Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Frequently Challenged Books

Frequently Challenged Books

The ALA's Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF) receives reports from libraries, schools, and the media on attempts to ban books in communities across the country. We compile lists of challenged books in order to inform the public about censorship efforts that affect libraries and schools. The top ten most frequently challenged books of 2014 include:
1)      The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie
Reasons: anti-family, cultural insensitivity, drugs/alcohol/smoking, gambling, offensive language, sex education, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group, violence. Additional reasons: “depictions of bullying”
2)      Persepolis, by Marjane Satrapi
Reasons: gambling, offensive language, political viewpoint. Additional reasons: “politically, racially, and socially offensive,” “graphic depictions”
3)      And Tango Makes Three, Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell
Reasons: Anti-family, homosexuality, political viewpoint, religious viewpoint, unsuited for age group. Additional reasons: “promotes the homosexual agenda”
4)      The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison
Reasons: Sexually explicit, unsuited for age group. Additional reasons: “contains controversial issues”
5)      It’s Perfectly Normal, by Robie Harris
Reasons: Nudity, sex education, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group. Additional reasons: “alleges it child pornography”
6)      Saga, by Brian Vaughan and Fiona Staples
Reasons: Anti-Family, nudity, offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited for age group. Additional reasons:
7)      The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini
Reasons: Offensive language, unsuited to age group, violence
8)      The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky
Reasons: drugs/alcohol/smoking, homosexuality, offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group. Additional reasons: “date rape and masturbation”
9)      A Stolen Life, Jaycee Dugard
Reasons: drugs/alcohol/smoking, offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited for age group
10)  Drama, by Raina Telgemeier
Reasons: sexually explicit
Explore the following pages for listings of banned/challenged books:
The ALA condemns censorship and works to ensure free access to information. For more information on ALA's efforts to raise awareness of censorship and promote the freedom to read, please explore Banned Books Week.
We do not claim comprehensiveness in recording challenges as research suggests that for each challenge reported there are as many as four or five that go unreported. In addition, OIF has only been collecting data about banned banned books since 1990, so we do not have any lists of frequently challenged books or authors before that date.

How is the list of most challenged books tabulated?

The Office for Intellectual Freedom collects information from two sources: newspapers and reports submitted by individuals, some of whom use theChallenge Reporting Form. All challenges are compiled into a database. Reports of challenges culled from newspapers across the country are compiled in the bimonthly Newsletter on Intellectual Freedom (published by the ALA, $50 per year for a digital subscription); those reports are then compiled in theBanned Books Week Resource Guide. Challenges reported to the ALA by individuals are kept confidential. 

Where can you find more information on why a particular book was banned?

The Top Ten Most Frequently Challenged books list is compiled with expert analysis by the Office for Intellectual Freedom staff. “Challenges” are documented requests to remove materials from schools or libraries.  Removal would restrict access to this information by other library users. This list is not scientifically compiled.  Rather, it is a snapshot of the reports we receive every day. In some cases we get numerous details about the challenger, the nature of the complaint, the backstory, and the current status of the book.  And in some cases we get very little. Sometimes we receive information during the challenge event, sometimes many years later. These factors affect the total number of challenged books for any given year and how we inform the public.
Our goal is not to focus on the numbers, but to educate the community that censorship is still a very serious problem. Even with all of our efforts to follow up and provide support, surveys indicate that up to 85% of book challenges receive no media attention and remain unreported. If the information you need is not listed in the links to the left, please feel free to contact the Office for Intellectual Freedom at (800) 545-2433, ext. 4220, or


About Banned & Challenged Books

The American Library Association promotes the freedom to choose or the freedom to express one's opinions even if that opinion might be considered unorthodox or unpopular, and stresses the importance of ensuring the availability of those viewpoints to all who wish to read them. The following is a list of frequently asked questions on banned and challenged books:

What is the difference between a challenge or banning?

