BCN – Online Resources

A short addition to yesterday’s post. I forgot to include where I sourced a lot of the titles on the reading list and sites for tracking your books/reading.

I encourage you to create an account on GoodReads or Library Thing. GoodReads is to review and keep track of the books you have already read or want to read. You can also post reviews, enter drawings for free books, discuss books with others and get recommendations based on books you enjoyed. I haven’t used Library Thing in a very long time, but I started it as way to categorize my craft books. In looking at the site just now I see there are discussion threads and book lists which help the community aspect. Choose whichever one works best for you. Or don’t. No pressure.

Might as well include the information for January’s books here while I’m at it.

The theme for January is Banned Books. Did you know there is a week in September celebrating banned books? I love that the ALA (American Library Association) sponsors it. Books are often challenged by for a variety of reasons usually related to someone’s idea of what is suitable for people under the age of 18.

I don’t remember my reading being censored at all as a kid so the idea of banning a book seems rather silly to me. I read anything I might find interesting. Judy Blume? Check. S E Hinton? Check. Sidney Sheldon? Check. I was a kid with a high reading level so when adults got excited about a title, I was likely to look into it and read it if I thought it sounded interesting. It made for some colorful school book reports, I’m sure. Although, to be fair to myself – no one ever challenged me on my reading material so I never even thought twice about the appropriateness of it.

I chose two books for January. Helen Keller: The Story of My Life as well as her other 11 titles were burned by the Nazis for promoting “un-German” ideas. After the publication of her first autobiography Helen started college at Radcliffe. The influences of her education and her friendship with Anne Sullivan and Anne’s husband, John Macy, brought justice to the forefront of Helen’s mind and she remained an activist for social reforms until her death in 1968. She became a socialist. She was a founding member of he ACLU. She was heavily involved with the NAACP. She campaigned for the rights of women (including birth control) and the disabled with fervor.

Keller was a radical. She held strong beliefs and was not afraid of challenges to those beliefs. While Americans did not seek to ban her books she did meet with some disfavor after she joined the Socialist Party with some detractors saying her disabilities hindered her thinking. She was quick to set them straight.

The Story of My Life is available for free at Project Gutenberg and at the Digital Library Project and most libraries will carry at least one copy. If you have access to a reader or an iPad I strongly recommend getting the OverDrive app. Once you are a library member you can get access to checking out audio or eBooks for free. Also, some books are available through Amazon Unlimited for free once you sign up for the $10/month fee. The link above is for a $2.25 paperback or a .99 kindle copy. There is also an audio copy on Amazon, but since you get a free trial of Audible for one week, I would suggest saving that for a month with a more difficult book, say September or November.

The other book, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie has been on my TBR pile forever. I know virtually nothing about it other than it is semi-autobiographical. It was challenged for language, sexual references, alcohol use and bullying. It was Alexie’s first YA novel and it is illustrated, sort of like a graphic novel. I found it through my library via OverDrive.

Other books on our reading list that have been challenged:

  • The Perks of Being a Wallflower
  • The Color Purple
  • Fahrenheit 451
  • A Wrinkle in Time

I chose to start with a banned book theme because, first, those are always the most fun to read. Secondly, these books are challenged mostly because someone gets their knickers in a twist when they see it in the library or on their kid’s reading assignment and they decide that they are now the moral barometer for everyone on earth and no one should have access. I think it’s one thing to say the book is inappropriate for your child, and a whole different kettle of fish to say no child should read it.

“History has taught you nothing if you think you can kill ideas. Tyrants have tried to do that often before, and the ideas have risen up in their might and destroyed them. You can burn my books and the books of the best minds in Europe, but the ideas in them have seeped through a million channels, and will continue to quicken other minds.”   Helen Keller to “the Student Body of Germany” in 1933.

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