Monthly Archives: September 2013

Censorship & Samuel L. Jackson

I realize that it is banned books week, and this is about movies, but the point that is made is the same either way.

This is not an appropriate video to watch with your children.  Seriously.

Don’t blame authors, libraries, schools, bookstores, or publishing companies because you can’t be bothered checking to see if Fifty Shades of Grey is an appropriate book for your “very advanced” twelve year old.  Read the summary.  Ask a librarian or teacher.  Use the internet.  Arrrrgh!

Oh, and for another banned book?  Do yourself a favor and pick up the audio book version of Go the F*ck to Sleep, read by Samuel L. Jackson, written by Adam Mansbach.  It’s on YouTube, but I don’t know if it’s official so I won’t post the link.  And in case you weren’t sure, it’s not a kids’ book.

Happy (adult) reading.

Christie

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Banned Book Week: The Testament of Mary

In honour of banned book week, a different perspective.  A guest post from a fabulous woman, a colleague and friend.

I needed to take a break from a particularly heavy book I was reading, so in a smug Richard Dawkinsian moment I decided on The Testament of Mary by Colm Toibin.

I had heard little about this book, only that the Mary in these pages didn’t believe that her son was the son of god in what seemed like a retelling of the bible in the style of Kazantzakis’ The Last Temptation of Christ.  I quickly realized that this was more broadly the story of any woman’s attempt to save her son and live with the consequences and that is why I ultimately liked this book.

Rather than the serene Mary that we are familiar with, we are presented with a woman who recognizes the futility of her son’s situation, flees for her own life and lives out her days in a bitter, paranoid seclusion. In one memorable scene she pulls a knife on a man for sitting in her dead son’s chair.
My favourite parts of the book are the scenes where her son’s followers visit her in her old age; they are writing a book about the events surrounding her son’s life and are encouraging her to report her experiences as would be consistent with their doctrine. Using a quick-witted humour and stubbornness, she refuses to play ball, instead focusing on details they don’t care about or points of view they don’t want to hear (“He gathered around him, I said, a group of misfits, who were only children like himself, or men without fathers, or men who could not look a woman in the eye. Men who were seen smiling to themselves, or who had grown old when they were still young. Not one of you was normal.”).

I recommend that you read this book whether you are secular, an open-minded Christian or just interested in reading about the life of an interesting woman living in interesting times. It’s a quick read, and you can impress your parents by reading a Man Booker prize nominee.

Melissa

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Banned : Scary Stories is Scary!

Anyone else remember this book?  I loved Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark as a kid.  I used to go into the garage, close the door, and read the stories to friends by flashlight.   The book gave you directions on how to read the stories for maximum scare factor, and some of them had a built in scare at the end, where you would do something or yell something to make your friends jump.  This, to us, was the height of entertainment.

The stories are gathered from older folklore and modern urban legends, the kind of classic chilling tales that end up being told over and over through generations.

Oddly, this is one of the most frequently challenged books, going back years.  The reasons listed vary, but are mostly that the book series mention the occult, satanism,  and violence.   Basically, the objection seems to be that the scary stories are… scary.

Now, I wouldn’t read these to a kindergarten class.  But these stories are aimed at eleven or twelve year olds, and that’s where they’re shelved in the book store.   Teachers are reading them to kids of that age.  Parents can feel free to make choices based on their knowledge of their own children, and whether they would find the book thrilling or nightmare-inducing.

The thing with banning a book is that no one gets to read it, not just the kids who maybe aren’t ready for it.   The kind of book that gets kids to decide on a sunny afternoon that they all want to listen to stories is a book you want kids to have access to.

This is a fantastic book to read aloud around Halloween, or on a night when the power goes out.

Happy (scary) reading!

Christie

 

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Backward Glass

Don’t start this book if you’re supposed to be going to sleep anytime soon.

Backward Glass is David Lomax’s first book, and I’m waiting for the next one already.  A teen version of The Time Traveler’s Wife comes to mind. Faster paced, though, and a lot more action.  

The book starts slowly, setting the stage, but once the story gets going it doesn’t let go.  I was planning on taking a nap two hours ago.  And doing laundry.  I blame you, David Lomax, for the bags under my eyes and the fact that my children will have nothing to wear to school tomorrow.

The book tackles the paradox of time travel: if something has happened, can it be changed if you go back in time?  Or is the present already including your having gone back in time, so you obviously didn’t manage to change it.   Or it wasn’t going to happen and it did because you changed it.  Or something.  You can give yourself brain cramps.

But if you could go back in time, and had a chance to prevent something terrible, isn’t it worth trying anyways?

Lomax did a fantastic job of managing to make a convoluted timeline smooth and fast-paced, and the plot twists will give you a crick in the neck.

Highly, highly recommended, for teens and adults alike.  There are some adult themes, and violence, so I would be going for 13+ for reading this, but as always, it depends on the kid.

Happy (sleepless) reading!

Christie

P.S.  At David’s request, I am including a link to buy the book Amazon as well as one to Indigo.  Because he’s a nice guy.

