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virtual read-outs

Banned Books Week Featured Book: Fahrenheit 451

Listed below is a review of "Fahrenheit 451" courtesy of Jan Harp, Acquisitions.

"Fahrenheit 451" by Ray Bradbury is a cautionary tale set in the future America where books are outlawed and are burned by firemen. It is the story of one fireman, Gus Montag, who slowly goes from blindly following orders to burn books to becoming a wanted fugitive dedicated to saving books. This book was banned/challenged for offensive language and content. I chose Fahrenheit 451 published in 1953 because it has been challenged and censored since the first publication, starting with the publishers. The publishers edited without Bradbury’s consent or knowledge until he was informed by a friend in the late 50’s. The experiences of Bradbury and Fahrenheit 451 were instrumental in the American Library Association becoming involved with Banned Book Week.

To view a reading of this book, see the library's YouTube channel.
To see more about banned books, check the library's Banned Books Week Guide. We'll also be in the UC from 11am-2pm all this week for virtual read-outs.

4 October 2012 (All day) to 8 October 2012 (All day)

Banned Books Week Featured Book: Brave New World

Listed below is a review of "Brave New World" courtesy of Terra Bianchi, University Archivist.

Six hundred years into the future, humans are bred by cloning, and "mother" and "father" are forbidden words. Originally published in 1932, Huxley's terrifying vision of a controlled and emotionless future "Utopian" society is truly startling in its prediction of modern scientific and cultural phenomena, including test-tube babies and rampant drug abuse.— Jacket Abstract

"Brave New World" begins with World Controller Mustapha Mond describing the assembly lines which create human life, including how babies are segregated into various social classes and conditioned through modern psychological techniques. Mond reminds us that before this Utopian world people had parents, lived in dirty homes, believed in religion, and allowed their emotions to override productivity. Now, everyone is conditioned to be stable, happy, and civilized—living in a much more unified and content society. But when an Alpha Plus, Bernard, visits a Savage Reservation, the stability of everyone’s Brave New World begins to unravel.

"Brave New World" looks at the advancements of science—and how they may affect society and human individuality. A satire of a future, technologically advanced world, Huxley’s work confronts topics such as sex and drug abuse, family structure, education, and morality. The novel has been one of most challenged and banned classics of all time. Banned in Ireland in 1932, the same year as its first publication, censors complained of foul language, anti-family, and anti-religious themes. It is constantly challenged in high schools across the United States as required classic reading for its moral content and adult themes. Ironically, "Brave New World" was written to argue against a future of oppression, conformity, and conditioning—the continual appearance as a challenged and banned book only furthers Huxley’s warnings about our future world.

To view a reading of this book, see the library's YouTube channel.
To see more about banned books, check the library's Banned Books Week Guide. We'll also be in the UC from 11am-2pm all this week for virtual read-outs.

3 October 2012 (All day) to 8 October 2012 (All day)

Banned Books Week Featured Book: Speak

"Melinda Sordino's freshman year is off to a horrible start. She busted an end-of-summer party by calling the cops, and now her friends--and even strangers--all hate her. Months pass and things aren't getting better. She's a pariah. The lowest of the low. Avoided by everyone. But eventually, she'll reveal what happened at the party. And when she finally speaks the truth, eveything will change." -- from book cover

"Speak" by Laurie Halse Anderson tells the story of Melinda Sordino, a freshman outcast entering high school. For months, Melinda moves through the halls of her high school, trying to fly under the radar while being subject to ostracism and ridicule by her classmates and former friends, all the while falling into a deep depression.

Anderson wrote "Speak" in 1999 and the book quickly received national attention and commendations. It is a New York Times Bestseller, ALA Best Book for Young Adults, National Book Award Finalist, and Tayshas High School Reading List winner, among many others. The book was also adapted into an independent film starring Kristen Stewart in 2004.

This book is a powerful, beautifully written novel conveying a young woman's grief, confusion, and struggle to cope with a sexual assault. Anderson treats this delicate topic with respect and creates a believable and strong character who brings herself out of depression and eventually confronts her assailant.

"Speak" is the first book I read by Anderson and immediately made me a fan of her work. I love that Anderson doesn't shy away from difficult topics that many would rather sweep aside and ignore.

The book has faced some challenges over the years, but one of the biggest controversies was in 2010 in Republic, Missouri. Wesley Scroggins, a member of the area community, wrote an opinion piece in the News-Leader in which he describes the book as "soft pornography" due to the main character briefly recounting two rape scenes. Scroggins also denounced two other books--"Twenty Boy Summer" by Sarah Ockler and "Slaughterhouse-Five" by Kurt Vonnegut. The Republic school district removed all three books, but quickly voted to return "Speak" to the shelves shortly after the matter gained national attention.

To view a reading of this book, see the library's YouTube channel.
To see more about banned books, check the library's Banned Books Week Guide. We'll also be in the UC from 11am-2pm all this week for virtual read-outs.

