Banned Books Week (Sept 27 – Oct 3)

BBW-logoWe are in the midst of Banned Book Week, that time each year when readers and authors alike scan articles and essays about attempts to ban books from libraries and schools over the last year and wonder “What the heck is going on here?”

I’ve had the pleasure for the last three years of doing the book reviews for my local NPR station (WKAR) as part of their show Current State, and each year I try to take on another book that has faced the always surreal argument for censorship.

  • This year I reviewed The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger. You can listen to my discussion or read my review via this page.
  • Last year, I reviewed Mark Twain’s classic The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. You can check that our here.
  • During my first year as part of Current State, I discussed the importance of this holiday and why we need to reflect on it via this audio essay.

I’ve also snuck in over the years other authors that have faced censorship, including (with links) Ray Bradbury, Kurt Vonnegut, Judy Blume, Harper Lee, and J.K. Rowling. In the future, I will be reviewing Margaret Atwood and Salman Rushdie, so this is not slowing down for me anytime soon.

I hope you enjoy checking out some of these book reviews and try to read something a little controversial this week.

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New WKAR Book Review: J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye

Current StateNext week is Banned Books Week, so today on WKAR’s Current State I took on one of the most banned books in American Literature, The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger.

You can listen to my new review here: http://wkar.org/post/book-review-jd-salingers-catcher-rye

If you would rather read my review, you can do so below.

Hey, did you know Current State has a podcast? If you subscribe, you can download episodes and segments (and you can find me every other Thursday). Here is a link to find it on iTunes- https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/wkar-fm-current-state/id594609653?mt=2

If you want to check out my other book reviews for WKAR’s Current State, you can do so via links on this page. Continue reading

Banned Books Week 2014

Books! Everywhere! Books!Wouldn’t it be neat if we had a week to celebrate Shakespeare? A week when everyone was to read Charles Dickens or Mark Twain? A day even when everyone was supposed to talk like a character in a Jane Austen novel (as compared to a pirate)?

Nah, we book lovers get Banned Books Week. Where all of us book readers get to shake our heads collectively and wonder what others are thinking. The funny thing is most people that try to ban a book don’t actually read the book in question. A few years ago there was one protestor who strived to get Harry Potter banned from her school library. It made national news. She was discussed on all the Potter forums. What we discovered later is that she had never read Harry Potter and was worried it would drive kids to Satanism.

I don’t even know where I would start if I was to have an argument with such a perspective.

My grandmother used to be a member of her local library board. The reason she would give for being on the board was to fight people trying to ban books from the shelves. She was the voice of reason in a very conservative community and she kept up her end of the battle long after Parkinson’s made her life difficult. She will always be one of my heroes.

Last year on WKAR, I gave a commentary on their daily radio show Current State about Banned Books Week. Here is an excerpt from the beginning:

The playwright Anton Chekov has this great rule for writing a play. To summarize it, if a gun appears in the first act, it has to go off by the last act.

What Chekov is tapping into is that a gun is threatening, a gun can kill. An audience remembers it is there, and each and every playgoer expects that sooner or later, for better or worse it will be fired. I remember once I saw a production of “Hamlet” by the Royal Shakespeare Company, and they showed Hamlet with a gun in the first act. He carried it in his coat wherever he went on that stage, his concealed weapon, and we always knew it was there, expecting it sooner or later to cause destruction. Because a gun will always be fired, fictional or real, and there are always consequences for one being around.

The funny thing is, there are pockets in our country where people feel more at ease with guns than books.

You can listen to my complete thoughts (or read them) via this link.  I will be appearing on the show again this week, but this time to discuss the importance of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain, another fighter in this literary battle. I hope you will check it out.

Well, if this is the only holiday people will give us book lovers, we might as well make the most out of it. Decorate your books shelves with garland, start a book club, pick up that classic you never got around to finishing, turn off the TV, and… most importantly… read, everyone, read.

Happy Holiday!

On WKAR: Talking About Banned Books Week

Current StateI did something a little different this week in my appearance on WKAR’s Current State. Instead of sharing a new book review, I decided to take on the idea of Banned Books Week. I try to explain both sides of the issue, and offer my option for tackling “unwanted” books.  I’m pretty proud of this piece, I hope you will check it out.

You can listen to my discussion via this link- http://wkar.org/post/book-review-banned-books-week

If you would rather read my commentary, you can do so below after the jump. And you can learn more about Banned Books Week via a site by the American Library Association (here). Continue reading