Happy Banned Books Week! Since 1982, the American Library Association has celebrated our freedom to read by calling attention to the books that are most frequently banned in the United States. This year's BBW runs from September 25-October 2.
Here's a bit more on the purpose of BBW, from the ALA website:
Intellectual freedom—the freedom to access information and express ideas, even if the information and ideas might be considered unorthodox or unpopular—provides the foundation for Banned Books Week. BBW stresses the importance of ensuring the availability of unorthodox or unpopular viewpoints for all who wish to read and access them.
See this list for BBW library events around the country.
Also, Judy Blume—a personal favorite author of mine, and no stranger to censorship—maintains a great website on why books are challenged and why it's important to speak up for intellectual freedom.
Have any of your favorite books been challenged? (Hello, Harry Potter!)
For some reason (short attention span?) I've been reading tweets more than blog posts this week. So in addition to highlighting posts, here are a few follow-worthy hashtags:
#SIBA10 -- for dispatches from the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance trade show
#NBF -- for dispatches from the National Book Festival
#FridayReads -- for notes on what people are reading today
#PunctuationDay -- for notes on National Punctuation Day
What hashtags are you following?
September is National Library Card Sign-Up Month!
Posted by the blog of the New York Public Library
Did you know that September is National Library Card Sign-Up Month? I know I'm probably preaching to the choir, but if you need any reasons to get a library card, check out this list of "52 Way to Use Your Library Card" from the ALA.
Why do you love your library card? (Access to thousands of free books—duh!)
Q&A with Emma Donoghue
Posted by Jennifer Weiner
Ever since BookPage ran an interview with Emma Donoghue—and Donoghue wrote a behind-the-book essay for our website—I have been itching to read Room. This Q&A on author Jennifer Weiner's blog makes me even more eager to run out and buy a copy of this Man Booker-shortlisted novel.
In this Q&A, I was especially interested to read Donoghue's reasons for having a 5-year-old breast feed in her novel (some critics have expressed discomfort with this aspect of the plot). Also, the author revealed that her next book will be about "1870s San Francisco lowlifes."
What blog posts did you enjoy this week?
Also on The Book Case: Browse posts from our "Best of the Blogs" series.
Today is the 7th annual National Punctuation Day.
According to a column in the Seattle Times, the day was founded in 2004 as "a celebration of the lowly comma, correctly used quotation marks, and other proper uses of periods, semicolons, and the ever-mysterious ellipsis."
How are you going to celebrate? By pointing out grammatical errors on street signs? Revisiting ole Strunk & White? How about reading what is surely the liveliest book on punctuation published in recent years, Lynne Tuss's Eats, Shoots & Leaves?
When this book came out in the United States in 2004, BookPage editor Lynn Green described it as "funny and self-deprecating but always serious" about encouraging the proper use of punctuation. "Truss is a stern commander in the war on careless writing. Weary editors, schoolteachers and fellow sticklers everywhere will wish her victory in this much-needed battle."
I would also recommend you read The New Yorker's less glowing (but amusing) review, which points out Truss's punctuation mistakes and includes the line: " 'I am not a grammarian,' Truss says. No quarrel there."
Also, read this blog post (I linked to it a few months back) about writing a love letter to your favorite punctuation mark.
What is your favorite punctuation mark?
In case you missed it yesterday–a second trailer for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I has been released. The movies just keep getting better; does this new glimpse have you looking forward to November 19?
Today the Guardian posted a provocative essay by Imogen Williams about "how the Brontës divide humanity"–claiming that people love either Jane Eyre or Wuthering Heights, but not both. As Williams puts it:
If you want to be particularly contentious, you can divide those who satisfy the basic entry criteria into two types – those drawn to demure, bookish Miss Eyre and those for whom the pyrotechnical hanky-panky between Cathy Earnshaw and black-browed Heathcliff is paramount – and call them Librarians and Rock Stars.
The article is quite amusing, but as someone who admires both books, I'll have to be counted among the exceptions who prove her rule—although if I had to choose between the two, I'd take Jane Eyre. (So perhaps, in Williams' scheme of things, that makes me a Librarian with Rock Star leanings?) But if we're talking fave Brontë novel, the winner would be The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, by neglected third sister Anne. Which gives me a great excuse to post one of my favorite literary comics of all time, from the fantastic Canadian cartoonist K. Beaton:
Which Brontë classic is your favorite? Do you agree or disagree with Williams' thesis? And why can't Anne Brontë get any love?
