Mapping Censorship

In our ongoing coverage of Banned Books Week, we've highlighted challenged classics, shared last year's most frequently challenged books, and invited you to support intellectual freedom by taking part a virtual read-out.  Now it's time to take a look at censorship across America in a map showing bans & challenges nationwide from 2007-2011. 

The map shows that public debate about the appropriateness of books is as vigorous as ever, even here in the Mastics-Moriches-Shirley community.  Included on this nationwide map is a listing for William Floyd Middle School, where Lauren Myracle's TTYL was challenged in 2007.  This book, written in the form of instant messenger conversations, tells the story of three teenage girls as they begin 10th grade, and is controversial for its poor grammar, foul language, and sexual content.  Have you or your child read this book?  What do you think?

Passionate about intellectual freedom?

In this blog's continuing coverage of Banned Books Week (Sept 24-Oct 1), we've listed a number of books that have been (or continue to be) banned and challenged in America's libraries.  Now, we's like to invite all of you who feel passionate about intellectual freedom to participate in the American Library Association's virtual read-out.  Upload a video of yourself reading from a banned or challenged book (max 2 minutes) to their dedicated YouTube channel, and support the freedom to read.  Complete instructions can be found here.

Unbanned Books: Slaughterhouse Five & Twenty Boy Summer

Just in time for Banned Books Week!  According to this article in Reuters (republished in this issue of Shelf Awareness), a school board in southwest Missouri unanimously voted to overturn a previous ban on two books, Twenty Boy Summer and Slaughterhouse Five.  The controversial books include violence, offensive language, and sexually explicit material which run contrary to Biblical teaching.  The decision allows the books to be available in the school, but only parents or guardians may check them out.  Additionally, the books cannot be added to teachers' required reading lists.  Have you read one of these books?  Weigh in by commenting! 

What exactly is a catcher in the rye?

Asked to list classic books, many people will name The Catcher in the Rye without really even really knowing what it's about.  If this is you, perhaps it's time to read (or re-read) this famous 1951 literary work, listed in Modern Library's 100 best novels of all timeThe Catcher in the Rye tells the story of Holden Caulfield, a cynical high school student on a crusade against adult phoniness, hypocrisy, and censorship (ironic given the frequency with which the book itself has been challenged).  The title refers to a scene in which Holden expresses his desire to protect children's innocence by symbolically catching them in the rye field.

Have there ever been any classics you faked reading?  No really, have there?  Share your stories by commenting!

2010's Top 10 Most Often Challenged Books

Continuing our coverage of Banned Books Week... We've all heard about banned/challenged classics like The Catcher in the Rye, but are there still books that ignite controversy?  Apparently so.  Here are the top ten most challenged books of 2010.  Unsurprisingly, the books that inspire the greatest debate are for youth; of this list, one is a children's picture book and the rest are written for a teen readership.  Eight of the ten books are fiction; two are nonfiction.

1) And Tango Makes Three, by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson
2) The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie
3) Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley
4) Crank, by Ellen Hopkins
5) The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins
6) Lush, by Natasha Friend
7) What My Mother Doesn't Know, by Sonya Sones
8) Nickel and Dimed, by Barbara Ehrenreich
9) Revolutionary Voices, edited by Amy Sonnie
10) Twilight, by Stephenie Meyer

Have you read any of these books?  What do you think?

Read Banned Books!

Banned Books Week (Sept 24 - Oct 1) is an annual celebration of the First Amendment and people's freedom to read.  Many works now considered classic literature were once banned from libraries across the country due to what some people deemed to be offensive content.  Why not judge for yourself?  Banned classics include:

1. The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald
2. The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger
3. The Grapes of Wrath, by John Steinbeck
4. To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
5. The Color Purple, by Alice Walker

... and many others.  In fact, nearly half of Radcliffe's Rival/Modern Library's Top 100 Novels appear on the list of banned and challenged books.  Banned Books Week starts today; happy reading!

Library Books for Kindle

Attention Kindle users - the day you've been waiting for has finally arrived!  Library e-books are now compatible with all Kindle devices and apps.  FAQs from Amazon are available here.  Visit and click "free downloads" to browse and check out e-books using your valid Suffolk County Library card.  Problems?  Call your home library (MMSCL's number is 631-399-1511) for live help.

We Bought A Zoo: Book to Movie

Another book is making the jump to the silver screen: We Bought A Zoo: The Amazing True Story of a Young Family, a Broken Down Zoo, and the 200 Wild Animals that Changed their Lives Forever.  In a real-life version of the classic TV series "Green Acres," a former British newspaper columnist tells how he uprooted his family to the English countryside and purchased a dilapidated zoo, which he planned to refurbish and reopen as a family business.  However, a lack of money, skeptical staff, family tension, and his wife's devastating illness complicated his plans.  If you enjoy uplifting stories about animals, escaping the corporate world, and the healing power of hope, check this book out before the movie (premiering December 23) makes it much harder to get yours hands on.

