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Banned Books Week 2014

It’s Banned Books Week again. If you’re not familiar, Banned Books Week is an annual week-long series of events that celebrate our freedom to read, and call attention to how often that freedom is threatened and quashed. This year the promotions run September 21st – 27th.

The American Library Association is the brains behind the operation, and they work hard to spread awareness about the threat of censorhip, and to remove barriers to literacy and books. As of the writing of this post, this is the most current list of Most Challenged Books (from 2013 – a list from 2014 will likely be forthcoming shortly after the year’s end). These are the books that various people, for various reasons have tried to restrict access to. Rather than simply choosing not to read the books themselves, they’ve taken it upon themselves to try to ensure nobody else can, either.  Here is a video review of one of the most often challenged or banned books from the list below, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie. Watch our video, read the book, decide for yourself.



Here is the most current list:


1. Captain Underpants by Dav Pilkey
The bestselling series has been cited for offensive language, unsuited to age group and violence since its first book hit libraries in 1997. It topped the list in 2012, too.

2. The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
As one of America’s most important authors, Toni Morrison is no stranger to book bans and challenges. Her 1970 debut novel The Bluest Eye has been cited for offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group and violence.

3. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
Despite winning the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature along with a throng of other awards, the book has been cited for drugs, alcohol, smoking, offensive language, racism, sexually explicit and unsuited to age group. We’ve included it on our list of 50 Essential Young Adult Novels.

4. Fifty Shades of Grey by EL James
It’s no surprise to see the 2012 bestseller on yet another challenged list. It’s been cited for nudity, offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit and unsuited to age group.

5. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Arguably the most popular series since Harry Potter, The Hunger Games has been cited for religious viewpoint and unsuited to age group.

6. A Bad Boy Can Be Good for A Girl by Tanya Lee Stone
The School Library Journal called it book of the week when it first hit shelves in 2006, but challengers cite it for drugs, alcohol, smoking, nudity, offensive language and sexually explicit.

7. Looking for Alaska by John Green
John Green is the author of the hit novel The Fault in Our Stars. His debut novel Looking for Alaska won the 2006 Michael L. Printz Award from the American Library Association, but is cited for drugs, alcohol, smoking, sexually explicit and unsuited to age group.

8. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
Another book from our list of 50 Essential Young Adult Novels. The 1999 coming-of-age novel was re-popularized with the 2012 film adaption starring Emma Watson. It’s cited for drugs, alcohol, smoking, homosexuality, sexually explicit and unsuited to age group.

9. Bless Me Ultima by Rudolfo Anaya
The 1972 novel was awarded the Premio Quinto Sol Award which recognizes the best fictional work by Mexican American authors as a means of promoting Chicano writers. It’s cited for occult, satanism, offensive language, religious viewpoint and sexually explicit

10. Bone by Jeff Smith
The popular graphic novel series for children has been cited for political viewpoint, racism and violence.

Banning books, challenging books, and of course even burning books is neither unusual nor new, but each year we see more voices added to the fight against it, and the fight for access to literature and to information. What can you do to help keep books accessible for everyone who wants to read them? Get involved! From the ALA web site:

“The ALA Office of Intellectual Freedom (OIF) offers a variety of resources for libraries, schools, and other organizations that want to get involved with and promote Banned Books Week. See the links on the left for information on promotional materials for sale at the ALA Store, free materials you can download or print off of the ALA website, and ideas for planning a Banned Books Week event in your community.”

See more ideas and resources about the prevention of censorship on the ALA web site.

For Auction: Shaw’s Shovel, Bradbury’s Poem About Same

George Bernard Shaw's garden spadeThis is the second bit of good bloggery we’ve had as a result of George Bernard Shaw objects. Longtime Reading Copy readers may remember that we once had George Bernard Shaw’s typewriter for sale on the site. This time around, the item of interest is George Bernard Shaw’s garden spade, with which he apparently planted a mulberry tree in 1936, on the occasion of his 80th birthday. There is a plaque on the handle of the spade, which reads: “‘With this spade Bernard Shaw planted a mulberry tree in the public garden in Great Malvern on his 80th birthday, the 26 July 1936. He then presented it to Harry Batchelor Higgs, his gardener and faithful friend for 34 years.’”

