Sunday, August 23, 2009

Highly Recommended

If you have not read ‘A Virtuous Women’ by Kaye Gibbons, you are missing out on a great love story. I first read this book in 1998 and it is by far one of my favorites. It is not on the banned books list, but I highly recommend it.

Beautifully written, ‘A Virtuous Women’, is the quiet love story of Ruby Pitt Woodrow, daughter of a rich farmer, and Jack Stokes, a tenant farmer. At first they seem an unlikely match, Ruby, although 20 years younger than Jack, is already widowed. Jack, unattractive and unsuccessful, has never been married; both have had tough lives. Ruby is alienated from her parents due to her brief marriage prior to Jack, which was a disaster. She is working as a maid when she meets Jack. Together they find, if not what they were looking for, a sense of completeness. Early in the book, we know that Ruby dies from lung cancer and Jack is completely lost without her. Short and powerful read; an avid reader could finish it in one sitting. Be sure to have a box of Kleenex nearby, it will definitely move you to tears.

Although I haven’t yet read it, Kaye Gibbons is the author of another book with great reviews and it’s also on my list of books to read—‘Charms for the Easy Life’. Yes, I’m trying to make your ‘to read’ list as long as mine. :~)

The observance of Banned Books Week is a good excuse to pick up the highly acclaimed autobiography of Maya Angelou, ‘I Know Why the Caged Birds Sing’. Not that you need an excuse, this is definitely a must read.

At age three, Maya and her brother are sent to Stamps, AR to live with her grandmother after her parents are divorced. It is there that she experiences the horrors of racism and begins to lose her self-confidence. At age eight, she reunites with her mother in St. Louis but is sexually abused by her mother’s live-in boyfriend. At one point, she runs away and lives on the street and sleeps in cars. Finally, following a pregnancy at seventeen, she began to find her voice and is determined to become a strong woman and mother to her child. This is truly a rag to riches story that will keep you on edge ‘til the end.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Lime Tree Can't Bear Orange

“Lime Tree Can’t Bear Orange” by Amanda Smith. Yet another book you will not be able to put down! This one is uniquely based in Trinidad and tells the story of 16 y/o Celia who lives with her aunt in Tobago; she grew up with her aunt because her father ran off to England after her mother died from childbirth. Celia always felt like she didn’t belong and to make matters worse, she has to deal with her “fresh” step-uncle, Roman, who “could crawl under a snakes belly on stilts”. Roman eventually rapes her and Celia runs away toward another aunt who lives in Paris of Spain. On her journey, she gets sidetracked by an illness that leads her to working as a nanny for a rich family. There, her life is soon complicated by strong sexual tension with her employer. Poor Celia just cannot seem to get a break. Because of her past abuse, she cannot make the right decisions and the move she made that started off uplifting, quickly turns ugly. A lot of twist and turns throughout the book and a very shocking ending.

‘Lime Tree Can’t Bear Orange’ is currently not on the list of banned or challenged books, but be on the lookout for the published 2009 list, it’s bound to be on it.

Since I’ve already read ‘The Kite Runner’, I’m starting off my banned books challenge with ‘The Catcher in the Rye’. I realize that this is an old classic that many of you have already read. If so, feel free to discuss. Somehow, I missed it but I’m looking forward to catching up. Other must read classics on the list include “The Color Purple” by Alice Walker and “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee. Both are great books. Even if you’ve seen the movies, you will not be disappointed.

Only 41 days til Banned Books Week!!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

A National Celebration!!

Perfect timing for our banned book challenge. September 26-October 3 is 'Banned Books Week'! This event takes place every year during the last week of September and celebrates our freedom to read. Banned Books Week is the only national celebration of the freedom to read. It was launched in 1982 in response to a sudden surge in the number of challenges to books in schools, bookstores and libraries. More than a thousand books have been challenged since 1982. The challenges have occurred in every state and in hundreds of communities. People challenge books that they say are too sexual or too violent. They object to profanity and slang, and protest against offensive portrayals of racial or religious groups--or positive portrayals of homosexuals.

I've already posted five banned or challenged books on a previous post. Exercise your First Amendment rights--join us in reading as many banned books as possible by the end of Banned Books Week! I will post more titles periodically. If you find a banned book you're interested in reading that has not yet been posted, please share it with us. Also, let us know if you are having problems locating any of these books.

45 more days until Banned Books Week! Let's get started!!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Whose up for the Book Ban Challenge?

While scanning through the list of banned books, I realized that many of my personal favorites have been challenged. If you're up for the challenge, join 'Avid Readers Unite' in reading some of these books. There are so many on the list, it would take forever to read them all. But, I chose a few to get us started:

'The Kite Runner' by Khaled Hosseini
'The Catcher in the Rye' by JD Salinger
'The Chocolate War' by Robert Cormier
'Lolita' by Vladimir Nabokov
'Black Boy' by Richard Wright

As a reminder, although not on the book ban list, our book selection for the month of August is 'The Note' by Angela Hunt.

Here's an interesting fact:

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland was banned in China (1931) for portraying animals and humans on the same level, "Animals should not use human language."

Happy Reading Avid Readers!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Should certain books be banned?

Check out this recent article from 'The Huffington Post' and let me know what you think:

NEW YORK — Not everybody loves "The Kite Runner."
Khaled Hosseini's million-selling novel about friendship and betrayal between two Afghan boys, a book club favorite that became a feature film, was among the releases mostly likely to inspire complaints last year from parents, educators and others, the American Library Association announced Thursday.

"The Kite Runner," which includes a rape scene, has been criticized for offensive language and sexual content. A parent in Champaign, Ill., and a school board official in Morganton, N.C., were among those who challenged "The Kite Runner" last year.

The ALA listed 513 challenges last year, an increase of 93 from 2007, but well below the levels of 700 and higher in the 1990s. The ALA defines a challenge as a "formal, written complaint filed with a library or school requesting that materials be removed because of content or appropriateness."

For every challenge tallied, about four or five end up unreported, according to the ALA.
For the third year in a row, the most challenged book was "And Tango Makes Three," Justin Richardson's and Peter Parnell's award-winning picture story about two male penguins who become parents. "Tango" was cited for being anti-family, pro-gay and anti-religion.
Also high on the list were Philip Pullman's "Dark Materials" trilogy (complaints for being violent and anti-religious), Cecily von Ziegesar's "Gossip Girls" series (language, sexually explicit), Alvin Schwartz's "Scary Stories" (violence, occultism) and Stephen Chbosky's "The Perks of Being a Wallflower" (drugs, suicide, nudity, language).

ALA spokeswoman Macey Morales said that books were actually pulled at least 74 times last year. Those removed included Sherman Alexie's "The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian" (refers to masturbation), Jodi Picoult's "My Sister's Keeper" (sexually explicit) and Mark Bowden's "Black Hawk Down" (profanity).

In the fall, the library association will co-sponsor the 28th annual "Banned Books Week," a nationwide program founded in 1982 that highlights banned and challenged books. Thursday's list was released just days after "Banned Book Weeks" founder Judith Krug died of cancer at age 69.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

'The Kite Runner'

Just finished reading ‘The Kite Runner’. By the time I got to the end of the book, I was so connected and concerned about the characters, I wanted the story to go on and on. A tale of friendship, family, betrayal and redemption set in the midst of the invasion of Afghanistan. The author is really raw and vivid in his descriptions of the Afghan struggles---it will bring the strongest to tears. Can’t stop talking about this book. I wish all of my friends would read it.