Top Ten Romance of 2011

It's only halfway through September; isn't it a little early to start publishing those year-end "top ten" lists?  Not for the folks over at Booklist, who have assembled this list of the top 10 romance novels of 2011.  Titles available through your Community Library include:  
  • Animal Magnetism by Jill Shalvis. - A budding relationship between a commitment-shy former Special Forces pilot and a gutsy animal rescuer launches a new series set in Idaho’s Bitterroot Mountains.
  • Call Me Irresistible by Susan Elizabeth Phillips. - Everyone blames Meg for her best friend’s decision to leave Ted at the altar in RITA Award–winning Phillips’ irresistibly lively romantic comedy.
  • Cloudy with a Chance of Marriage by Kieran Kramer. - How can Jilly run a respectable bookshop if her neighbor, a Royal Navy captain, keeps throwing wild parties? Kramer’s devilishly clever plot makes for a laugh-out-loud, sweet Regency romance.
  • How to Marry a Duke by Vicky Dreiling. - An enchanting Regency romance debut involving a rake and a matchmaker, a tricky dilemma, and witty repartee.
  • The Lady of the Storm by Kathryne Kennedy. - Blacksmith Giles is charged with protecting Cecily, who is half elf, in this superb story of suspense, magic, and passion, the second in Kennedy’s thrilling and distinctive Elven Lords series (following The Fire Lord's Lover, available through interloan with other Suffolk County libraries).
  • Lord Langley Is Back in Town by Elizabeth Boyle. - Lord Langley has a plan to outmaneuver his enemies, if only Minerva doesn’t decide to kill him herself in RITA Award–winning Boyle’s luscious conclusion to her dazzling Widows of Standon trilogy (following How I Met My Countess and Mad About the Duke).
  • Only Mine by Susan Mallery. - Alaska pilot Finn is furious when his twin brothers drop out of college to appear on a reality-television show, True Love or Fool’s Gold, in Mallery’s witty, emotion-packed romance.
  • An Unlikely Suitor by Nancy Moser. - Christian fiction.  Italian immigrant and dressmaker Lucy Scarpelli finds herself in an unlikely friendship with a socialite, which leads to forbidden love and danger in Christy Award–winning Moser’s historical tale of resilient, uncompromising women.  

Celebrating "Fall"

The kids are back in school, the leaves are turning color, and in the mornings there's a nip in the air.  Celebrate the fall by checking out a book from your Community Library's "Fall into Autumn" display, downstairs by the Readers' Advisory desk.  Highlighted titles all include the word "fall" or "falls," though they don't necessarily have anything to do with the season.  Click the book covers above to find out more about each book, or visit this link for the complete brochure highlighting 12 "fall" books available from your Community Library.  Is your favorite "fall" book missing?  Please let us know!

New Series Launch: Only Time Will Tell

Jeffrey Archer has launched the promising new Clifton Chronicles series with Only Time Will Tell, the epic tale of an orphaned working-class boy in 1930s England whose life  changes radically when he wins a scholarship to an exclusive school.  Years later, supicious events cause the main character to wonder if his father really was a dockworker, as he's been told.  The forthcoming series is planned to span a century and follow two intertwined families. If you enjoy well-developed characters set against a richly detailed historical backdrop, this new series opener might just get you started on an epic journey you'll never forget.

Mommy-Track Mysteries coming soon to a TV near you

Another book series is making the jump from print to television, according to this article from Deadline.  Ayelet Waldman's much-loved mysteries feature a prosecutor turned stay-at-home mom who still dabbles in crime-busting as a private investigator.  Titles in this lighthearted mystery series include Nursery Crimes, A Playdate with Death, and Death Gets a Time-Out; check one out from your community library today!

Rising Star: The Language of Flowers

It's no surprise that The Language of Flowers has been a rising favorite among the New York Times bestsellers.  This debut novel tells "the story of a young woman whose gift for flowers helps her change the lives of others even as she struggles to overcome her own past."  Dealing with such issues as adoption, foster parenting, and emancipation of minors, The Language of Flowers uses horticultural imagery to share a powerful story of love and family.  An appendix includes an updated Victorian flower dictionary, where the traditional symbolic meanings of various blooms are explained.  A full review from the New York Times is available here.  Reserve a copy of this rising star at your Community Library by clicking the book cover, selecting "request," and inputting your library card number.