This novel takes place 10 years after the classic Sweet Valley High series ended. Per the description from St. Martin's Press:
Iconic and beloved identical twins Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield are back and all grown up, dealing with the complicated adult world of love, careers, betrayal, and sisterhood.
Daytime Confidential interviewed SVH creator Francine Pascal for any hints—will Lila, Todd and the rest of the Sweet Valley gang be back?—but all the author would say is: "Think March 29th. That's when all will be revealed. All the main characters are back and waiting to be rediscovered as adults." (Pascal also mentioned that she's signed on as a consultant for Diablo Cody's Sweet Valley movie adaptation.)
What do you hope will happen in Sweet Valley Confidential?
Edward Conlon, author of best-selling memoir Blue Blood, will make his fiction debut this spring with Red on Red.
Blue Blood was an account of everyday copdom—"a fascinating and frightening world that is never far from our own doorstep."
Red on Red is the fictional story of two NYPD detectives with "radically different approaches to life and work":
One is drawn to cases of rough and ordinary urban combat; the other is compelled by uncanny "ghost stories," suicides, and missing persons.
Memoirs are extra-exciting because they're based on real events. But can Conlon deliver as a fiction writer? We'll have to wait until April to find out.
We can't get enough of the delicious recipes from our Cookbook of the Month, Melissa Clark's In the Kitchen with a Good Appetite (Hyperion). Clark's family version of this traditional Eastern European dish makes a tasty and comforting addition to any table.
1. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
2. Fit a food processor with a medium grating blade. With the motor running, alternate pushing the potato and onion chunks through the feed tube. Transfer the mixture to a dish towel–lined colander. Wrap the mixture in the towel and squeeze out as much excess liquid as possible.
3. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, flour, 1/4 cup oil, salt, pepper, rosemary, and garlic.
4. Heat 1 tablespoon of the remaining oil in a 9-inch, slope-sided skillet. Add the shallots in a single layer over high heat. Let sit several minutes before stirring. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the shallots are crispy and dark brown, about 7 minutes total.
5. Fold the potato mixture and shallots in the egg mixture. Return the skillet to high heat and add the remaining 3 tablespoons oil. Tilt the skillet to grease the bottom and sides of the pan. Carefully press the potato mixture into the pan. Cook over high heat for 3 minutes (this will help sear the bottom crust of the kugel). Transfer the pan to the oven and bake until the potatoes are tender and the top of the kugel is golden brown, 1 to 1 1/4 hours.
6. Place the kugel under the broiler for 1 to 2 minutes to form a crisp crust on top (watch carefully to see that it does not burn). Run an offset spatula around the edges and bottom of the kugel and carefullyinvert it onto a large plate or platter. Sprinkle with salt and serve.
Recipe from IN THE KITCHEN WITH A GOOD APPETITE by Melissa Clark, published September 7, 2010 by Hyperion. Copyright © 2010. All Rights Reserved. Available wherever books are sold.
Did you know that today is the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival?
This holiday falls on the 15th day of the eighth month in the Chinese calendar. It is a time to celebrate the end of the harvesting season, gather to watch the moon with family and friends, eat mooncakes—and read Thanking the Moon: Celebrating the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival, a lovely new picture book by Newbery Honoree Grace Lin.
I thought this would be a perfect time to direct you to Lin's blog, gracenotes, if you're not aware of it already. In the past week alone, the author/illustrator has posted moon poetry, a recipe for Chinese Tea Eggs and instructions on how to make a bunny lantern. This is a great resource for parents and teachers.
Are you celebrating the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival? Also, do you (or your children/grandchildren/students) have a favorite book by Lin?
I think I'll have "Man! I Feel Like a Woman!" stuck in my head all day.
Shania Twain is publishing an autobiography with Atria, to be published in spring 2011. Here's a quote from Twain:
There have been moments in my life I was concerned by the reality that tomorrow would never come . . . Recently I experienced one of those moments to an intensity that brought on a sudden urgency to document my life before I ran out of time, before I had the opportunity to share an honest and complete account of my life, in my own words.
Are you interested in Twain's story?