A challenge is an attempt to remove or restrict materials, based upon the objections of a person or group.  A banning is the removal of those materials.  Challenges do not simply involve a person expressing a point of view; rather, they are an attempt to remove material from the curriculum or library, thereby restricting the access of others.  Due to the commitment of librarians, teachers, parents, students and other concerned citizens, most challenges are unsuccessful and most materials are retained in the school curriculum or library collection.

Why are books challenged?

Books usually are challenged with the best intentions—to protect others, frequently children, from difficult ideas and information. See  Notable First Amendment Cases.
Censorship can be subtle, almost imperceptible, as well as blatant and overt, but, nonetheless, harmful. As John Stuart Mill wrote in On Liberty:
If all mankind minus one, were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person, than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind. Were an opinion a personal possession of no value except to the owner; if to be obstructed in the enjoyment of it were simply a private injury, it would make some difference whether the injury was inflicted only on a few persons or on many. But the peculiar evil of silencing the expression of an opinion is, that it is robbing the human race; posterity as well as the existing generation; those who dissent from the opinion, still more than those who hold it. If the opinion is right, they are deprived of the opportunity of exchanging error for truth: if wrong, they lose, what is almost as great a benefit, the clearer perception and livelier impression of truth, produced by its collision with error.
— On Liberty, John Stuart Mill
Often challenges are motivated by a desire to protect children from “inappropriate” sexual content or “offensive” language. The following were the top three reasons cited for challenging materials as reported to the Office of Intellectual Freedom:
  1. the material was considered to be "sexually explicit"
  2. the material contained "offensive language"
  3. the materials was "unsuited to any age group"
Although this is a commendable motivation, Free Access to Libraries for Minors, an interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights (ALA's basic policy concerning access to information) states that, “Librarians and governing bodies should maintain that parents—and only parents—have the right and the responsibility to restrict the access of their children—and only their children—to library resources.” Censorship by librarians of constitutionally protected speech, whether for protection or for any other reason, violates the First Amendment.
As Supreme Court Justice William J. Brennan, Jr., in Texas v. Johnson , said most eloquently:
If there is a bedrock principle underlying the First Amendment, it is that the government may not prohibit the expression of an idea simply because society finds the idea itself offensive or disagreeable.
If we are to continue to protect our First Amendment, we would do well to keep in mind these words of Noam Chomsky:
If we don't believe in freedom of expression for people we despise, we don't believe in it at all.
Or these words of Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas (" The One Un-American Act." Nieman Reports , vol. 7, no. 1, Jan. 1953, p. 20):
Restriction of free thought and free speech is the most dangerous of all subversions. It is the one un-American act that could most easily defeat us.

Who Challenges Books?

Throughout history, more and different kinds of people and groups of all persuasions than you might first suppose, who, for all sorts of reasons, have attempted—and continue to attempt—to suppress anything that conflicts with or anyone who disagrees with their own beliefs.
In his book Free Speech for Me—But Not for Thee: How the American Left and Right Relentlessly Censor Each Other, Nat Hentoff writes that “the lust to suppress can come from any direction.” He quotes Phil Kerby, a former editor of the Los Angeles Times, as saying, “Censorship is the strongest drive in human nature; sex is a weak second.”
According to the Challenges by Initiator, Institution, Type, and Year, parents challenge materials more often than any other group.

Does ALA ban books?

No. The ALA's Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF) receives reports from libraries, schools, and the media on attempts to ban books in communities across the country. We compile lists of challenged books in order to inform the public about censorship efforts that affect libraries and schools. The ALA condemns censorship and works to ensure free access to information. For more information on ALA's efforts to raise awareness of censorship and promote the freedom to read, please explore Banned Books Week.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Some Non Fiction Reviews

As many of you might have noticed; I normally do not read non-fiction, as I prefer to be entertained and not have too much serious stuff on my mind.  But lately I have come across some rather interesting, enlightening, & uplifting non-fiction......  Those I will share with you today!

Frida Kahlo 1907-1954: Pain and Passion: Andrea Kettenmann
♥ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ 

"This book was printed on 100% chlorine-free bleached paper in accordance with TCF standard"

A lovely book on the life & art of Frida Kahlo. There are many many color reproductions of her art work and photos from her estate for a total of 93 illustrations.