Robopocalypse: Book to Movie

Recently, this blog highlighted the debut novel Robopocalypse, correctly predicting that it was a book with big potential.  In fact, the book has gone on to climb the New York Times bestseller list, and it's being turned into a movie directed by none other than Steven Spielberg.  Although the premise (an evil artificial intelligence leads a robot revolution against humankind) is not particularly original, author Daniel H. Wilson's technical background (he holds a doctorate in robotics from Carnegie Mellon University) lends authenticity to the story.  Click here for the full text of an interview with the author.  The forthcoming film adaptation is scheduled for release on Independence Day weekend in 2013.

Why read fiction?

If you're one of those people for whom reading fiction is a guilty pleasure, good news: findings from a recent study suggest that reading fiction improves empathy and can also provide a sense of belonging that is as satisfying and meaningful as it is in real-life social groups.  For details about the study, which used questions about Twilight and Harry Potter to assess how fiction influences its fans, click here for the full article from The Guardian.  Now when your conscience tells you to skip that fluffy novel, you finally have a good counterargument!

Big Dead Place: Antarctic Memoir Inspires New TV Series

Ever wonder what it would be like to live on Earth's coldest, driest, most inhospitable continent?  If so, you might have already read the 2005 memoir Big Dead Place: Inside the Strange and Menacing World of Antarctica, in which author Nicholas Johnson shares his experiences living and working at McMurdo Research Station, one of the few human outposts in that frozen land.  Now, Deadline reports that Johnson's thrilling true story is being turned into a comedic drama by HBO, with James Gandolfini as the producer and possibly the star.  Interested?  Request your copy today!

Reader Review: Dark Light by Jayne Castle

Mastics-Moriches-Shirley Community Library member Sue C. submitted this reader review; thank you!

Dark Light by Jayne Castle
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Romance set in future on world where psychic powers prevail.  Part of series.  Add a star if you like romance and happy endings.

Congratulations Hugo Winners!

Blackout and its companion novel All Clear won the coveted "Best Novel" category in the recently-announced 2011 Hugo Awards.  The story is about time-traveling scientists who become stranded in World War II.  Past well-known Hugo-winning novels available at your Community Library include Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land (1962), Herbert's Dune (1966), Le Guin's Left Hand of Darkness (1970) (a past selection in the library's book discussion group), Orson Scott Card's Ender's Game (1986), Rowling's Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2001), and Gaiman's The Graveyard Book (2009).

Reader Review: The Demon Spirit

Thanks to Mastics-Moriches-Shirley Community Library member Diana R. for submitting this reader review!

The Demon Spirit by R.A. Salvatore
Rating: 3 out of 5

Fast paced and full of action-packed mythical fantasy creatures. Even though I started at book two it was easy to get acquainted with characters - not as good as the Dark Elf series - Even though the ending makes you wait for the next sequel I didn't really love it enough to go for it.

Stupid and Contagious

For all of you who've ever rocked out to Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit," the book Stupid and Contagious, whose title pays homage to this classic rock anthem, might be worth reading.  This romantic comedy of a novel tells the story of two hate-at-first-sight neighbors who embark on a zany mission to meet the founder of Starbucks.  Published in 2006, this book is now back in the spotlight, literally; Deadline reports that NBC plans to produce "Stupid and Contagious" as a half-hour sitcom series.

Promoting Peace Through Literary Nonfiction: Dayton Prize Nominees

Yesterday, this blog reported on the fiction finalists for the 2011 Dayton Literary Peace Prize, which celebrates the power of literature to promote peace.  Here are the nominated non-fictional titles available from your Community Library:
Winners will be announced on November 13th at a special ceremony in Dayton, Ohio.

Novels Promoting Peace: Dayton Prize Finalists

This article in Shelf Awareness reported the finalists for the Dayton Literary Peace Prize, which celebrates the power of literature to promote peace.  Winners will be announced on November 13th at a special ceremony in Dayton, Ohio. Nominated novels available from your Community Library include: 
  • The Surrendered by Chang-rae Lee:  Korean orphan June Han and former GI Hector Brennan are reunited by a plot that forces them to come to terms with mysterious secrets from their past.
  • How to Read the Air by Dinaw Mengestu: The son of Ethopian immigrants decides to retrace the journey his parents took just after they moved to America.
  • Beneath the Lion's Gaze by Maaza Mengiste: After his physician father is jailed and his younger brother joins an underground resistance movement, Yonas prays to God for an end to the violence in Ethiopia on the eve of revolution in 1974. 
  • The Gendarme by Mark Mustian: Seen by those around him as a virtually senile nonagenarian, Emmet Conn is haunted by vivid memories of a past he and others deliberately worked to forget.
  • Kapitoil by Teddy Wayne: When computer programmer Karim Issar creates a program that predicts oil futures, it improves his job prospects but raises moral problems.