Monday, May 30, 2011

Summer 2011 : Reading the Good (Banned, Challenged & Censored) Stuff

A Spring semester project on censorship has inspired my 2011 summer reading agenda.  The books are listed in a variety of sources: ALA | Frequently Challenged Books; a MnCLU 1983 survey titled “A Report of a Survey On Censorship In Public Elementary And High School Libraries And Public Libraries In Minnesota.”; Focus on the Family (FOF); an article on Censorship and Metaphors by Fenice Boyd and Nancy Bailey; The Music Man

With the majority of the books picked out, I began brainstorming how to blog about it.  Then a Minneapolis bookstore, Boneshaker Books*, launched a 30 Days of Reading challenge for June.  30 Days of Reading gave me an initiative to tap into my occasional Type A personality and create a formal plan of action.  Wha-lah - Summer 2011 Book Itinerary:
  • Differences in Definition of Censorship, Challenged and Banned.  (June 1st)
    • First Book : In the Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak circa 1970
    (Showed up on nearly every Challenged/Banned/Censored list  – almost every year.  I didn’t know it was a kid’s picture book until I went to the library to pick it up.)

    • Second Book : Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume circa 1970
    (Thanks to my Jesus background and FOF, I have yet to read a single Judy Blume book.  Seeing this book on the list of the 1983 survey, about the same time it was denied from my repertoire, inspired a semester-long search digging into censorship via FOF.)
    • Third Book : The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier circa 1974
    (A book I know nothing about other than it shows up on pretty much every banned, challenged book list out there.  I remember fellow English Ed majors discussing it back in the day – but I’m pretty clueless.)
    • Fourth Book : Christine by Stephen King circa 1983
    (So many Stephen King to choose from.  So little time.  Often lists just say “all books” by Stephen King – as they also do to Judy Blume.  I chose this one because…. Duh.)

    • Fifth Book : Briar Rose by Jane Yolen circa 1992
    (First heard about it in the article by Bailey and Boyd on Censorship Metaphors.  Was BURNED in a homophobic book burning back in the 1990s.  Whenever a book about the Holocaust is burned by the Christian Right – brownie points.  Yep – that was a really tasteless, multi-layered pun.  Something I just discovered?!  Yolen references Anne Sexton’s poem by the same title from Sexton’s Transformation collection – a book I kinda, sorta wrote about back in 2008.)

    • Sixth Book : Animal Farm by George Orwell circa 1946
    (This book is the only one actually censored by the government.  I’ve balked at reading this one for years.  I hope the timing is right.) 

    • Seventh Book : The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam circa 11th Century and 19th Century (Edward FitzGerald's translation)
    (My dad was a Music Man – and his favorite musical was – The Music Man.  This poem shows up throughout the movie as an example of trashy literature pushed by the town librarian.  If you’re lucky and live in the TC – I’m planning a Music Man viewing party with my Library Buds to top off the summer.)

    • Poetry AlternativeHowl by Allen Ginsberg circa 1956
    (A classic.  I normally avoid male beatnik writers.  Love the women.  I roll my eyes at most of the Beat men.  Maybe Ginsberg will turn that trend around. O – and it was seized by the government.)
    I don’t expect to finish all of these before the end of June, but follow me through June for daily Tweets or blogs about what I’m reading – and what others are reading.  I find reviews pretty boring and often totally useless so I’m going to focus more on reviewing reviews of the books – especially from the vantage point of Focus on the Family.  Things might get personal – but I’ll try to keep it Jesus-Free.

    FYI: With the exception of George Orwell (1984), I have not yet read any of the books or authors on the list. Yep - I'm a Judy Blume, Stephen King, & Maurice Sendak Virgin.
    My biggest challenge?  Reading books I may not want to read.  I’ve quit forcing books on myself.  I highly discourage it.  Timing is everything when it comes to reading and love - so I may wander off the chosen path a bit – but I do intend on starting AND finishing the books listed above – before I’m back to reading required reading – on Censorship.  Yep – I'm taking a library class dedicated to Censorship next fall!!! 

    Love and Thanks to Minneapolis Central Library! I couldn’t afford this Summer Reading List without you!  Seriously.

    *I’m proud to volunteer at Boneshaker Books.  If you stumble across this blog series and don’t live close enough to the Minneapolis store to buy books there, you’re going to have to overlook my bias and drool from a distance.  If you’re from the TwinCities, get your bloomin’ arse in there and Buy A Book Already!

    1. What books are you planning to read, or avoid reading, this summer?
    2. What books have you read that you know were at some point censored or banned from a library or your home?

    teandoranges (moi)
    30 Days of Reading
    Boneshaker Books


    krissthesexyatheist said...

    Awh buddy, you are reading so much more than me. I think i've been reading the same three books since winter. so not good. hope all is well tho. Awesome.


    Christine Vyrnon said...

    Hey KRIS!!! Good to see you here on the sunny side of the street. Thanks for stopping by! All is well - perhaps even awesome :) Books are overrated sometimes. - I know you Read - lots. Blogs and news and tweets count, imo. Thanks for spreading your awesomeness around :)

    Brandon said...

    Great minds sometimes do think alike. I took a class on the beats in college. The class quickly degraded into me writing diatribes against Jack Kerouac and Alan Ginsberg. The female writers were the real heroes, tragic heroes, of the beat movement.

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