and challenged  I’ve been doing a lot of: “Oh!  I remember that book!  I should read that again!” or “Oh! I’ve been meaning to read that one!”  If I had all the time in the world I would read them all (yes, every single one… I’ve got all the time, right?) But, I don’t… I have rather limited time honestly, so instead I will settle with reading one of them (To Kill a Mockingbird) and explore some memories and thoughts about a handful of favorites that made it to the 2000-2009 top 100 list of banned books.  These books spoke to me, for one reason or another, and have stuck with me (even though some of them I haven’t read for over 20 years).

Harry Potter (Series), by J.K. Rowling (occult/Satanism and anti-family themes)

10I came to these books a bit late, the first few were already out when I started reading them sometime late in college.  I love this series, fun stories, and I really appreciate how seed were planted in the early books that become important and relevant books later.  I very much admire the books from a writing perspective.  But even more than that — I remember Harry Potter being the first books that I saw everywhere.  Kids that I knew normally hated reading were burying themselves in these stories.  Addictive tales that introduced so many to the magic of reading.
As for the reasons for it’s challenge… I am always challenged by the idea of “occult/Satanism” behind a ban, and know that those who present this reason are generally coming from a religious understanding that I just can’t wrap my head around.   As a lover of, and writer of, fantasy stories, where I create magic systems and gods, I don’t think I need to say much about how I feel about that argument.  But the anti-family themes kind of surprises me.  Yes, there are certainly some challenging families in the stories, but the series can also, very much, be read as being about the power of family — and the power of created families.

I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, by Maya Angelou (sexual content, racism, offensive language, violence and being unsuited to age group)

13214I read this in 8th Grade, as part of an after-school Honors English program.  It was powerful.  I don’t even remember what it was we were focusing on within the text, but I know a few things still stand out to me, foremost among them the beauty of Maya Angelou’s language.  Her writing drew me in, and even through parts of her life experience were very hard to read, the language had a beauty and power to it.

And one of the reasons for this book being challenged is one of the ones that often makes me want to stand up and shake people.  HAve you notice how books that talk about race, and a great many books written by people who happen to not be white get on the list for “racism”?  Is this a case of “if we pretend it doesn’t exist it doesn’t exist?” because, that’s certainly how it seems to me.   No, you can’t talk about racial inequality… you can’t have characters that face racism… that is inappropriate.  How does this make sense?

Be sure to check out Hannah Given’s Banned Book Blog Party, and Book Journey’s Banned Book Week Features!

Tomorrow... More of my book-reflections, and an exploration of that stubborn “unsuited to age group” reason.

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Banned Book Blog Party

 Banned Book week is here!

I dislike that such a thing needs to exist… but I welcome the chance to celebrate some of those books that I love, which have made their way to the Banned and Challenged books lists.  The freedom to read the books which call to you is important to me.  So I love the chance to participate in the Banned Book Blog Party, hosted by Hannah Givens.

No books have ever been “off-limits” to me.  I’ve spoken before about how one of our regular forms of entertainment was to go to the library.  Mom would let us run loose through the building, the only limitation on the books we checked out being, “will you really read them all before we come back?”  I would enter that place like someone stepping up to an oasis, thirsty to get as many books as I could.  And I would leave like someone departing for a long journey, arms loaded with books of all sorts.

When I began to develop an interest in Holocaust Literature (at a ridiculously young age), Mom did nothing to stop me.  She did, I would much later find out, read many of the books that I checked out, but never once told me I couldn’t check them out.  When I began to express interest in writing Mom let me read the romance novels my aunt had written, because here was a published author that I knew.  Perhaps some would have said the material was a little advanced for a middle-schooler, but that was no reason for me to not try — and it helped me immensely to be able to read something and say “My Aunt wrote this!”  Taking the author off the pedestal and making me realize they are real person, that it wasn’t an impossible dream.

And when I look at the lists of books that have been banned and challenges… so many of them are books that held such important places in my life.  I remember once, when I was in High School, writing a letter to the editor, which got printed in the Oregonian (the first time I saw my name in print, next to something I had written, in a non-school-related publication), in response to an article about a group trying to remove The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn from the curriculum.  The argument they made (as seems to be made often) was the use of “The N word.”  But I had just finished reading this in school, and the conversations we had around the book, the language used in the book, and what Mark Twain was saying with this book had been powerful conversations.