Contents include:

"Peg-Leg Frida" - a Rebellious Girl
The Delicate Dove and the Fat Frog
A Mexican Artist in "Gringolandia"
Despair and Success
"These Surgeons Sons of Bitches"
"I Hope the Exit is Joyful..."
Frida Kahlo 1907-1954: Life and Work
List of Illustrations

My favorite piece is the Frontpiece photo of Frida, circa 1939 by Nickolas Muray, Rochester, NY

The Great Train Robbery: Michael Crichton (Based upon an actual event & real people)
★ ★ ★ ★

This is an excellent story as well as a compelling read.....  I realize I marked it down one star (from 5 to 4), because of the excessive unnecessary historical background used as filler....  I felt as Crichton was trying to prove that although he was writing a work of (historical) fiction based on an actual occurrence, that it was indeed historical and made up of facts....  Blah, blah, blah, blah, needless to say I skipped a bit of the run on paragraphs; the ones that I felt had no bearing (importance) on the story.

I liked the main character...  Edward Pierce, a very intelligent & enterprising man.....

In  May 1855, Edward Pierce, with the help of several others, robbed the secure safe aboard the Southern Eastern Railway (bound for France) of the Crimean War Payroll of £12,000 gold bullion.  The theft of the gold bullion was over a year in the planning and the safe took 4 different keys to unlock only two of which were kept in the same place....  

It was considered the crime of the century, not for the pay load, but in part as it was perpetrated by a man of good standing in society. It took over two years to arrest Edward Pierce and bring him to trial. When asked in 1856 why he robbed the train, he simply replied "I wanted the money"..... 
Mexican Calendar Girls: Angela Villalba
★ ★ ★ ★

This a lovely book that is written in both Spanish and English. There are over 50+ full color photos of historical calendar art from various artists & companies. 

What I did notice was the tendency to anglicize the women, most were not of discernible Native Descent, and that I found perplexing!

Contents include: Introduction, Classic Calendars, National Identity, Celebrations & Customs, Macho Women & Cowgirls, Sexy, Exclusive Calendars, Appendices, Artist Biographies, U.S. Calendar Companies, Bibliography, Index by Artist, and Acknowledgements.

A very lovely & interesting book....
The Dress Maker of Khair Khana: Gayle Tzemach Lemmon     
★ ★ ★

This is a very interesting piece of Journalism, at least it seems to be written in a journalistic manner/view. I say this as we never get to "know" the young women involved, except through their work....

It is the story of a young Afghani woman, Kamela, began a dressmaking business in order to support herself & her four sisters during the Taliban regime.

The story is one of hardship, danger, & courage mixed with hope and many surprises.

The Caliph's House: Tahir Shah
★ ★ ★

I actually began reading this book several years ago & put it down as I didn't have the interest to finish it, but I guess "Things Change"....

In 2004, Tahir Shah, purchased a house in  Casablanca, Morocco known as Dar Khalifa. It was once owned by wealthy people but had fallen into disrepair and it had the distinction of being on the border of the slums.....

Upon arriving Shah & his family came upon the "guardians" of Dar Khalifa, who of course were more than reluctant to accept the family & the changes they proposed to make to the the house & property, lest they displease Qandisha, the resident Jinn (who was eventually "exorcised"). 

Not one to be discouraged, Shah went ahead with the onerous project, meeting & dealing w/ more than one "difficult" party....  In the process he did meet a few friends of his grandfather's and made many new friends as well......

It amazed me, that a man of well being, who himself was from Afghanistan, allowed himself to be so cowed by the people who worked for him!

But it was an interesting book, well written and rather detailed towards the end describing the interior construction of the house.

The Quotable Stoner: Holden Blunts
★ ★ ★

I was seriously hoping this would be more intelligent, entertaining & of some future use in my writings..... Sadly, not to be.

