Banned Books Week 2010...Let's Celebrate!

I look forward to Banned Books week almost as as much as I look forward to Black Friday every year.  The drama, the anticipation, the controversy, the utter's just like fighting the crowds at the mall on the busiest shopping day of the year.

The most challenged books for 2009 were: 

And Tango Makes Three
1. ttyl; ttfn; l8r, g8r (series), by Lauren Myracle 
Reasons: drugs, nudity, offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group

2. And Tango Makes Three, by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson 
Reasons: homosexuality 

3. The Perks of Being A Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky 
Reasons: anti-family, drugs, homosexuality, offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit, suicide, unsuited to age group
My Sister's Keeper: A Novel

4. To Kill A Mockingbird, by Harper Lee 
Reasons: offensive language, racism, unsuited to age group 

5. Twilight (series) by Stephenie Meyer 
Reasons: religious viewpoint, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group 

6. Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger 
Reasons: offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group 

7. My Sister’s Keeper, by Jodi Picoult 
Reasons: homosexuality, offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexism, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group, violence
The Color Purple

8. The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big, Round Things, by Carolyn Mackler 
Reasons: offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group 

9. The Color Purple, by Alice Walker 
Reasons: offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group

10. The Chocolate War, by Robert Cormier 
Reasons: nudity, offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group 

Honestly, banning books has never really made sense to me. For one thing, so you ban it from the school library. What about the public library? Bookstores? Borrowing from friends? There is no real way to completely "ban" a book, and that's a great thing. Censorship in any form is at best ineffective. What about other media?  Anything you can find in a book, you can find on tv or the internet, not only faster, but in greater quantities. And yet, every year, people try to challenge not only new books, but also some of the great classics of literature. Imagine a world without the following books:

1. The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald 
To Kill a Mockingbird: 50th Anniversary Edition2. The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger 
3. The Grapes of Wrath, by John Steinbeck 
4. To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee 
5. The Color Purple, by Alice Walker 
6. Ulysses, by James Joyce 
7. Beloved, by Toni Morrison 
8. The Lord of the Flies, by William Golding 
9. 1984, by George Orwell 
10. The Sound and the Fury, by William Faulkner 

Even though I might, possibly, maybe just a tiny bit AGREE with #5 on the 2009 list, it is a matter of personal preference only, and just because I don't care for it doesn't mean someone else might. See, that's the spirit of banned books week. 

I say, live and let read!

P.S. If you want to support the cause (other than reading the banned books themselves of course) you can head over to the American Library Association Store and check out the cool Banned Books Week merchandise over there. I especially like these neat Banned Books bracelets. Peace!

Evermore by Alyson Noel

Evermore: The ImmortalsSince a horrible accident claimed the lives of her family, sixteen-year-old Ever can see auras, hear people’s thoughts, and know a person’s life story by touch.   Going out of her way to shield herself from human contact to suppress her abilities has branded her as a freak at her new high school—but everything changes when she meets Damen Auguste . . . 

Ever sees Damen and feels an instant recognition.  He is gorgeous, exotic and wealthy, and he holds many secrets.  Damen is able to make things appear and disappear, he always seems to know what she’s thinking—and he’s the only one who can silence the noise and the random energy in her head.  She doesn’t know who he really is—or what he is.  Damen is equal parts light and darkness, and he belongs to an enchanted new world where no one ever dies.

-Description courtesy of

This book has been on my To Read list forever, and now that I've finally gotten around to reading it, I wish I had pushed it to the top of the list sooner. 

At first, the story has a few odd parallels to that vampire novel that must not be named: Antisocial Girl transfers to a new school and can't help but notice Gorgeous-But-Strange Boy. Antisocial Girl alternates between obsessing over Gorgeous-But-Strange Boy and trying NOT to obsess over him. G-B-S Boy disappears from school frequently for no apparent reason; he speaks like he is from another century and appears to be independently wealthy. Not to mention the mind reading and "vampires." To be honest, the similarities were a bit off-putting at first.

However, after the first few chapters, I forgot about all of that. Ever is an interesting character, conflicted and gifted with strange abilities, including that of seeing and communicating with her dead little sister Riley. While not a new convention by any means, it added depth to the story. Riley's visits help Ever move forward with her life, while still grieving for the life she lost. 

The mystery of Damen occupies most of Ever's attention, and thus the reader's attention as well. I found him at times annoying (when he was being rude and infuriating, frustratingly closed off to Ever) and charming. I did feel he wasn't as fully developed as Ever and Riley; I don't have as clear a picture of his mind and motives. Perhaps that will be remedied in future books.

Alyson Noel is what I call a visual writer: she can describe scenes in such a way that you get a clear picture of what is happening, but not so that you realize you are reading a descriptive passage. It's a gift, one that disappointingly few authors possess.

