Which books are banned?

The Kids’ Right to Read Project investigated three times the average number of book banning incidents last month, Shelf Awareness reports.

A  number of notable works by minority writers were challenged in the fall, including Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man, Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, Alice Walker’s The Color Purple, Sherman Alexie’s The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, Isabel Allende’s The House of the Spirits and Rudolfo Anaya’s Bless Me, Ultima.

Banned booksWhether or not patterns like this are the result of coordination between would-be censors across the country is impossible to say,” said coordinator Acacia O’Connor. “But there are moments, when a half-dozen or so challenges regarding race or LGBT content hit within a couple weeks, where you just have to ask, ‘What is going on out there?’ “

The Kids’ Right to Read Project offers a poster of some of the most frequently heard myths about challenged and banned books.
 
Banned Books Myths

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The Greatest Gift

So, it’s nearly Christmas. What’s on your writer-friends’ lists:

There’s practical and useful stuff, sure – and then there’s the geekly gadgets that every writer with a background in a certain pool of tropes grins when (s)he sees, things that are utterly useless in any practical sense but tickle our sense of the awesome and the purely ridiculous – but …

Here’s a different and very doable wishlist.

This Christmas, if you are inclined to gift giving, give your favorite writer… A Reader.

Tell a friend about your favorite writer’s work and suggest they buy a book. Or two. Buy your favorite writer’s books as presents for your friends yourself. Write a nice review somewhere – on Amazon, on Goodreads, on your own blog, somewhere. SPREAD THE WORD.

If you like what you’ve read from me, give me another reader this Christmas. Go tell a friend. Tell that friend to tell their friends, if they agree that there was something in my books worth discovering. (And if you’ve already done this, bless you.)

I realize I am asking for something that is potentially enormous – I am asking for a gift that is intangible, that can’t be wrapped, that won’t be squealed over on Christmas morning as the ribbons are ripped from packages – but at the same time I am asking for a simple thing that it is yours to bestow. Spread the word. If you succeed in this, drop me a line and tell me about it – or get that friend to – and it’s a Christmas present that will keep on giving all year round.

To all the readers I’ve already got – thank you for coming along with me on this journey. You are ALL appreciated.

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What? You thought self publishing was a modern phenomenon?

On December 16, 1901, a 35-year-old writer and illustrator printed 250 copies of her first book, featuring a naughty rabbit. Beatrix Potter decided to take control of her own future after getting fed up of receiving rejection letters from publishers for a story she had made up to entertain a sick child.

Peter RabbitThe Tale of Peter Rabbit was printed with 41 black and white woodblock engravings and a colour frontispiece, Claire Armitstead writes in The Guardian, and proved so successful that, within a year, it had been picked up by one of the six publishers who had originally turned it down. By Christmas of 1902, Frederick Warne had sold 20,000 copies of the book, with Potter’s own watercolor illustrations.

The Tale of Peter Rabbit

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10 of the Greatest Essays on Writing Ever Written

If there’s one topic that writers can be counted on to tackle at least once in their working lives, it’s writing itself, Emily Temple says at Flavorwire.

A good thing too, especially for all those aspiring writers out there looking for a little bit of guidance. For some winter inspiration and honing of your craft, here you’ll find ten great essays on writing, from the classic to the contemporary, from the specific to the all-encompassing. For example:

Barthelme“Not-Knowing,” Donald Barthelme, from Not Knowing: the Essays and Interviews of Donald Barthelme

In which Barthelme, a personal favorite and king of strange and wonderful stories, muses on not-knowing, style, our ability to “quarrel with the world, constructively,” messiness, Mallarmé, and a thief named Zeno passed out wearing a chastity belt.

“The not-knowing is crucial to art, is what permits art to be made. Without the scanning process engendered by not-knowing, without the possibility of having the mind move in unanticipated directions, there would be no invention.”

Essays on writing

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How to Write — A Year in Advice  

“This year, I talked to nearly 50 different writers for the By Heart series, a weekly column about beloved quotes and cherished lines,” Joe Fassler says at The Atlantic.

Their contributions were eclectic and intensely personal: Jim Crace, whose novel Harvest was a finalist for the Man Booker prize this year, shared a folk rhyme from his childhood, the investigative New York Times journalist Michael Moss (Salt, Sugar, Fat) close-read the Frito-Lay slogan, and This American Life host Ira Glass eulogized a longtime friend and collaborator. Though I began by asking each writer the same question—what line is most important to you?—their responses contained no formula.

HosseiniElena Seibert
Khaled Hosseini, author of The Kite Runner and this year’s And the Mountains Echoed, reminded us that we can only approximate the book we want to write—the final product will never capture the excitement of initial inspiration.

Interviews with writers

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Quote of the Day

Anyone who still believes print is dead never worked in an indie bookstore the week before Christmas. Seriously.” ~ Facebook post from Changing Hands Bookstore, Tempe, Ariz.
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Alma Alexander

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