Contents: Introduction, Pot Cultures,  Pot Etiquette, The Stoner's Kitchen, Buzz Enhancers, The High Life, Rebelling Against Man, Legally Blissed, This is You on Drugs, This is Your Mom on D rugs, A Natural High, High on God, Stoner Utopia, Mixed Weedia, Reefer Madness, Whose Higher, Welcome to Stonerville, Worst-case Cannabis Scenario, Once Upon a Time When I was High, You Must Have Been High When You..., Afterword, & Acknowledgements

243 pages of Stonerisims....  from Margaret Cho, Jay & Silent Bob, Dennis Hooper, Cheech Marin, Jerry Garcia, Jack Nicholson, Tommy Chong, Meat Loaf, Phylllis Diller, John Wayne, Quentin Tarantino, Johnny Depp, & many many more.

"Marijuana in its natural form is one of the safest therapeutically active substances known to man" --DEA Administrative Law: Judge Frances L. Young

And there you have it!

The Levy Caper: David Shaw
★ ★

This is an account of bank securities fraud gone wrong; a true comedy of errors.  Alan Levy was a gambler deep in debt to more than one bookmaker when he decided it would be safer if he moved to California.

He owned several successful business that he ran into the ground from his gambling debts; one of which was the first Boutique in L.A. to sell French fashions.

Then in February 1971 Levy came upon the "Opportunity of a lifetime"; $800,000,000 in negotiable securities was dumped in his lap.  Levy learned to turn a blank stock certificate in to a "valid" one, and proceeded to trust all the wrong people trying to unload them......

Levy's greed got the better of him and the egotistical little con-man got conned!  All I can say is Levy was nothing more than a small time greedy little schmuck who got off easy.....

Friday, September 11, 2015

15 Interesting Facts about Reading for International Literacy Day

Interesting facts about literacy and reading in honour of International Literacy Day
In honour of International Literacy Day on 8 September, we’ve put together fifteen of our favourite facts about literacy and reading. Some are funny, some are surprising, and some are shocking; but all, we hope, are interesting in some way. This post might be considered a sequel to our previous post comprising 10 great quotations for International Literacy Day.
Reading for just six minutes a day can reduce stress by 68%.
‘Bibliotherapy’ is ‘the use of reading matter for therapeutic purposes’.
In 1879, Charles J. Dunphie published a book called Sweet Sleep: A Course of Reading Intended to Promote That Delightful Enjoyment.
All my good reading, you might say, was done in the toilet. – Henry Miller
Cat reading
Joseph Conrad, author of Heart of Darkness, avoided reading reviews of his work and instead measured them with a ruler. The longer the review, the better he felt about it.
On days when he gave public readings from his novels, Charles Dickens had two tablespoons of rum with fresh cream for breakfast, and a pint of champagne for tea.
My personal hobbies are reading, listening to music, and silence. – Edith Sitwell
A study of 1995 found that 85% of young people who appear before the juvenile courts of the US are functionally illiterate.
In a recent survey of 2,000 people, it was found that 26% of readers lied about having readGeorge Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four.
A man ought to read just as inclination leads him; for what he reads as a task will do him little good. – Samuel Johnson
Cat on books
At the Chatterley trial in 1960, when Penguin Books was put on trial for publishing Lady Chatterley’s Lover by D. H. Lawrence, the prosecuting lawyer asked the jury if it was ‘a book that you’d even wish your wife or your servants to read’.
Someone who is ‘omnilegent’ has read everything, or is familiar with a great amount of literature.
H. L. Mencken came up with a word for people who read too much: ‘bibliobibuli’. (As if there is such a thing as reading too much!)
Why can’t people just sit and read books and be nice to each other? – David Baldacci
J. R. R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis held competitions to see who could read the longest excerpt of ‘bad’ romantic novelist Amanda McKittrick Ross without laughing.
B. S. Johnson’s 1969 novel The Unfortunates was published as a box full of unbound pages which the reader could put together in any order.
Canadian intellectual Marshall McLuhan thought readers should turn to page 69 of any book to determine whether it’s worth reading.
If you enjoyed these facts about reading, you might also enjoy our 30 interesting facts about books.
Image (top): Cat reading a book, via BibBornem on Pixabay; image (bottom): cat resting viaDustytoes on Pixabay.