Sunday, September 26, 2010

Banned Books Week

Confession: I have actually never read Ulysses. Yes, I am a poser.

So, I recently (like, five minutes ago) discovered that this week is Banned Books Week! This is even more exciting than National Punctuation Day, which I missed celebrating on Friday. It is pretty astounding that people still try to get books banned. Books are an incredible source of knowledge, and I particularly love the way fiction can reveal so much about what it means to be human, in all its beautiful, terrible complexity. And the real shame is that the books that reveal the most are the ones that are the most honest, which also seems to land them on the banned and challenged book lists.

I try to understand that people who want to ban books are, in a twisted way, doing it because they care about children and young adults, but the whole idea is just disgusting and misguided, and sometimes even discriminatory. In general, the idea of restricting knowledge really gets my panties in a bunch, if you'll forgive the antiquated phrase. And when this happens, then I become somewhat irrational and unable to form coherent sentences. So I won't go on about it too much. Instead, I will focus on the positive, the freedom to read!

The American Library Association has compiled this list of the most challenged titles of 2009. While I am familiar with nearly all of the titles on the list, I haven't actually read a single one (no, not even Catcher in the Rye or The Color Purple, and not even Twilight). So this week, I am going to acknowledge Banned Books Week by going to the library and checking out one of the books on the list.

If the issue interests you, I recommend you do the same, or do one of the following:

  • Check out BBW website for a list of events that may be happening in your area.
  • If the books on the 2009 list don't tickle your fancy, here is another ALA list of banned/challenged books that also appear on somebody somewhere's list of the top 100 books of the 20th century. Of these, I can personally recommend The Great Gatsby1984, Of Mice and Men, Brave New World, Slaughterhouse Five, and Go Tell it on the Mountain, although I really need to get around to reading the others on that list as well.
  • Pop over to maybe genius and read what she has to say about attempts to get the novel Speak banned.
  • Read (or re-read) Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy, which not only appears on the ALA's list of the top ten challenged books of 2008 (the first book is also on the 2007 list) but also features themes about knowledge and how it's accessibility is directly related to freedom. Also, the series happens to be a personal favorite of mine.
  • Get a more global perspective through this list of books banned by governments according to wikipedia.
  • Explore this totally sweet map featured on the BBW website:

But most of all, celebrate your freedom to read!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Mood Music with the Yeah Yeah Yeahs

I've taken over the filing duties at work. Yep, that is exactly as thrilling as it sounds. However, it does allow me a little quality time with my iPod. It's a pretty huge task, and to keep me in a zone, I've been listening to the Yeah Yeah Yeahs latest, It's Blitz, which I'm only now discovering more than a year after it was released. The whole album is great, and while my favorite song is currently the slightly slower "Hysteric," the opening track, "Zero," does a great job of getting me pumped about putting files on shelves. Woo-hoo!

Karen O makes me want to buy hi-top sneakers and wear red lipstick everyday. Also, shopping cart shenanigans? Awesome.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Thank you . . .

This is what friendship looks like, people.

Welcome to the second installment of my thank you series, in which I thank the people around me for increasing my life's awesomeness. This entry is dedicated to my dear friend Rachel. We started as coworkers at our university's on campus convenience store, where I "trained" her by pointing at the cash register and standing next to her while she used it on actual customers (there really was no better way at that job, it's not like we had a "practice" cash register we could use). After meeting, we bonded over our love for books, Buffy, and Batman, but our friendship has lasted because of her character. She's compassionate, intelligent, and she doesn't let gender roles define her as a person. Besides being an all around fun and reliable friend, I'd also like to thank Rachel for the following:

  • Inspiring me to start a blog. Rachel's blog, Delete the Adjectives, is great. Her posts are thoughtful and honest. She also writes about herself as well as bringing attention to issues that matter to her, such as gay rights and animal welfare. For Blogathon 2009 she raised money for Best Friends Animal Society, which is a non-profit with a huge no-kill sanctuary for animals. It's a pretty special organization and given that Rachel loves dogs and would probably adopt every homeless dog she saw if she could, it was natural that she'd champion their cause.
  • Not making me wear a heinous, $300 bridesmaid dress. 'Nuff said.
  • Lengthy, winding conversations, in which we can chat about pretty much any topic. In fact, our guys deserve some thanks on this too, because we ladies tend monopolize the discussion when we all hang out.
  • Playing video games with me even though I am terrible and can never win a racing game or play Guitar Hero without getting booed off stage.
  • Introducing me to the kitty-cat dance, which produces a guaranteed smile even on the lousiest of days: