It is banned book week once more, a week to celebrate literacy and reading.
I haven’t been keeping track of banned book weeks for the past couple of years and this year I decided to take a look.
This year’s top ten list of banned books from the ALA include:
George by Alex Gino Reasons: Challenged, banned, and restricted for LGBTQIA+ content, conflicting with a religious viewpoint, and not reflecting “the values of our community”
Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You by Ibram X. Kendi and Jason Reynolds Reasons: Banned and challenged because of author’s public statements, and because of claims that the book contains “selective storytelling incidents” and does not encompass racism against all people
All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely Reasons: Banned and challenged for profanity, drug use, and alcoholism, and because it was thought to promote anti-police views, contain divisive topics, and be “too much of a sensitive matter right now”
Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson Reasons: Banned, challenged, and restricted because it was thought to contain a political viewpoint and it was claimed to be biased against male students, and for the novel’s inclusion of rape and profanity
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie Reasons: Banned and challenged for profanity, sexual references, and allegations of sexual misconduct by the author
Something Happened in Our Town: A Child’s Story About Racial Injustice by Marianne Celano, Marietta Collins, and Ann Hazzard, illustrated by Jennifer Zivoin Reasons: Challenged for “divisive language” and because it was thought to promote anti-police views
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee Reasons: Banned and challenged for racial slurs and their negative effect on students, featuring a “white savior” character, and its perception of the Black experience
Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck Reasons: Banned and challenged for racial slurs and racist stereotypes, and their negative effect on students
The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison Reasons: Banned and challenged because it was considered sexually explicit and depicts child sexual abuse
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas Reasons: Challenged for profanity, and it was thought to promote an anti-police message
The list has changed a lot since the last time I looked at it, and I don’t remember when that was. A few years back anyway.
I have heard of only four books: The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison, Of Mice and Men by John Steinback, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee and The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie.
I have read only two: Of Mice and Men by John Steinback and To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. Of Mice and Men was required reading in school and I remember nothing of it.
It seems George has been on the list for the past few years and I hadn’t even heard of it.
All American Boys has “too much of a sensitive matter right now” as a reason to ban it and I really don’t know what that means. I wonder if that means there will come a time when it is not banned because the matter is no longer sensitive.
Death scenes should be meaningful, yes? I think so. If not meaningful, they should at least be memorable. They stick with you. Maybe you return to it, over and over again in some fashion.
These are some of the most memorable death scenes I recall.
Charlotte from Charlotte’s Web. I read this book over and over again in childhood. The death of Charlotte – the first time I heard it, it was very shocking. Less shocking, obviously, the second and third and fourth time I reread it. But I think her death is one of the reasons why I reread this book so often.
Sergeant Bothari from the Miles Vorkosigan books. He was both a rapist, and if I remember the books right, a victim of rape. He was a torturer and also mentally disabled. He also protected Miles throughout his childhood. Yet I feel his death was just. Perhaps his life is a tragedy, always heading that since birth.
Henry from The Time Traveler’s Wife. I had a lot of problems with this book, but for some reason Henry’s death sticks out in my mind. Henry loses his feet and then is shot to death while time traveling by his wife’s brother. His death seems more memorable to me then the whole book. Which is a bit odd, I suppose.
Rue from the Hunger Games. Really, there were a lot of deaths in this series, but who can forget this scene? And how important it was to the rest of the series?
Dorothea from Black Jewels. Anne Bishop does revenge really, really well. Dorothea is enemy number one in this series and her death was perfect.
So . . . books. Libraries are closed, bookstores are closed. But! Books can still be ordered online and downloaded from your favorite platform. Ebooks from libraries are a thing.
Including the Internet Archive. It seems the Internet Archive has more recent books. I have known of the Internet Archive existence for quite some time, but I thought it had only old books, books that are so old they are in the public domain.
I had the impression – somehow! – that the National Archive held only old books. I supposed that is because I have only ever gone looking for old books on it. Alice in Wonderland, The adventures of Tom Sawyer, a book on the birds of India someone wrote when they traveled to India during the British Raj, old dusty books like that.
I wasn’t even aware they had any other kind of books even available. I suppose I wasn’t paying attention, but I am shocked. Shocked they had recent books available at all, let alone that they decided to make some kind of national emergency library.
So today is the first day of April. The sky is a cloudless blue, flowers are blooming, trees are growing leaves. Looks like a lovely spring day outside; I just cannot go outside to enjoy it. Because of the coronavirus.
I fear I will miss spring entirely. I feel spring itself has become an April Fool’s Joke.
But! I can enjoy pictures of spring. I can even enjoy videos of cherry trees in DC:
It looks pretty! One day maybe I will go visit.
And, also, I feel that this is a good time to revisit the Daffodils poem. Is it more summer than spring? Anyway, I was thinking of it today.
Daffodils by William Wordsworth
I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.
Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.
The waves beside them danced, but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not be but gay,
In such a jocund company:
I gazed’and gazed’but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:
For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.
I’ve been reading The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon. It’s a long book, almost a thousand pages, and a bit slow at times.
It has many things I like – dragons, magic, myth, great characters. It has what feels like centuries of history.
But the thing that stands out in my mind right now is that this world remembers a past pandemic. In one city, outsiders or those harboring them can be killed or imprisoned. Because maybe they carry the disease.
Even privateers were not willing to land there; they rowed their charges only close enough that they could wade in, because of the risk of getting the disease.
There is a lot to focus on because there is a lot going on in this story. But the thing that has caught my attention is this ancient pandemic. In the story so far, it feels like it was over a long time ago. I could be wrong, but I am still pretty early in the story.
It is just – centuries later, people still react to some people as though are carrying the disease. It must have been quite terrible while it was happening.
It makes me wonder how this current coronavirus will affect the future. It is quite terrible now and things only promise to get worse in the coming weeks.
Well, we have to survive it first, and I am sure this country will survive it. How much damage will be sustained – that is the question. The very question. A lot of damage – economic, health – and I wish I knew how it would change the world.
It is a bit anxiety-inducing, to not know really how much damage the novel coronavirus will leave behind.
My last post was just under a year ago, and back then, life was normal. Today, life is not normal.
Even a month ago, life was normal.
Hopefully, the changes the coronavirus has wrought in my life are not permanent and I won’t have to get used to them. Changes such as being terrified to go outside and quite possibly brush up against someone. Anyone, really.
Most people who get it are supposed to recover, but I am not reassured. What if I am not most people?
This will pass. It might take weeks, but it will pass. I am hopeful summer won’t be ruined. But, even if it is, there is always next summer to look forward to.
Until then, everyone needs to avoid everyone else. The goal has become to avoid other people.