Thursday, October 2, 2008

This Week in Reading Sept. 28 - Oct. 4

It is Banned Books Week and the library and publishing worlds take time to remind Americans that the freedom to write, to speak one's mind includes the freedom to read and hear thoughts of other minds. Just ask Nobel prizewinner Elie Wiesel what book banning can lead to. As we are reminded this election season people who would limit access to books in libraries believe they are doing so for good reasons, but public libraries like this one are committed to allowing individuals to decide for oneself, just as, in the American way, we vote.

This week's list of author birthdays gives us a few well known names but not as many as last week. There's the literary line up, Gore Vidal, Graham Greene, Thomas Wolfe, and Truman Capote with noted poets Wallace Stevens and W. S. Merwin. Also reflective of the week is the wisdom of Confucius and the foolish but heartwarming naivete of Miguel de Cervantes's Don Quixote.

Bestselling authors include romance novelist Jackie Collins and thriller author Anne Rice along with humorist Roy Blount, Jr., and fantasist Jack Finney. In our hearts from the last century are those colorful New York voices, Damon Runyon , Groucho Marx, and Brendan Gill.

This Week's Question: Two of the authors on this week's list have been on the American Library Association's list of the 100 Most Challenged Books in the last two decades. One appears under a pseudonym and one whose book was frequently challenged saw the same book on the list of Top Novels of the 20th Century. (And most of those were, of course, challenged, too.) Who are they?

Answer to Last Week's Question: "People need trouble— a little frustration to sharpen the spirit on, toughen it. Artists do; I don't mean you need to live in a rat hole or gutter, but you have to learn fortitude, endurance. Only vegetables are happy." William Faulkner, whose works faced frequent banning, would probably agree that people on both sides of book banning controversies need to endure each other's fortitude and frustration. Librarians also heed Faulkner's advice to writers: "Read, read, read. Read everything -- trash, classics, good and bad. See how they do it." We fill our libraries with books to help the next new writers, thinkers, and voters to do just that.

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