Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Banned Books Week

This week is Banned Books Week, an American Library Association annual event which celebrates our right to read the books we chose free from censorship. Although many equate banning books with the past it is still something that is going on across the United States and across the world. In communities everywhere people are petitioning to ban books from public and school libraries, some towns even have a formal process through which someone can challenge a book. As someone who loves books and who grew up with the priveledge of being able to read whatever interested me, I find it sad that people would actively try to keep books out of the hands of children.

Books are an amazing thing, they can take us to far off lands and teach us about ancient cultures, they can open our minds an let imagine we are kings and queens or magicians and wizards, they can teach us lessons of the past all while preparing us for the future. By reading books like The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn I learned about slavery and prejudice and accepting people for who they are and not going by what they look like, The Lord of the Flies tought about human nature and what might happen in the absence of law, and Harry Potter reminded us of what it was like to believe in magic, in friendship and in our own power to perservere. I love books and I can't wait to instill that same love into my children. I look forward to the day that people stop worrying about how books might damage society and realize all the things that can be learned if you keep an open mind and an open heart.
ALA: Banned Books Week: Celebrating the Freedom to Read
September 26-October 3

Banned Books Week (BBW) is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read and the importance of the First Amendment. Held during the last week of September, Banned Books Week highlights the benefits of free and open access to information while drawing attention to the harms of censorship by spotlighting actual or attempted bannings of books across the United States.

Intellectual freedom—the freedom to access information and express ideas, even if the information and ideas might be considered unorthodox or unpopular—provides the foundation for Banned Books Week. BBW stresses the importance of ensuring the availability of unorthodox or unpopular viewpoints for all who wish to read and access them.

The books featured during Banned Books Week have been targets of attempted bannings. Fortunately, while some books were banned or restricted, in a majority of cases the books were not banned, all thanks to the efforts of librarians, teachers, booksellers, and members of the community to retain the books in the library collections. Imagine how many more books might be challenged—and possibly banned or restricted—if librarians, teachers, and booksellers across the country did not use Banned Books Week each year to teach the importance of our First Amendment rights and the power of literature, and to draw attention to the danger that exists when restraints are imposed on the availability of information in a free society.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Host

The Host
By: Stephenie Meyer

I picked this book up after reading the Twilight series and thouroughly enjoying it. I was interested to see what Stephenie Meyer would do with a different genre, and needless to say I was not dissapointed. At 619 pages, this is a lengthy read, but ultimately a worthwhile one. This book was a little harder to get into then some others, but once you buy into the concept, it really clicks along and in the end leaves you really wanting Ms. Meyer to write a follow up.

The Host revolves around the concept of life on earth post alien invasion, for both the surviving humans who are in hiding and the aliens, or "Souls" who are using human bodies as hosts. The main charecter in this story in the Wanderer, a Soul who has lived in many host bodies, from plants to bears, on many planets. The story follows the Wanderer as she is implanted in a particularly rebellious host named Melanie. While most host simply dissapear as the Soul takes over, Melanie remains and struggles with Wanderer for control until they reach a contentious relationship that eventually turns into a strange sort of friendship. Through this relationship Wanderer forges relationships with other humans and ultimately must decide where she stands in what is a war between the Souls and the remaining Humans.
This really is an excellent book that I think is ultimately about the relationships we form under the most unexpected circumstances, how those relationships are tainted by prejudice and how we can ultimately come to accept both eachother and ourselves.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Chosen by a Horse and
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian

I've just finished reading two really great books (and picked up three more, I'm one of those people). One is a memior by Susan Richards and the other is a hilarious young adult novel by Sherman Alexie. Both are quick and easy reads and neither should be missed.

Chosen by a Horse
By: Susan Richards

This is a heartbreaking and heartwarming memior about finding yourself and learning how to be open to love again. When some neglected horses need new homes, Richards answers the call. When the horse she picks won't load in the trailer, Richards takes the one who will, and so she ends up bringing Lay Me Down into her life. By telling the stories of Lay Me Down, and her other three horses, Richards lets the reader into her life and her journey to find herself again. This book is honest and humourous and it will leave you with tears in her eyes before it's over. Anyone who owns horses, or anyone who has a pet for a family member, will appreciate the relationships Richards has forged with her family, both 2 and 4 legged. This is an excellent read, that really shouldn't be passed by. Richards has also written a follow up book, Chosen Forever, which promises to relay even more stories of the lessons Lay Me Down taught.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian
By: Sherman Alexie

I read this book in one night. It is an awesome, funny, laugh-out-loud book that is based on Alexie's own childhood. This story is about a young cartoonist named Junior who lives on the Spokane Indian Reservation. Junior wants more than a reservation life so he leaves his reservation school to attend the neighboring all white school. Alexie tells Junior's story in a poinant manner, never shying away from the hardships and prejudice that Junior faces, but always with lacing the narrative with compassion and humor. The story is aided by Junior's cartoons, which help illustrate Junior's plight and point of view. Alexie also includes a reader's guide at the end of the book, which makes this book not only a great story, but a great resource. Technically this is a young-adult book, but if you are looking for an insightful, hilarious quick read this is it.