The spade was later gifted to Ray Bradbury, who was a tremendous fan of the playwright’s work. Bradbury (who dabbled in much more, writing-wise, than just science fiction and fantasy, you see) was so moved by owning such a powerful object that he wrote a poem, appropriately titled “G.B.S. and the Spade”. The poem, rumored to be quite lengthy, imagines the spade imbued with powers to facilitate a conversation between Bradbury and the Nobel Prize-winner, who Bradbury once named as the one person he would choose to meet, if he could. Bradbury himself passed away in 2012 at the age of 91, and the garden spade, along with the accompanying poem, are now up for auction by Nate D. Sanders Fine Autographs & Memorabilia, and will come complete with a Certificate of Authenticity from the Ray Bradbury estate for the winning bidder. As of the writing of this post, there is one bid at $5,000, and just over three days left in which to bid.

If you’re here for the Ray Bradbury more than the George Bernard Shaw, you may also be interested in Nate D. Sanders’ other Ray Bradbury memorabilia auctions, which include much art – lithographs, book cover art, drawings, a suit jacket and projection slides, and much more. One more item worthy of note is this 16 X 20″ painting of Ray Bradbury himself by L.J. Dopp. Good lord I want to own this.Ray Bradbury painting by L.J. Dopp

2014 National Book Awards Longlist

Well it’s a big week for longlists in the literary world. First the Giller Prize Longlist came out, and now the National Book Awards are taking their turn, too. In fact, the National Book Awards longlist was released earlier than the awards committee would have liked, after news outlets leaked it early. So here we are.

Redeployment by Phil Klay
Here are the ten longlist contenders for The National Book Award for Fiction:
An Unnecessary Woman by Rabih Alameddine
Wolf in White Van by John Darnielle
All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
Redeployment by Phil Klay
Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
Thunderstruck & Other Stories by Elizabeth McCracken
Orfeo by Richard Powers
Lila by Marilynne Robinson
Some Luck by Jane Smiley
The UnAmericans by Molly Antopol

Of those I have actually only ever read Marilynne Robinson, but I really enjoyed both Home and Housekeeping and will be seeking out more of her work. I’m also excited to read more from the list. It’s rare that a list has so few authors I’ve explored. Lots do to!

And here are the ten longlist contenders for The National Book Award for Non-Fiction:

Tennessee Williams: Mad Pilgrimage of the Flesh by John LahrCan’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? by Roz Chast
The Heathen School: A Story of Hope and Betrayal in the Age of the Early Republic by John Demos
No Good Men Among the Living: America, the Taliban, and the War Through Afghan Eyes by Anand Gopal
The Mantle of Command: FDR at War, 1941-1942 by Nigel Hamilton
The Innovators: How a Group of Inventors, Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution by Walter Isaacson
Tennessee Williams: Mad Pilgrimage of the Flesh by John Lahr
Age of Ambition: Chasing Fortune, Truth, and Faith in the New China by Evan OsnosWhen Paris Went Dark: The City of Light Under German Occupation, 1940-1944 by Ronald C. Rosbottom
Nature’s God: The Heretical Origins of the American Republic by Matthew Stewart
The Meaning of Human Existence by Edward O. Wilson

Don’t Miss The 2014 Vancouver Book Fair

Books at the Vancouver Book Fair

Books at The Vancouver Book Fair

The 2014 Vancouver Book Fair is coming up quickly, and booklovers who have attended in past years know this is an event not to be missed. As Western Canada’s only book fair dedicated to rare, collectible and antique books, there is sure to be something for everyone from dabbling novices to serious and established collectors. This year’s fair takes place Saturday October 4th and Sunday October 5th, and will once more be held at UBC Robson Square in Vancouver. Along with the Alcuin Society, AbeBooks is once more a proud sponsor of the event.