The next book in the series, Blue Moon, has already been moved to the top of my reading list; there are five books in the series so far, as well as a new book from Riley's point of view, which I'd probably skip ahead to if I wasn't so particular about reading a series in order. 

Evermore is one of those rare books you will find yourself staying up all night reading....and then dreaming about...and then thinking about the next day. It's a love story with a paranormal twist that will appeal to readers of all ages.

Teaser Quote:

"Though I have to admit, I had a good laugh when I realized you thought I was a bloodsucker." He smiles.

"Oh, well excuse me. I mean since there are immortals running around, I figure we may as well bring on the faeries, wizards, werewolves, and-" I shake my head. "I mean jeez, you talk about all this like it's normal!" 

The Kindle 3...Yes, I'm a convert

Kindle 3G Wireless Reading Device, Free 3G + Wi-Fi, 6" Display, White, 3G Works Globally - Latest Generation

To all of you who shun the eBook trend and view it as a bane to the literary those of you who consider yourself to be "real book" purists, and don't reel right without a weighty book in your hand that smells of that particularly wonderful mix of ink, binding glue, and all of you I have a confession:

I used to be one of you.

And I still am! I promise.

BUT. But but but. The Kindle is an amazingly addictive little device, and while it can never replace a "real book" experience, it comes pretty darn close.

Two weeks before the release date, I pre-ordered the regular size Kindle (not the DX, too bulky to carry around for me), with wireless and 3G, in white. Two weeks after the release date, it finally arrived in my mailbox. Total waiting time: one month of anticipatory torture. Argh!

Previously, I had owned the original Kindle 1, the one that everyone mocked with its awkward buttons and funky triangle shape. However, even with its many design flaws, the Kindle 1 did just what it was supposed to do - store and display hundreds of books - and did it better than its current competition at the time, the Sony E-Reader.

As you may or may not know, the Sony E-Reader is still around, but there is also another contender these days - the Barnes & Noble Nook, which has received a lot of attention due to it's (partially) colored screen. Well, my apologies to Sony & B&N (both companies whom I love dearly for other products), but the new Kindle 3 leaves all other ebook readers in the dust. Again.

What's so great about it? If you read like I do, then the fact that you can now have thousands of books ready to read, right at your fingertips, with even more just a click away, should throw you into a full-on swoon of rapture. If it doesn't, check your pulse; have you been reading those vampire novels that shall not be named lately? If you travel frequently, like I do, you probably know how annoying/difficult/heavy it is to lug around enough books to last a whole trip. The Kindle solves that problem neatly...just bring along one book shaped item, and you have your whole library with you, wherever you are.

The Kindle has a redesigned keyboard for easier typing/navigation/book purchasing. Instead of the Kindle 1's scroller or the Kindle 2's joystick, the Kindle 3 has a 5-way controller with a four arrow keys and a central "enter" button. While I think it might be difficult for larger fingers to handle accurately, I have had no problems with it.

The speech-to-text function is interesting; you can choose to have either a male or female voice read almost any book or document you have out loud to you. The voice sounds slightly mechanical, and the rhythmic flow of an audio book is just not there. While I can understand how this might be a useful feature for some, I can't really see myself using it much.

Battery life: one month! Yes, you read that right - with the wireless turned off, you can go without plugging in for a whole month. Feel free to swoon again right now. With the wireless on, it will last about a week. The only time you really need the wireless on though, is when you are browsing for books to buy within the device, or using the experimental browser. The browser is actually much improved and definitely usable, but I prefer to use my laptop or phone for internet purposes.

Another of my favorite things about the Kindle is that you can highlight, save, and search interesting passages from any of your books. I used to spend hours writing down quotes from books; this singular feature has saved from an advanced case of future carpal tunnel.

The Kindle 3 also has something called "Collections" now. Basically it's a folder-type system for organizing your books on the kindle, which the Kindles 1 & 2 sadly lacked. Finally the Kindle developers took the hint, and now all of my books are organized neatly into their appropriate collections.

Kindle Lighted Leather Cover, Hot Pink (Fits 6" Display, Latest Generation Kindle)I also bought a pink leather lighted cover for my Kindle. Although I know plenty of people who use their Kindle "naked" (the Kindle, not the person!) for me, a cover is a necessity. I bring my Kindle everywhere, and it gets tossed into whatever bag is nearest with whatever might be in said bag.

Yes, the cover is pricey, but it works for me. I like the color, I like the feel of it, I like that it holds my Kindle securely so I don't have to worry about it falling out, and I especially like the light. It runs off the Kindle's battery, so you need never buy replacement batteries for it. Whee!

The only thing the Kindle 3 is missing is that new book smell. You know the one, when you crack open the cover of a new book and you get that lovely scent of paper and ink. Kindle developers, are you listening? Perhaps the Kindle 4 will have aromatherapy.

All in all, the Kindle 3 is a fantastic device for book lovers, and worth every penny. 
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