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.

Advertisements

My Ten Favorite Books: In My Head…

BooksBusy editing… busy reading… busy reviewing… and it’s summer.

Oh, I’m still here, just locking down my new book. And the new Harper Lee is out today (wow, it is sooo weird to type that). and I need to read it fast for my book reviews.

But I haven’t forgotten about this site! No you guys are still in my heart and head, so I thought I would share a quick list.

If you ever want to get into the head of an author ask them their 10 favorite books. Nothing will give you a better insight into their mind and creativity. So here is mine…

1. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen- Easily, one of the few perfect novels in literature. Not a word out of place.

2. Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut- My favorite from one of my favorite authors.

3. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald- Great to read, better to read aloud.

4. The Abortion by Richard Brautigan- The obscure work in the list. Love this book and the bookstore in it (which would be called in today’s world “Amazon.com.”)

5. Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury- Beautiful, beautiful…

6. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis- When I was a kid and I visited new houses I would check every closet for Narnia. (Honestly, I still do that from time to time.)

7. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee- You read this, right? Kind of a big deal in American Literature, especially right now (new book and all).

8. To The Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf- A huge influence on how I set up family scenes and develop characters.

9. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens- This is a story stolen by the business of Christmas, but once it was just a wonderful novella. Well, it still is and it is great.

10. Middlemarch by George Elliot- A literary epic, grand and at the same time filled with wonderful little moments and characters. Also one of the most beautiful endings.

Now I’m off to read this new book by Harper Lee (again, crazy we get to say that).

My Time Lost in Books…

A fellow writerLike I said in my post “The Five Books That Made Me” I can get pretty sentimental about books and my history in reading when one of my novels is about to be released.

It’s like a kid going off to college! Packing the bags could be working with the editor, the drive there could be finalizing everything with the publisher, and dropping them off is the big goodbye. So that’s me this week, the parent trying to hide the tears.

Okay, I’m a little surprised this analogy is working…. What would that make the aftermath of the publishing? No idea there, but the grades are reviews, right? Perfect. Hopefully, my book won’t party too much.

A Jane Austen Daydream is set for release on April 30 exclusively via amazon.com, ending a project of years in the making. I could not be happier with the novel and I look forward to hearing what everyone thinks of it. Until then I am going to continue to enjoy my sentimentality. Care to join me? Here are ten of my favorite posts on my site around books:

  1. Missing My Vonnegut MomentVonnegut
  2. Me, Myself & Charles Dickens
  3. I get James Joyce… Well, no, not really
  4. Ray Bradbury
  5. Maurice Sendak: Childhood Visionary
  6. J.R.R. Tolkien; The Crazy & Magical Grandfather
  7. Say Hello to Mr. DeVere, I Mean Shakespeare…
  8. Hidden Away: The Marvel of Disappearing Writers
  9. The Folio Society: Celebrating Literature
  10. Living With Snoopy

Only a few days left!

The Five Books That Made Me

CompassOur lives are filled with landmarks. And just like the sites that dot our landscape, these moments dot our lives, creating the definition of who we are. For me, I can see them like a map spread out in front of me from movies to TV shows to experiences to relationships to plays to books… oh… a lot of books.

I was the kid who would come home with a pile of library books each weekend, who later would take his bike out to only ride to libraries, having three in my vicinity to choose from with a separate card for each. If I could have had a collection of cards with aliases I would have done it. See, I would lose summer days just wandering through the aisles like visiting old friends, allowing my fingers to grace along the covers as I walked past, secretly hoping that a book would reach out and grab me.

I always get a little sentimental when a book is released (A Jane Austen Daydream). I can’t help it. This is a new kind of landmark; I’m adding to my own landscape now. And if I am lucky my work might find its way on to another’s map. See, that is the thing for me. It’s not about money, it never was.  It was always about the love of a good yarn, with surprises and new adventures.

When I look back at my life there are five books that stand out the most in inspiring me.  This is not to say they are my favorites, or what I consider the greatest works; no, not at all.

They are just the ones that grabbed me just when I needed them to. Continue reading

The Folio Society: Celebrating Literature

I have never understood why we readers treat literature so poorly.

We confine our classics to cheap paperbacks, five-dollar hard copies, bulk versions, and we throw them in bargain bins alongside fake biographies of yesterday’s celebrities.

Worse, sometimes we even add zombies to them…

Why aren’t readers more shocked by this treatment? These are our Rembrandts, our Van Goghs, our Monets. Basically, the classic books are what makes literature art, and yet we treat them so utterly, utterly horribly. Its like we take them for granted; we even dare write in their margins and use highlighters on them! (Okay, I did that too in college, but you get where I am going with this.) Continue reading