Banned Books Week

September 22-28 marks Banned Books Week, a celebration to end the banning of books in America.

Banning books has been around for longer than you’d think; hundreds of years. Controlling what people read and absorb is censorship, and censorship is born from fear and ignorance.

Everyday, small-minded people in all fifty states challenge books that shape American minds, and it’s pretty much the most ridiculous thing ever. More ridiculous than McDonald’s breakfast hours.

Did you know at one point, books like Catcher in the RyeThe Great GatsbyGone with the WindWhere the Wild Things Are, and The Call of the Wild were all banned? And that’s only a few in the hundreds of books that have been banned. Can you imagine an English class without Catcher in the Rye? I mean, talk about an eternal cultural phenomenon just vanishing. And all because grown-ups thought it was vulgar. Like they never saw the words “Fuck You” graffitied on a wall. Or what about Gatsby’s pursuit of ‘the American dream’? Would that be such an important theme of our national identity if Gatsby had never built his mansion across from that green light?

I’m not sure why there’s even a discussion about banning the types of books people are challenging. It’s nonsense born from nonsense born from nonsense. Books that push the limits are books that matter. Banning them limits our power, our spirit. Spread the word! Take to Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, whatever your little heart desires. Grab the widget (as seen in my sidebar) from Epic Reads and smack that baby on your blog!

We have power here! We can speak up! I mean, they’re trying to ban JOHN GREEN for goodness sake. That’s not cool. That crosses the line. That makes this personal.

Top Ten Most Challenged Books of 2012 here.

Banned Books that have Shaped America here.

Epic Reads Banned Books article and Widget here. 

If you’re reading this, you’re probably an Imaginist

In Jane Austen’s Emma, she uses the word “imaginist”, which is a term that she originally coined. Since, it has been mentioned in several literary works. Here’s the passage (as it relates to Frank Churchill saving Harriet Smith from the gypsies):

Such an adventure as this,—a fine young man and a lovely young woman thrown together in such a way, could hardly fail of suggesting certain ideas to the coldest heart and the steadiest brain. So Emma thought, at least. Could a linguist, could a grammarian, could even a mathematician have seen what she did, have witnessed their appearance together, and heard their history of it, without feeling that circumstances had been at work to make them peculiarly interesting to each other?—How much more must an imaginist, like herself, be on fire with speculation and foresight!—especially with such a ground-work of anticipation as her mind had already made. -Emma, Volume III, Chapter II

I can’t tell you how much I love this word. I love that Jane Austen created it. I love that Emma thinks herself one. I love what it means: ‘a person given to imaginative flights.’ I love that she uses it to imagine two people in love.

I think all readers and lovers of fiction in any medium are imaginists. Why else would we care about made up stories? We learn from them and can imagine ourselves in those stories and pretend that our lives are cooler than they actually are (unless you already have a super cool life and don’t need to pretend…if that’s the case for you, then why are you wasting your time reading this???).

I fell in love with Jane Austen and Emma all over again at that point in the book. I love what Jane Austen stood for: hope, love, wit, family and friendship. I love what Emma stood for, which is truly the same.

It was a pleasure reading Emma and I think it wins as my favorite Austen novel so far (beating out Pride and Prejudice…yikes!). I’ll be putting a full review/reflection of the book up in the coming days, but I just wanted to leave you with this tidbit to guide you through the weekend.

Carry forth with your beautiful imaginations, you beautiful imaginists.

“Lily and Taylor” by Elise Moser

From Goodreads:

After her older sister is murdered in a horrific incident of domestic abuse, Taylor begins a new life in a new town. She meets Lily, whose open, warm manner conceals a difficult personal life 17318631of her own, coping with her brain-injured mother. The two girls embark on a tentative friendship. But just when life seems to be smoothing out, Taylor’s abusive boyfriend, Devon, arrives on the scene, and before they know it, the girls find themselves in a situation that is both scary, and incredibly dangerous.

Abetted by Conor, a friend who owes him a favor, Devon takes the girls to a remote cabin. There is no heat, no food, no water. There is a hunting rifle, which Devon uses to intimidate the others. As he becomes increasingly agitated, and Conor threatens to bail, the girls engage in a silent battle of their own. Lily wants to escape, while Taylor feels hopelessly trapped by her relationship with Devon and uses sex and flattery to try to keep the situation calm. The cabin becomes a pressure cooker, filled with tension as the four teenagers wrestle with their anger, fear, resentment and boredom — any one of which could tip the situation into disaster.

From the opening moments when Taylor witnesses her sister’s autopsy to the final cathartic scene after the two girls have survived their ordeal, the reader is glued to every page of this frank, gripping and beautifully written novel that raises questions for every teenager. Do you need to be a certain way to get a boyfriend? Can someone who loves you also hurt you? How can a million small compromises eat away at who you are? What happens when you don’t think you deserve to be treated well? How do you end up in an abusive relationship, and what keeps you there? 

Elise Moser goes deeply into the hearts and minds of Lily and Taylor, who in the end save each other in unexpected ways.

Rating: Writing- 8 out of 10 Plot- 4 out of 10

First Impressions: Only read this if you like overly emotional drama.

Review:

I put two separate ratings for this book because the writing was great and profound, but I really didn’t like the plot or any of the characters (except maybe Taylor’s nephew, Mason). It’s a story about domestic and sexual abuse. Taylor’s sister is with this man who physically harms her constantly, and one day he ends up murdering her. Taylor has to identify her sister’s body and it’s a real mess.

Cut to Taylor and Mason leaving their home and moving towns to live with their grandmother. This is when we find out that Taylor also has an abusive boyfriend, who threatens to beat her if she finds any new friends at her new school. When she finally does make a great new friend, he kidnaps them both, beats them up and takes them to a cabin in the middle of nowhere that has no water or electricity. And she still thinks to herself that, in his relaxed moments, she loves him.

I don’t want to sound insensitive, because I know domestic violence is a plague (Moser also included statistics in the author’s note), but I was really angry with Taylor. Her sister died from domestic violence and she found herself in the same situation and didn’t do anything about it. She had people who would have helped her and she had the opportunity to do it. She moved away and I really think that separation gave her the perfect chance to get help, but she never tried. I know it’s not as simple as that and that there are a lot of emotional conflicts and confusions when this happens. I would have liked to have a bit more hope. I shared this feeling with the other main character, Lily, who was angry with Taylor every time she obeyed her boyfriend. She understood why Taylor was so submissive and that she was just trying to be safe, but she also wanted her to be courageous and stand up for herself.

What I loved about this book was the beautiful language. Moser’s observations of love and friendship and family were stirring and deep and a rare find in modern literature.

If you want to read a book with great language and this doesn’t sound like a plot that would bug you, this novel is a great choice.

(I received this ARC a while ago, but it was the beginning of the school year and I was swamped! Sorry for the delay!)

Update!

I’m well into my junior year of classes and it is going to be a rough semester, hence the complete lack of blogging! I have a couple reviews coming up (hopefully within the next few weeks).

I’m taking this one English class about the Victorian novel and it’s really great! We’re reading a bunch of great books and so I had an idea. Because of my crazy schedule and my lack of free reading time, I think I’m going to post reviews of these books on my blog. Not to determine whether or not they are good-clearly they are-but to explain what my thoughts are on them. This is probably more for me than anyone else, but whateva.

First up, is Emma by Jane Austen can you believe it. So fitting.