It’s Banned Book Week!!!

September 24-30 is Banned book week.  The week that American Library Association releases their top 10 challenged books of the last year and we talk about censorship.  A topic that has been getting a lot of talk recently.  Anyway, so why do books get challenged? ALA has this helpful infograph to help us out.

WHY books challenged_0

No surprise that most of the content that people object to have to do with sex and LGBT lifestyles.  Violence and offensive language is also a big one but nothing seems to get people uptight then their poor innocent children reading about having sex or Gay people.  THE HORROR!  So who are challenging.  THe ALA has another infograph to help us out.

WHO challenges books (1)_0

And what are the most challenged books of 2016?

Top Ten for 2016

Out of 323 challenges recorded by the Office for Intellectual Freedom

  1. This One Summer written by Mariko Tamaki and illustrated by Jillian Tamaki
    Reasons: challenged because it includes LGBT characters, drug use and profanity, and it was considered sexually explicit with mature themes
  2. Drama written and illustrated by Raina Telgemeier
    Reasons: challenged because it includes LGBT characters, was deemed sexually explicit, and was considered to have an offensive political viewpoint
  3. George written by Alex Gino
    Reasons: challenged because it includes a transgender child, and the “sexuality was not appropriate at elementary levels”
  4. I Am Jazz written by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings, and illustrated by Shelagh McNicholas
    Reasons: challenged because it portrays a transgender child and because of language, sex education, and offensive viewpoints
  5. Two Boys Kissing written by David Levithan
    Reasons: challenged because its cover has an image of two boys kissing, and it was considered to include sexually explicit LGBT content
  6. Looking for Alaska written by John Green
    Reasons: challenged for a sexually explicit scene that may lead a student to “sexual experimentation”
  7. Big Hard Sex Criminals written by Matt Fraction and illustrated by Chip Zdarsky
    Reason: challenged because it was considered sexually explicit
  8. Make Something Up: Stories You Can’t Unread written by Chuck Palahniuk
    Reasons: challenged for profanity, sexual explicitness, and being “disgusting and all around offensive”
  9. Little Bill (series) written by Bill Cosby and and illustrated by Varnette P. Honeywood
    Reason: challenged because of criminal sexual allegations against the author
  10. Eleanor & Park written by Rainbow Rowell
    Reason: challenged for offensive language


Let’s not forget that books like Harry Potter, The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, and Where’s Waldo? have all been on this list before.  So go read a banned book.  Don’t let ideas go to waste.


Pop Culture Extra Credit: Playlist

A huge part of Eleanor and Park is the music that Park shares with Eleanor throughout the book. I started making notes of songs while I was reading. It seemed like it would be a great playlist, even if the book was breaking my heart. In the end, I compiled a pretty long list but it was in multiple places. Some of the songs were written on a post-it that got rained on. Some were on a bookmark that got left someplace. Some were in a note on my phone. Some were on a receipt. Apparently, I read everywhere and write on what I can get my hands on. So, I compiled this playlist from the pieces of paper, etc. that I could still get my hands on and read. Enjoy!

Review: Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell

I am halfway through my Pop Culture Homework Assignment!

This book repeatedly punched me in the stomach.

Eleanor and Park meet when Eleanor gets on the bus for her first day at the new school.  Eleanor immediately gets on the wrong side of the cool kids on the bus by almost sitting in someone else’s spot.  Park growls at her to just sit down next to him.  Everything after that awkward and totally real meeting is beautiful and painful and awkward and wonderful.  Eleanor and Park are so fucking cute together I actually just swore at you in a review of a YA novel.  This was a beautiful, painful and real novel about teen romance. It was also a novel about negotiating identity (when you’re not really sure how to be what people think you are.  Are you that thing?  Are you not?  Does it matter?), being there for your loved ones, and dealing with crappy things in your life.
This book was great also great because of the main characters.  Eleanor is a chubby red head and Park is half Korean.  Others have talked about the need for diverse characters in teen novels and I think this is a good example.
Spoiler alert and trigger alert:  This book deals with domestic violence in a very honest and very real way.
More spoilers ahead.
Eleanor and Park’s relationship grows slowly over a few months.  At first, they are just sharing a seat on the bus.  Then, they are sharing comic books.  Then, they were sharing comic books and music.  (I’m actually making a mix tape inspired by the music mentioned in the book.)  It just snowballs from there.  Eleanor loves her time on the bus because she hates being at home with her Mother’s husband, who is an alcoholic and a wife beater.  The story builds until it becomes obvious that the creepiest of the awful things that have been happening to Eleanor aren’t being done by the awful girls in Eleanor’s gym class but are being done by Eleanor’s step dad.
I cried and cried and cried throughout this book.  The relationship between Eleanor and Park was wonderful.  Eleanor’s relationship with DeNice and Beebi was great.  Park’s parents were A+ and their attempts to interact with their son’s first real girlfriend were awkward and beautiful and also very real.  Sabrina, Eleanor’s mom, was heartbreaking.  (At one point she tells Eleanor she’s so lucky and good for staying away from boys and then implies that there are two types of women in the world:  women who are with a man and brave women who aren’t.  I think my heart is still breaking from that interaction between mother and daughter.)  Eleanor’s brothers and sisters were also heartbreaking.
God, this book.  It was so good.  It was so good, I’m still crying over it.