Great American Read – Part 2

We’re about halfway to finding out which book will be named America’s favorite by PBS in the Great American Read. I don’t know about you, but I have been inspired to check more books off this list in the past couple of months. Rather than just reading them on my own, I asked my mother if she would like to have our own little book club for two. I thought it would be a great bonding experience and give us something fun to talk about on our weekly phone calls. We decided to take turns picking books neither of us had read yet and allow two weeks to read it, discussing it both at the halfway point and again when we finished. Mom likes listening to them on audio, and I tend to read the print version.

We started with Mom’s choice: Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift. She had seen the 2010 movie starring Jack Black, but hadn’t read the book. I had neither seen the movie or read the book, although I did recall possibly seeing bits and pieces of the 1996 TV miniseries starring Ted Danson. I love how this book helped me see what a sense of humor my mother has.  This book gave us plenty of laughs (admittedly, we’re a little warped). At one point the main character is on an island inhabited by tiny people. A fire breaks out in the wing of the tiny royal castle where the princess resides. Giant-size Gulliver “helps” by urinating on the fire. He was disappointed that his “help” wasn’t as appreciated as much as he thought it should be. On the whole, I think Swift meant for it to be more of a political satire than a comedy. However, it is clear he had a sense of humor. Although written almost 300 years ago, much of the subtext is still relatable today. I think that is a mark of a truly great novel.

When we finished with that, I chose for us to read Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan. It was an apt one for me to discuss with my mother, because it is centered around mother-daughter relationships: specifically, four Asian mothers living in San Francisco and their their American-born daughters.  I was also planning a family vacation to San Francisco, so I wanted to read as many books set there as I could before going. The book’s themes center around family, culture, and class and how these things shaped the experiences of these eight particular Asian women. I would recommend reading this if you have not already. I also checked out Joy Luck Club on DVD and watched the movie on my own, which I enjoyed.

The third book we read was an Agatha Christie novel. The Christie novel on the Great American Read list is And Then There Were None, but somehow Mom and I got it in our heads that it was Murder on the Orient Express. Maybe it was because I have a tendency to get excited when I can read a book and then watch the movie made based on that book, and I knew that the Murder on the Orient Express movie had just been made in 2017. (I have since learned that there are also movies based on And Then There Were None.) So we read Murder on the Orient Express, then watched the movie together. We both found it to be a quick read. We also loved the unexpected ending. The movie was a little different than the book (as most movies based on books tend to be) but overall true to the story in an enjoyable way. The movie boasts an all-star cast including Judi Dench, Johnny Depp, Penelope Cruz, Willem Dafoe, Michelle Pfeiffer, Josh Gad and Daisy Ridley. But enough about that one. It’s not even on the list.

I think we are going to read the Vonnegut novel next. I better double-check the list to make sure we get the right one!

In my last blog post, I asked readers to comment with their favorite book from the list. I also set up a display at each of our three locations with a voting box. When the Great American Read announces America’s favorite book in late October, I will tally our local votes and announce Davenport’s favorite. If you haven’t voted yet please do so by either commenting on this blog post or writing your favorite title from the Great American Read list on a slip of paper and leaving it for us in the turquoise box at one of our locations.

The Great American Read

What is your favorite book of all time? If a cross-section of Americans voted on their favorite book and made a list of the top 100, would your favorite make the list? Time to find out!

PBS has launched a program called The Great American Read which producers say is “designed to spark a national conversation about reading and the books that have inspired, moved, and shaped us.”  The first of eight episodes aired on May 22, 2018.  It featured some famous people like George R.R. Martin, Neil DeGrasse Tyson, Venus Williams, Wil Wheaton, Chelsea Clinton, and Jenna Bush Hager and Barbara Bush sharing what they love about their personal favorites – The Lord of the Rings, Gulliver’s Travels, The Chronicles of Narnia, Dune, Where the Red Fern Grows and The Book Thief,respectively. If you missed it – don’t worry. You can watch it here.

The final episode is scheduled to air some time in October 2018, according to the show’s official website. Until that time, Americans are encouraged to go online and vote for their favorite book. One vote per day is allowed.

If you are curious about how many books from the list you’ve read, download the checklist and start counting! (I’m at 23 so far.) My personal favorite is To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. I first read it in 9th grade English class and have loved it ever since. If you, like me, are eager to check more titles off that list, be sure to look for the displays we have at each of our three locations where you can easily find and check one out.

As the show’s host Meredith Viera says, “The Great American Read is happening all across the country, all summer long. So invite your friends to share in the celebration!” I urge you to post a comment to tell us which book is your favorite of all time. We at the library are curious to see how QCA voters will compare to the nation as a whole when the book with the most votes is revealed later this fall!

Banned Books Week: September 27 – October 3

Banned Books Week

 

What are Banned Books? Books that have been removed from schools or libraries.

Why are books banned? The top three reasons for banned books are as follows:

1. The material was considered to be “sexually explicit.”

2. The material contained “offensive language.”

3. The material was “unsuited for any age group.”

Why do we have Banned Books Week? Founded in 1982 and celebrated annually during the last week in September, it is an awareness campaign for the Freedom to Read.

How can you participate in Banned Books Week?