Attendees of the fair will be treated to a wide variety of literary rarities. From the Vancouver Book Fair web site:

“A wide selection of antiquarian, collectible and rare books, ephemera, maps, prints, manuscripts, photographs and works on paper will be on offer at the fair – including Canadiana; children’s and illustrated; fine press and limited editions; history and military history; literature and fine arts; modern first editions and signed copies; natural history; travel and exploration; science and technology as well as many other subject areas. The items on offer will range from 15th century incunabula to 21st century modern first editions.”

Some of this year’s exhibiting booksellers include:

When: Saturday, October 4th 1pm-7pm, and Sunday, October 5th 11am-4pm
Where: UBC Robson Square, 800 Robson Street, Vancouver, BC (convenient parking both nearby and underground)
How much: $8.00 Admission (good for both days – and if you register your attendance beforehand on the web site, you can receive a $2.00 discount)

If you love the smell of old books or have an empty shelf spot just begging for something beautiful, make sure to include the Vancouver Book Fair in your weekend plans for October 4th-5th.

Giller Prize Longlist for 2014

The longlist has been announced for the 2014 Scotiabank Giller Prize, Canada’s most prestigious literary honour. The Giller Prize was established in 1994 and has been recognizing and rewarding outstanding literary talent ever since to the author of the best Canadian novel or short story collection published in English. The prize sees cash being awarded to the winner and each of the four other finalists. This year, the 20th anniversary of the prize, marks a significant increase in prize money, with the winning prize doubling from $50,000 to $100,000, and the finalist prizes doubling from $5,000 to $10,000.


Us Conductors by Sean Michaels

Here is this year’s longlist:

Waiting for the Man by Arjun Basu
The Betrayers by David Bezmozgis
American Innovations by Rivka Galchen
Tell by Frances Itani
Watch How We Walk by Jennifer Lovegrove
Us Conductors by Sean Michaels
Moving Forward Sideways Like a Crab by Shani Mootoo
The Girl Who Was Saturday Night by Heather O’Neill
Paradise and Elsewhere by Kathy Page
My October by Claire Holden Rothman
All My Puny Sorrows by Miriam Toews
The Ever After of Ashwin Rao by Padma Viswanathan

I’m excited to see a title there by Montreal’s Heather O’Neill. O’Neill published her debut novel, Lullabies for Little Criminals in 2006 to much critical acclaim, and The Girl Who Was Saturday Night is her first novel since.

The shortlist will be announced October 6th, and we’ll find out who wins the hundred grand and the winning title on November 10th. Congratulations and good luck to all the longlisted authors.

Best Books for Babies – the Top 10 Board Books

Snack Time for Cow by Michael Dahl

Hello readers. I have been off for the past year, giving birth to and caring for a delicious baby, so please forgive my blog absence. And while some things never change – I am still a reader through and through – there are a couple of key differences.

First, it seems that my preferred position in bed may be altered forever. While I was growing my son, my usually-favored choice to read in bed on my stomach and elbows stopped being an option early on. Unwilling to give up my nightly read-to-sleep, I resorted to the more pedestrian choice of sitting up, against the headboard with pillows, and I’m afraid it stuck and I’m now a convert. Apologies to my tummy-sleeping comrades for the defection.

More importantly, my reading habits have evolved. Pre-motherhood, I read for a minimum one hour every night, racing through two books a week. Now, the grown-up reading portion of my night more typically consists of 11 minutes of reading the same paragraph repeatedly, struggling to grasp it, until exhaustion overtakes me. It isn’t pretty, and I laugh mirthlessly, if fondly, at the naiveté of the statements I enthusiastically made whilst pregnant about how much reading I was going to get done on maternity leave.

At least I can say I read a full book every night now, however…but it’s a board book. Board books for babies are sturdy cardboard, designed perfectly for little hands, and more resistant to exuberant smacking and accidental tearing than standard paper.