2 October 2012 (All day) to 8 October 2012 (All day)

Banned Books Week Featured Book: The Hunger Games

Listed below is a review of The Hunger Games, courtesy of Tiffany LeMaistre, eResources and Collection Development Librarian.

The Hunger Games is a science fiction young adult novel with a fantasy feel to it. Suzanne Collins wrote the book in 2008. It is set in a country called Panem where twelve (formerly thirteen) districts are ruled by a capital district. As punishment for a failed uprising the twelve districts must annually contribute two tributes each, a girl and a boy between the ages of 12 and 18, to fight to the death for the capital's entertainment.

The Hunger Games has been banned for concerns that the book is "anti-ethnic," "anti-family," and "occult/satanic." There are also concerns over the violence in the book as it involves children killing children. The book has raised so much concern that it ranked third in the 2011 list of most challenged books.

Suzanne Collins' book rocketed in popularity this year with the release of The Hunger Games film in March. Actress Jennifer Lawrence played the main character, Katniss Everdeen. The movie was good, but at the risk of sounding cliche the book is better. If you haven't read it yet you can check it out from the library.

The book is a fast-paced read. Many people love it for the action, the colorful characters, or the dystopian themes. Personally, I love the book because of Katniss Everdeen. She is the strong and independent female lead that is so often lacking in literature. She hunts at the risk of execution to feed her family, and finds other ways to rebel against the capital's rules. She isn't looking for love or trying to make it in a big scary world. She is literally fighting for her life and relying on her own abilities to make it through the games.

To view a reading of this book, see the library's YouTube channel.
To see more about banned books, check the library's Banned Books Week Guide. We'll also be in the UC from 11am-2pm all this week for virtual read-outs.

1 October 2012 (All day) to 7 October 2012 (All day)

Banned Books Week Featured Book: Johnny Got His Gun

Listed below is a review of "Johnny Got His Gun" courtesy of Samantha Winn, Archives Assistant.

My selection for Banned Books Week Virtual Read-Out is “Johnny Got His Gun”, by American screenwriter and novelist Dalton Trumbo. Set during World War I, the novel was first published in 1939. The protagonist is a young American soldier, who wakes up in a hospital having lost his limbs and face to an artillery shell. Ultimately, after many years of struggling to maintain his sanity and sense of time, Joe Bonham attempts to communicate with the hospital staff. He wants to tell the world about the horrors and futility of war by putting himself on display in a touring exhibit; of course, his request is denied.

“Johnny Got His Gun” immediately struck a chord for American readers on the eve of World War II. It received critical acclaim shortly after the first printing, including the National Book Award for Most Original Book of 1939, and the American Booksellers Award in 1940. Over the course of the 20th century, the novel inspired numerous radio shows, stage plays, film adaptations, and Metallica’s song “One”.

Radical anti-war advocates on the left and right seized upon Dalton Trumbo’s book as a rallying cry against the American involvement in WWII. Fearing that his book might harm the war effort, Dalton Trumbo and his publishers voluntarily ceased printing until after the war. It was also pulled from print during the Korean War, but found new popularity during the late 1960s when American forces entered Vietnam.

Historically, the novel has been challenged not only for its anti-war sentiment and graphic descriptions of gruesome injuries, but also for the divisive nature of Trumbo himself. In 1947, Dalton Trumbo was called before the House Un-American Activities Committee as a suspected Communist sympathizer. After refusing to testify, he was declared in contempt of court and subsequently blacklisted in Hollywood. Nonetheless, he won two Academy Awards under his pseudonym “Robert Rich” (for “The Brave One” and “Roman Holiday”). Trumbo famously won acclaim for his 1960 screenplays “Spartacus” and “Exodus”, the first films publicly attributed to him after his blacklisting.

I first read this book in the summer of 2001, just before the start of my eighth grade year. My father served on a nuclear submarine during and after the Persian Gulf War, so I had some small understanding of the price paid by military families during times of conflict. Before I read “Johnny Got His Gun”, my thoughts on war generally reflected the Latin Proverb, Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori (“It is sweet and fitting to die for one’s country”). Trumbo’s novel dramatically influenced my understanding of armed conflict. I was especially moved by Joe Bonham’s inner monologues, which questioned bedrock assumptions about patriotism and justice. I chose one of these monologues for my Virtual Read-Out, on the topic of “liberty”.

If you enjoyed ”Johnny Got His Gun”, I also recommend these frequently banned classics:

  • Ericha Maria Remarque - “All Quiet on the Western Front”
  • Ernest Hemmingway – “For Whom the Bell Tolls”
  • Tim O’Brien - “The Things They Carried”.

To view a reading of this book, see the library's YouTube channel.
To see more about banned books, check the library's Banned Books Week Guide. We'll also be in the UC from 11am-2pm all this week for virtual read-outs.

30 September 2012 (All day) to 8 October 2012 (All day)

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