I perused the ALA list of the top 100 Banned/Challenged Books from 2000-2009, and these ones especially stood out at me:

  1. Harry Potter (Series), by J.K. Rowling
  2. And Tango Makes Three, by Justic Richardson/Peter Parnell
  3. I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, by Maya Angelou
  4. His Dark Materials (series), by Phillip Pullman
  5. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain
  6. The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison
  7. To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
  8. The Giver, by Lois Lowry
  9. In the Night Kitchen, by Maurice Sendak
  10. Beloved, by Toni Morrison
  11. Bridge to Terabithia, by Katherine Paterson
  12. The Face on the Milk Carton, by Caroline B. Cooney
  13. Blubber, by Judy Blume
  14. The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini
  15. The Great GIlly Hopkins, by Katherine Paterson
  16. Summer of My German Soldier, by Bette Green
  17. Draw Me A Star, by Eric Carle
  18. The Things They Carried, by Tim O’Brien
  19. Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury
  20. Junie B. Jones (series), by Barbara Park
  21. Song of Solomon, by Toni Morrison
  22. The Upstairs Room, by Johanna Reiss
  23. Tiger Eyes, by Judy Blume
  24. A Wrinkle In Time, by Madeline L’Engle
  25. Julie of the Wolves, by Jean Craighead George
  26. Goosebumps (Series) by R.L. Stine
  27. Are You There God?  It’s Me, Margaret, by Judy Blume.

These books I list, not because I am surprised that they have all been banned or challenged… I knew that many of them were on that list (though there were a few surprised for me Junie B?  The Upstairs Room? The Things They Carried? What?!) but I am somewhat surprised that over 1/4 of the list of frequently challenged books in those years are ones that I have read — many of them ones I really love and that helped me in some way.  A few of these spark such memories for me, many I own, may even made the Big Move, and survived the purge of psychical-copy books because they were so important.  It makes me sad, downright sad, and more than a little upset, that someone, somewhere, believed that they were doing right by trying to keep others from reading these books.

Bit by bit through the rest of this week I’ll take some time to visit the ones that spoke most to me — why I think they’re good books, important books.

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For now, here are some other places that are exploring the issue of Banned Books today:

Cindy Grigg, “These 19 Frequently Challenged Books might Surprise You – Banned Books Week 2014

Protecting “The Books That Will Never Be Written”: Judy Blume’s Fight Against Censorship.

Banned Book Week: And Tango Makes Three. Hannah Givens

Banning Books, Banning Voices: A Banned Book Week Post, Part Time Monster.

Powell’s Books list of Banned Books

Banned Book Week

ALA Banned Books Page

Edit:
For a collection of many Banned Book Week Posts that were published during the week, check out the pinterest board!

If We Were Having Coffee (6)

Coffee time.  I’m a bit bedraggled this morning, don’t mind the blurry eyes and yawning.  Last night I made some frustrating discoveries, but nothing can be done about them until Monday.  Monday lunch-break on the phone trying to iron things out is not what I want to do, and though I can’t do anything about it until Monday, I wasn’t able to sleep well last night.  Well, once I got to sleep… decided to push through some editing first, and got to remember how much I love one of the upcoming characters in Disparate Threads.  I know parents aren’t supposed to have favorite children, but are authors allowed to have favorite characters… because I certainly do.

It wasn’t really a bad week, other than a few “eyebrow-raised” moments at some people who passed through the office.  The school year is starting up soon, so we are seeing a lot of lost people looking for admissions or advising.  How they find their way to our office when the people who are supposed to be there can’t seem to ever discover where we are is beyond me.

Outside of work, I decided to host a social “Season” on the blogs — you should take a look at it and host an event!  The more people who participate, the more fun it will be!

I got to go out on Friday night Continue reading If We Were Having Coffee (6)

If We Were Having Coffee (5)

Have I mentioned how much I enjoy this feature?
Hmm..it’s supposed to be a beautiful day here today, so let’s grab our coffee outside.  Enjoy the sun before it gets too hot today, and before it starts spending its days tucked behind the clouds.

I’m actually looking forward to a somewhat laid-back week and weekend coming up.  Today I feel kind of like I’ve been running a marathon, it seems like there’s just been so much happening.

This week I spent much of my time wrangling HTML, fonts, and wording.  At work I’m working on a manual about my job, and also helping revamp our webpage so… lots of word-crafting, and playing with HTML to get pages how I want them.  On top of that, I’ve been coming home and finding myself wrangling more layout and HTML over on Disparate Threads – I have a vision for how I want things to work, and realized that I have enough content now that I can start creating the bones for that vision… and hopefully Continue reading If We Were Having Coffee (5)

Celebrate the Small Things… so necessary! (6)

So… this morning.
As I pried myself out of bed and tumbled into the shower I grumbled about how it was still dark outside.  And how, though the Northern Lights may well be visible from where I live tonight, it would mean staying up later than I may be able to stay awake.  Why do all the cool things happen when I need to be sleeping?

As I made breakfast I grumbled about the fact that construction near my normal bus-stop means I will have to do more walking and have a far less convenient time grabbing groceries I need on my way home tonight.

As I got off the bus, I grumbled in my head a sarcastic apology to the guy sitting next to me who seemed greatly inconvenienced by the fact that he had to pull his face away from his phone to stand up in order for me to get off at my stop.