We’ve been reading to our son every night since he was 5 months old, and it’s been so fun. At first he just listened. Now at 12 months he listens, looks, turns pages, laughs, and even turns back to see favorite pictures again. The nightly book is family time, a signal that it’s bed time, and an important part of our routine. While some of the books aim to impart various lessons in alphabet, colors, shapes and the like, our favorites are just the silly fun ones, particularly those that rhyme. We know we’re helping him develop language, and hope we’re laying the foundation for a future full of passion for books. We’ve read approximately 200 board books now, and these (below) are the top 10 best books for babies we’ve found – the criteria being these are the ones my son giggled at and smacked the most. If you find you like one of them, definitely check out other titles by the same author, as many of them are quite prolific. Sandra Boynton has many very fun ones including the Little Pookie board books, Eric Carle has written and illustrated scads, and Michael Dahl has several, as well. If none of these float your boat, there are countless other marvelous board books for babies to enjoy. The main thing is the quality time spent reading.

Very Hairy Bear by Alice Schertle             Belly Button Book by Sandra Boynton           The Big Eating Book by Guido van Genechten

Dinosaur Roar by Paul & Henrietta Stickland             Farmyard Beat by Lindsey Craig           Farmyard Rhymes by Clare Beaton

The House in the Night by Susan Marie Swanson            I Kissed the Baby by Mary Murphy            Pancakes, Pancakes! by Eric Carle

Want more like this? Check out our Tips For Reading to Children post, as well as Best Books to Read Aloud to Children.

Beautiful rare antiquarian Swedish books from Mats Rehnström

Welcome to Mats Rehnström Rare Books from Stockholm, who has recently joined the AbeBooks marketplace. Founded in 1991, Mats Rehnström Rare Books is an antiquarian bookstore specializing in old and rare Swedish books from the early days of printing up until 1860.

This seller also offers a wide variety of reference books on bibliography, books about books, and history of literature. They also have a selection of post-1860 books that are inscribed or feature  beautiful bindings.

A member of ILAB, Mats Rehnström Rare Books is located in a building owned by the Royal Swedish Academy of Fine Arts. Below is a selection of rare books from this bookseller. Find books from Mats Rehnström.

First Danish translation of Alice in Wonderland from 1875 featuring John Tenniel’s illustrations

Neues Kriegs- Ingenieur- Artillerie, from 1757, the most comprehensive military dictionary of the era

Sweriges rijkes siö-lagh, from 1667, a first edition of ‘The Maritime Law of Sweden’

Essai sur l’histoire naturelle des corallines, from 1756, containing a printed dedication to Queen Lovisa Ulrika of Sweden. This is a work on corals along the coasts of England and Ireland.

Introducing Crap Taxidermy, the must-have coffee table book

Badly stuffed animals

The blog Crappy Taxidermy has spawned a book, Crap Taxidermy. If you thought no more damage could be done to an animal after its death, think again. This book features many examples of oddly posed animals, badly stuffed animals and bizarre animal hybrids created on some person’s kitchen table.  If you enjoy this book, then you may also be strangely drawn to Walter Potter’s Curious World of Taxidermy… and require help.

A badly stuffed cat

2014 Booker Prize shortlist announced

The shortlist for the 2014 Man Booker Prize has been announced. The six books shortlisted are:

The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan
The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan
In the despair of a Japanese POW camp on the Thai-Burma Death Railway, Australian surgeon Dorrigo Evans is haunted by his affair with his uncle’s young wife two years earlier. His life is a daily struggle to save the men under his command from starvation, cholera and pitiless beatings. Until he receives a letter that will change him forever. Moving deftly from the POW camp to contemporary Australia, from the experiences of Dorrigo and his comrades to those of the Japanese guards, this novel tells a story of love, death, and family, exploring the many forms of good and evil, war and truth, and guilt.

