Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Banned Books Week: Talk at MLK Library

This week is Banned Books Week! This week is held once per year to celebrate the freedom of reading. However, as unsavory, listless, raunchy, boring, inaccurate, salacious, or radical a book may be, individuals in America have a choice to read that book, or not read it. Despite this, various entities consistently attempt to ban books of all types, for a variety of reasons. According to the American Library Association, among the most challenged books of the decade 2000-2009 were these gems:

1. Harry Potter (series), by J.K. Rowling
Well, apparently these book weren't kept out of too many hands. One of the most popular series of my lifetime, and despite whether you loved or hated the series, it was a phenomenon.

4. And Tango Makes Three, by Justin Richardson/Peter Parnell
The only thing I know about this book is that it's basically a picture book based on the lives of two penguins living in Central Park Zoo. They hatch and raise a baby penguin. Sounds simple enough. No, it's not. Because humans. 

6. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, by Maya Angelou
Seminal piece of American literature. Caged Bird is the first in a series of seven autobiographies by Maya Angelou and it was the first non-fiction best seller by an African American woman. She never stopped writing, reading, and speaking at events, all the way up to her death at age 86 years.

17. The Color Purple, by Alice Walker
Most people our age or older likely know of the movie by the same name. Yes, the film was nominated for 11 Academy Awards, but the book won the Pulitzer Prize. 

19. Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger
At the time, I considered this a life changing book when I read it in high school. Because what can prepare you for this type of complex writing as a teenager? Not many other books, not many. It made your mind swirl.

28. Bridge To Terabithia, by Katherine Paterson
I have a scene from this book tattooed on my arm. This book really broke you down as a child, but also built your mind along the way; and stretched your imagination. We're better for having read it.

88. The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood
Probably too much to call this speculative fiction. But, if you can't challenge the political, religious, and social status quo, in a piece of fiction no less, why write books? Or read them for that matter. Probably my second favorite book from this Canadian author, after Oryx and Crake

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As part of Banned Books Week, the MLK Jr Library is hosting a talk today. The title is UNCENSORED and is related to an exhibition on view at the library. From the organizers: 

"UNCENSORED: Artist Talk
A panel discussion, moderated by curator of UNCENSORED and DC Public Library Associate Matthew Mann. The panel will explore the ways in which censorship affects the arts and reveal how the issue of censorship relates to the ideas put forward in their displayed work.

September 23, 2014, 6:30pm
Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library
901 G Street, NW
Washington, DC 20001

Artists participating in Artist Talk:
Matthew Mann (moderator)

Other Public Events Scheduled for Uncensored: Banned Books Week

Tuesday, September 23:
  • Read-Out!: Librarians read chapters from favorite banned Harry Potter books. Benning Library, 6pm.
Wednesday, September 24:
  • Azar Nafisi, author of Reading Lolita in Tehran, and DC Public Librarians read passages from their favorite banned literature. MLK Jr. Memorial Library, 6pm.
Thursday, September 25:
Monday, September 29:
  • Cabaret actors/singers Barbara Papendorp and Amy Conley pay homage to banned books with "The Naughty List." Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library, 7pm".