As I waited in line at my coffee cart, I grumbled in my head about the high-schoolers who were spending far too long figuring out what they wanted to order — and how the other coffee place I like is now going to be replaced by a Starbucks, and how long the lines are at everything now that school is back in session.  And how it’s theoretically fall (I mean, school is back in session, and the leaves are falling from the trees) but it’s still hot outside and I can’t wear sweatshirts to work anyhow.  And….

It was about then that I decided that today I seem to be caught somewhere between being a crotchety old person and a three-year-old desperately in need of a nap,

Perhaps time to step back and participate in one of those weekly blog-hops that I enjoy, Celebrate the Small Things.  Hosted by VikLitDiana Wilder, LG Keltner @ Writing Off the Edge, Katie @ TheCyborg Mom, and CaffeMaggieato @ mscoffeehouse.  This is a time to celebrate those little (and sometimes not so little) things in life. Continue reading Celebrate the Small Things… so necessary! (6)

The Redefining Disability Project Post #2– On Definitions

The questions posed at the end of the article are really a great start for exploring this topic:
What social definitions/labels have others applied to you? What definitions or labels have you chosen for yourself?
When you hear the word disability, what do you think of?
What do you think about current media portrayals of people with disabilities?
My own thoughts and reflections on these questions will (hopefully) come soon!

If We Were Having Coffee… #4

Come on in, today I don’t have the energy for a coffee shop.  I didn’t get shopping so …  I know there’s some sugar and maybe some milk if you want it.  But, coffee, there is most certainly coffee.  Me, though, I suppose I should probably refrain.  Friday I ended up having so much coffee that I probably should detox if I want any hope of it helping me on Monday morning.

How has your week and weekend been?  What have I been up to?  Well….

It was a strange week for me — Monday was a holiday, and then Friday I had to go in for Jury Duty so, it was kind of a three-day week for me.  Yet, I managed to do some web-redesigning, manual-writing, and training in some new parts of the job — a short but highly productive week!

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Claw machine!

Thursday night I met up with a friend I always have a good time with.  We planned on dinner and drinks, and — after a long visit over dinner and drinks — we decided to try the claw-machine in the entry of the restaurant.  It was so much fun — a lot of fun… and we decided we wanted more.  So I consulted with my local video-arcade expert (okay, really he’s the go-to for pinball machine locations, but I figured that would be a good start — and is it strange to  be able to respond to “I wonder if there is somewhere we could play more games like that at this hour” with “I’ve got a guy for that, let me make a call.”)

We ended up somewhere that we could play nickel games and claw machines for a  trying to get tickets and prizes… and stayed there for a while burning our way through the time with laughter and fun.  At some moments I’m pretty sure I reverted to a five-year-old (I know I did when I was picking my prizes!)  It was spectacular.

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Editing on the netbook screen was a challenge… three windows, tiny-print…but I made it work!

Friday morning I ended up getting excused from Jury Duty pretty early on, so put the rest of that day writing… well, editing, honestly.  I also exploring the downtown of the town I grew up in, an area I had really not spent much time in.  However, I kept going back to the coffee shop.. and having more coffee…. so… much… coffee…  But, Callie has been wrangled!  I am quite nearly done editing her sections and then I can let her take a break for a while while I move on to the others, so it may have been worth the coffee overload!

An amazing rainbow in a fountain -- I loved spotting this treasure!
An amazing rainbow in a fountain — I loved spotting this treasure!

I topped off the evening with a lovely visit with Mom and Grandma, enjoying talking with them both till way later than any of us probably should have been awake.

Saturday… oh Saturday.  Saturday was the reason I didn’t head back to where I’ve been staying, because on Saturday I was needed for some work at my Mom’s.  Up early, with a friend coming over to help unload a POD of stuff.   According to the pedometer on my phone I did over 3500 steps between 8 and noon, as the heat climbed to 90. (I ended the day with 5,495, pretty good for me.. but man are my feet going to hate me in the morning).

Unloading was kind of crazy, playing box-and-furniture-Tetris to get things into their other temporary storage locations.  But it was really nice to 1) be able to sustain the energy to help (and to have a friend, and my brother, who took on some of the lifting and moving when I needed to take it a little slower and deal with the box-jenga details.) and 2) to be so productive!  What a way to kick-start my day.

Kind of wanted to take a nap after that, but I had a scheduled afternoon theology-book group to go to (we’re slowly starting into Bonhoeffer’s  The Cost of Discipleshipthis was our first meeting).  It ended up easing into a 6-hour catch-up and theology and general life conversation with a friend I have known since we were very little but haven’t gotten to hang out with a whole lot since we were probably in Elementary school.

It was a weekend were I was being reminded of why I love theology and theological discussion — and of some of the  challenges I face in doing such.  Sometimes there aren’t words to quite explain what I want to say (a truly frustrating problem when “words” are your craft), and often times words have so many meanings that you have to dig beyond the words to understand what you are all actually speaking about.  It’s a challenge… and I love it.