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler
We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler
Meet the Cooke family: Mother and Dad, brother Lowell, sister Fern, and our narrator, Rosemary, who begins her story in the middle. She has her reasons. “I spent the first 18years of my life defined by this one fact: that I was raised with a chimpanzee,” she says. “It’s never going to be the first thing I share with someone. I tell you Fern was a chimp and already you aren’t thinking of her as my sister. But until Fern’s expulsion, I’d scarcely known a moment alone. She was my twin, my fun-house mirror, my whirlwind other half, and I loved her as a sister.”

J by Howard Jacobson
J by Howard Jacobson
Set in the future, J is a love story of incomparable strangeness, both tender and terrifying. Two people fall in love, not yet knowing where they have come from or where they are going. Kevern doesn t know why his father always drew two fingers across his lips when he said a world starting with a J. It isn’t the time or place to be asking questions. Ailinn too has grown up in the dark about who she was or where she came from. On their first date Kevern kisses the bruises under her eyes. Brutality has grown commonplace.Hanging over the lives of all the characters in this novel is a momentous catastrophe – a past event shrouded in suspicion, denial and apology, now referred to as What Happened, If It Happened. J is a novel to be talked about in the same breath as Nineteen Eighty Four and Brave New World.

The Lives of Others by Neel Mukherjee
The Lives of Others by Neel Mukherjee
It is 1967, Calcutta. Unnoticed by his family, Supratik has become dangerously involved in student unrest, agitation, extremist political activism. Compelled by an idealistic desire to change his life and the world around him, all he leaves behind is this note. ‘Ma, I feel exhausted with consuming, with taking and grabbing and using. I am so bloated that I feel I cannot breathe any more. I am leaving to find some air, some place where I shall be able to purge myself, push back against the life given me and make my own. I feel I live in a borrowed house. It’s time to find my own… — Forgive me…’.’

How to be Both by Ali Smith / signed copies
How to Be Both by Ali Smith
A novel all about art’s versatility. Borrowing from painting’s fresco technique to make an original literary double-take, it s a fast-moving genre-bending conversation between forms, times, truths and fictions. There s a renaissance artist of the 1460s. There s the child of a child of the 1960s. Two tales of love and injustice twist into a singular yarn where time gets timeless, structural gets playful, knowing gets mysterious, fictional gets real – and all life’s givens get given a second chance. Smith can make anything happen, which is why she is one of our most exciting writers today .

To Rise Again at a Decent Hour by Joshua Ferris / signed copies
To Rise Again at a Decent Hour by Joshua Ferris
Paul O’Rourke is a man made of contradictions: he loves the world, but doesn’t know how to live in it. He’s a Luddite addicted to his iPhone, a dentist with a nicotine habit, a rabid Red Sox fan devastated by their victories, and an atheist not quite willing to let go of God. Then someone begins to impersonate Paul online, and he watches in horror as a website, a Facebook page, and a Twitter account are created in his name. What begins as an outrageous violation of his privacy soon becomes something more soul-frightening: the possibility that the online Paul might be a better version of the real thing.

The winner is announced on  October 14.

The 2013 Man Booker Prize was awarded to Eleanor Catton for The Luminairies. Just 28 years old when the prize was awarded, the Canadian-born New Zealander was the youngest winner in the prize’s history. Signed copies of The Luminaries are still available.

Classic Children’s Books Re-imagined by Artist Anna Bond

Even if you don’t know the name Anna Bond, you might recognize her trademark hand-painted flowers. Her company, Rifle Paper Co., has been making stationary, art prints and even wallpaper in her signature style since 2009, but her colorful flowers and painted gold letters had not adorned a book cover until her recent collaboration with Puffin Books.

The Florida-based artist has designed a hardcover series called Puffin in Bloom, featuring the children’s classics Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery, Heidi by Johanna Spyri, A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett and Little Women by Louisa May Alcott.

I couldn’t imagine a more fitting artist to re-imagine these beloved books, and I’m hoping there’s more to come (The Secret Garden, Little House in the Big Woods, and Black Beauty, please, Ms. Bond) but for now, enjoy these…

Anne of Green Gables by L.M. MontgomeryHeidi by Johanna Spyri A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett Little Women by Louisa May Alcott