Happy Sunday, everyone! I am here to announce the arrival of Banned Books Week, a marvelous time of year when we revel in our freedom to read.
It may surprise you to learn how many banned or challenged books you’ve already read. Take the Harry Potter and Hunger Games series, The Kite Runner, Fifty Shades of Grey, and John Green’s Looking for Alaska, for starters. Not to mention classics such as The Great Gatsby, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The Grapes of Wrath, and virtually anything by Vonnegut. One of my favorite authors, Sherman Alexie, holds a permanent place on the ALA’s list of Frequently Challenged Books with The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. Particularly with young adult literature, it’s difficult to find a title that someone has not found fault with at one time or another.
In honor of this momentous occasion, here are some of the silliest reasons for book banning I discovered whilst preparing for the week:
- Arabian Nights, or One Thousand and One Nights: “It caused a wave of rapes.”
- Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?, by Bill Martin: Author had the misfortune of sharing his name with a professor who wrote a book on Marxism. Basically, they banned the wrong book. (Not that banning the other book would have been any better, but come on.)
- Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, by Dee Brown: Too controversial. According to a Wisconsin school official in the 70s, “If there’s a possibility something might be controversial, then why not eliminate it?”
- The Diary of Anne Frank: Banned for being too depressing.
- Harriet the Spy, by Louise Fitzhugh: Teaches children to spy.
- The Scarlet Letter, by Nathaniel Hawthorne: Banned for being pornographic and obscene. (By the way, the book contains exactly zero sex scenes.)
- Shel Silverstein’s A Light in the Attic and Where the Sidewalk Ends: The former “encourages children to break dishes so they won’t have to dry them” while the latter promotes cannibalism.
In closing, we encourage you to celebrate your First Amendment rights by checking out a banned or challenged book. If you need suggestions, be sure to ask a staff member or check out our Banned Book displays. I’ll be reading Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale; how about you?
When a construction site on an old “ghost field” is being prepped in Norfolk, England, a downed WWII airplane is dug up. This buried airplane has a body in it. Elly Griffiths’ mystery The Ghost Fields tells the story of the “ghost fields” which are long abandoned WWII airfields of England. When forensic archaeologist Ruth Galloway is called in, it is revealed that the body had been placed in the plane recently. The body is identified as Fred Blackstock who supposedly was lost in a plane crash over the ocean. Why is his family so upset by the place that his body was discovered? Why are other members of the Blackstock family murdered or attacked? The story has complicated roots in past family history and richly uses the landscape of flood prone Norfolk, England.
I’m reading Kitchens of the Great Midwest which is a debut novel by J. Ryan Standal. The novel celebrates some of the unique Midwest foods and also the strong bonds of family. Eva Thorvald isn’t aware that the people she knows as her parents are really her aunt and uncle. How they came to care for her came about through tragedy, but it worked. Eva has an intense ability to recognize flavors and a very experimental palate. The book has heartbreak, humor, and good food. Do you know you can make money on side bets if you have the ability to eat platters of food heavily laced with hot peppers? Have you ever wondered what the baking competition can be like at a county fair? This is a book filled with venison, walleye, Caesar salad, bar cookies, and the most important ingredient—love.
In my opinion, journalists often write the best books. Kati Marton has written an enjoyable memoir, Paris a Love Story, which focuses mainly on the periods of her life which were spent in Paris. During the sixties she was an American student at the Sorbonne. Paris was a time of wonder and enjoyment, and then the student riots began. After she went home she drifted into reporting, eventually becoming a TV news reporter. When she was transferred to Bonn, Germany she met and married ABC news anchor Peter Jennings. Time in Paris was always a part of the background. A second marriage was to renowned diplomat Richard Holbrooke and they were frequently in Paris together. The book is a window on an exciting, absorbing life and a beautiful and charming city.