Tag Archives: literature

Banned Books Week 2021

This week begins the annual “Banned Books Week” which lasts through October 2.  The yearly event is sponsored by the American Library Association and promotes literacy, free speech and a free press.  It’s the regular battle against the self-styled, self-appointed overlords of what is supposedly proper and improper for everyone to see and read.  I’ve always believed this should be a year-long event, as free speech and free press are under constant threat – not just in, but in totalitarian regimes, like North Korea, but even in open societies, such as the United States.

Keep writing and keep fighting!

The ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom tracked 156 challenges to library, school, and university materials and services in 2020.  A total of 273 books were targeted for removal, but here is a list of the most challenged, along with the reasons cited for censoring the books.  Some are familiar classics, while others are new arrivals.

George by Alex Gino
Reasons: Challenged, banned, and restricted for LGBTQIA+ content, conflicting with a religious viewpoint, and not reflecting “the values of our community”

Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You by Ibram X. Kendi and Jason Reynolds
Reasons: Banned and challenged because of author’s public statements, and because of claims that the book contains “selective storytelling incidents” and does not encompass racism against all people

All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely
Reasons: Banned and challenged for profanity, drug use, and alcoholism, and because it was thought to promote anti-police views, contain divisive topics, and be “too much of a sensitive matter right now”

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
Reasons: Banned, challenged, and restricted because it was thought to contain a political viewpoint and it was claimed to be biased against male students, and for the novel’s inclusion of rape and profanity

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
Reasons: Banned and challenged for profanity, sexual references, and allegations of sexual misconduct by the author

Something Happened in Our Town: A Child’s Story About Racial Injustice by Marianne Celano, Marietta Collins, and Ann Hazzard, illustrated by Jennifer Zivoin
Reasons: Challenged for “divisive language” and because it was thought to promote anti-police views

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Reasons: Banned and challenged for racial slurs and their negative effect on students, featuring a “white savior” character, and its perception of the Black experience

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
Reasons: Banned and challenged for racial slurs and racist stereotypes, and their negative effect on students

The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
Reasons: Banned and challenged because it was considered sexually explicit and depicts child sexual abuse

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
Reasons: Challenged for profanity, and it was thought to promote an anti-police message

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Word of the Week – June 19, 2021

Irrefragable

Adjective

Latin, 16th century

Not able to be refuted or disproved; indisputable.

Example: Voting is an irrefragable right to any democratic society.

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Retro Quote – James Baldwin

“One writes out of one thing only – one’s own experience. Everything depends on how relentlessly one forces from this experience the last drop, sweet or bitter, it can possibly give. This is the only real concern of the artist, to recreate out of the disorder of life that order which is art.”

James Baldwin, Notes of a Native Son

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Word of the Week – June 12, 2021

Epigrammatic

Adjective

Latin, 17th century

Of the nature or in the style of an epigram; concise, clever, and amusing.

Example: Whether composing short stories or essays, I often rely upon my epigrammatic personality to get my point across.

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Word of the Week – May 29, 2021

Clerisy

Noun

German, 19th century

A distinct class of learned or literary people.

Example: I generally write essays and stories for the clerisy of the world.

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Word of the Week – May 22, 2021

Redivivus

Adjective

Origin: Latin, late 16th century

Come back to life; reborn.

Example: After an hour of exercise, writing in my journal, and a night of solid sleep, I felt a redivivus of my soul.

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Word of the Week – April 17, 2021

Heuristic

Adjective

Greek, 19th century

Enabling a person to discover or learn something for themselves. A heuristic process or method.

Example: A college English instructor’s heuristic approach to literature prompted me to become a better writer.

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Word of the Week – April 3, 2021

Effloresce

Verb

Latin, 18th century

Reach an optimum stage of development; blossom; (of a substance) lose moisture and turn to a fine powder on exposure to air.

Example:  Even at this age, I know my writing career has yet to effloresce.

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Word of the Week – March 27, 2021

Antediluvian

Adjective

Latin, 17th century

Absurdly outmoded or old-fashioned.  Of or relating to a time before the biblical flood.

Example: Like 8-track tape players and dial phones, the political process in Washington seems so antediluvian.

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In Memoriam – Larry McMurtry, 1936-2021

“You expect far too much of a first sentence. Think of it as analagous to a good country breakfast: what we want is something simple, but nourishing to the imagination. Hold the philosophy, hold the adjectives, just give us a plain subject and verb and perhaps a wholesome, nonfattening adverb or two.”

Larry McMurtry

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