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Bibliophiliacs dot com !

Bibliophiliacs.com is live and open for business!

I am now the proud owner of bibliophiliacs.com.  The original link will still take you to the site, so no need to change any bookmarks.  Just wanted to share my excitement with you, and thank you for all your support.

You guys are why I write.

Christie

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Banned Books Week

This week, the week of September 22nd to September 29, is Banned Books Week.

This is the description that the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom (what an awesome thing) has on their website:

Banned Books Week is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read. Typically held during the last week of September, it highlights the value of free and open access to information. Banned Books Week brings together the entire book community –- librarians, booksellers, publishers, journalists, teachers, and readers of all types –- in shared support of the freedom to seek and to express ideas, even those some consider unorthodox or unpopular.

I’m going to do posts this week about banned books.  Some of the ones that have been banned and are still banned will surprised you, or maybe not if you’re more cynical than me.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower is the one I’m going to mention today.

It was challenged at the high school level, because it deals with  “drugs, alcohol, sex, homosexuality, and abuse.” Because, you know, teens never encounter any of those things.

Stephen Chbosky’s story is one that will feel familiar to many readers, because anyone who says being a teen was an entirely joyous, problem-free experience is lying.  A lot.

The book is written as a series of letters by a boy using the pseudonym “Charlie”, to an unknown recipient.  It’s his first year of high school, and he is starting it without his best friend, who killed himself the previous summer.

Charlie has to navigate the minefield of finding new friends, dealing with loss, relationships with girls, family tensions, the pressure of popularity, the temptations of drugs and alcohol… you know, adolescence.

I enjoyed the book a great deal, despite the memories of high school. Teen readers have also told me they enjoyed it, particularly the interesting, introspective ones.

When you’re a teen, feeling like someone else out there understands you, has felt how you feel, can be really important.  This is a book that needs to stay on the shelves.

Also, telling teens that a book has been banned is a great way to get them to read it.  Believe me, it works all the time.

Happy forbidden reading!

Christie

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Filed under Books, libraries, Review, Teen Books

Can’t Stop The Signal

It’s official: Serenity is back, albeit in graphic novel form.

Dark Horse has announced that they have signed Georges Jeanty, the illustrator behind the Buffy the Vampire Slayer graphic novel.

The comic will pick up where the Serenity movie left off, with the Alliance not very happy with Mal and crew after being embarrassed and defeated in spectacular fashion.

I am so excited.  All of the story lines I’ve been wondering about!  How will Zoe move on without Wash? What’s going to happen with Kaylee and Simon?  Will River get less crazy? For the love of all things nerdy, will Mal and Inara finally get together? Does Jain still have Vera (the most enduring love story in the verse)? Will there be awesome ass-kicking, sub-legal shenanigans, and general shininess?

There still hasn’t been anything about when the issue is coming, but you better believe I’ll be getting mine. For a full interview with Jeanty, you can see the article on CBR.

Happy nerding!

Christie

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Filed under Books in the News, geek lit, Graphic Novels

Peter Dinklage on Sesame Street? Yes Please!

Here you go.  Peter Dinklage, muppets, and a sitar.  You’re welcome.

Christie

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Project Unbreakable

This post has nothing to do with books – but it does involve some important reading.  Two years ago, 21-year-old Grace Brown founded Project Unbreakable.

She wanted to photograph survivors of sexual assaults, holding signs quoting their attackers.  Here’s a quote from the site:

The mission of Project Unbreakable is to increase awareness of the issues surrounding sexual assault and encourage the act of healing through art. Since the project’s conception in October 2011 by then nineteen year old Grace Brown, it has featured over two thousand images of sexual assault survivors holding posters with quotes from their attackers.

 

There aren’t too many women who make it through their lives without ever being assaulted.  These women are brave, for being willing to share even that little piece of their story with the world… and hopefully are on the road to healing.  Coming together will, I think, be what wins in the end.  Buzzfeed has a wrenching post featuring twenty-seven of the photos.

It’s heartbreaking, but it would be worse if we looked away.

Christie

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New Edition of The Carpet People

The cover featured above is the classic edition of The Carpet People, the book that started Terry Pratchett’s career – like a satirical Lord of the Rings, taking place in… a carpet.  Epic fantasy at dust mite scale.

The book is quite often cited as the predecessor to the Discworld series, and has that same crazy sense of humour.  There is a new version of it coming November 5th, a special edition featuring illustrations done by Sir Terry himself.  I am dying to get my hands on one, because I would love to see what his vision of his characters is.

One of the great things about books is that no two people truly envision a character the same, no matter how detailed the description.  More so for the divide between readers and authors.  Don’t even get me started on book vs. movie.   It is rare that you can get a glimpse into what someone else sees, unless they are willing to draw their vision for you, and (this is important) they are good at drawing.

There is a new, enchanting trailer, released today, of the new edition.   The Carpet People are described as the “fruit of the loom”, which alone should tell you this is in true Pratchett style.

Have a blast enjoying this “epic saga of miniature proportions.”

Christie

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