Many local libraries will be participating in Banned Books Week by either holding programs or creating displays. The Bettendorf Public Library will be hosting Banned Song Fest on Monday, September 28 at 6:30 pm. Local musicians will preform banned songs and music styles in honor of Banned Books Week. At the Rock Island Public Library local librarians and writers will read from banned books on Tuesday, September 29 at 6:00 pm. The Davenport Public Library will have displays at each location where you can learn about and check out a variety of banned books.

Banned Books

The top ten challenged books of 2014

The 100 most banned/challenged books from 2000-2009

 

the absolutely true diary The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian is currently ranked number 1 for the most challenged books of 2014 according to The American Library Association. While this book is considered YA fiction, it is based on the real life events of Native American Author Sherman Alexie. I read this book while attending graduate school as part of a multicultural literature course.  The book is about Arnold, an incredibly smart Native American boy living on a reservation. He is given the opportunity to attend an all white school outside of the reservation. This book highlights not only some of the struggles of Native Americans living on reservations, but dives deep into what it took for this character to break away from his life on the reservation. When I finished reading the book I immediately researched the author. It was shocking to read that this work is semi-autobiographical, but still all the more important that this book remain on shelves. Anyone should have the opportunity to read this book. Why is the book challenged/banned? The book contains themes and elements of alcohol abuse, sex, violence, bullying, and racial issues.
go ask aliceGo Ask Alice was published in 1971 and for many years was thought to be the anonymous diary of a troubled teenager that became addicted to drugs. It was later revealed to have been written by Beatrice Sparks, a psychologist, only partially based on one of her patient’s diaries. Since this revelation, the book is considered a work of fiction. I read this books several years ago as I was making my way through a list of top 100 books that everyone should read. While the book does tend to be over the top in certain circumstances, it does include so much of the feelings and thoughts experienced by young women. Why is this book challenged/banned? Despite being published over 40 years ago, the book has never been out of print and still remains high up in the list of challenged/banned books. The book contains drug use, sex, and offensive language.

 

 

LGTBQ Literature

rainbow
“Every Book” by Aspen May

In the past, LGTBQ voices were relegated to the fringes of society – invisible, ignored and often met with violence. In 1976, Jonathan Ned Katz endeavored to collect the stories and documents from 1566 to his present time.  Gay American History: Lesbians and Gay Men in the U.S.A was, at the time, a radical publication, unearthing documents that had not seen the light of day in centuries.  It also gave voice to the rising gay right movement during the 1960-70s.

While the political and social culture of the U.S. has changed dramatically since 1976, it can still be difficult for LGBTQ authors, filmmakers or artists to join the mainstream, and those seeking LGBTQ works often times find themselves frustrated. The growth of the Internet has made access easier, but LGTBQ voices are still considered underrepresented in the mainstream.

The American Library Association created the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Round Table (GLBTRT) in an effort to make finding LGTBQ  information and literature easier and to advocate for greater visibility in libraries across the U.S.. GLBTRT also established the annual Stonewall Book Award for books of exceptional merit relating to the LGBTQ community. And, of course, many blogs and websites have been created to collect and distribute LGTBQ books, films, music and art.

Below are a handful of websites where you can find reviews and news about LGBTQ media. If you’d like to see what DPL and the surrounding RiverShare libraries have, click over to this LibGuide : http://libguides.davenportlibrary.com/LGBTQ

Award Lists:

ALA’s Rainbow Book List for 2015

Stonewall Book Awards

GLAAD Media Awards

Green Carnation Prize (UK)

Reviews

Over the Rainbow Books – Monthly bibliographies of notable LGBTQ books

GLBT Reviews – Book and media reviews from ALA’s Gay Lesbian Bisexual Transgender Round Table

Band of Thebes (on hiatus)

Lambda Literary

I’m Here, I’m Queer, What the Hell do I Read?

Children’s Book Council’s Diversity Committee’s “Great Diversity Blog”

Abe Books – Celebrating Pride in Literature

Flavorwire’s 50 Essential Works of LGBT Fiction

Huffington Post LGBT Literature (keyword news feed)
_____

Sources:

Mitchell, Mark. Pages Passed from Hand to Hand: The Hidden Tradition of Homosexual Literature in English from 1748 to 1914. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1997. Print.

LGBT Literature: Gay American History: Lesbians and Gay Men in the U.S.A.” Daily Kos. Kos Media, LLC, 25 Feb. 2014. Web. 6 June 2015.

June is LGBT Pride Month

The six-colour version of the pride flag is the most commonly used version. The original version from 1978 had two additional stripes — hot pink and turquoise which were removed due to manufacturing needs. Via Wikimedia Commons.
The six-color version of the pride flag is the most commonly used version. The original version from 1978 had two additional stripes — hot pink and turquoise which were removed due to manufacturing needs. Via Wikimedia Commons.

In honor of LGBT Pride Month, we are featuring films, novels and media created by and for the LGBTQ** community on this blog. We’ll also have an ongoing display of these materials at the DPL’s Main branch.

First, a little history …

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month  is currently celebrated each year in the month of June to honor the 1969 Stonewall riots in Manhattan, New York City. The Stonewall riots  – occurring over the weekend of June 27-29, 1969 – were a tipping point for the Gay Liberation Movement in the United States. While protests for LGBTQ rights had occurred prior to the Stonewall riots, many considered the riots as a “shot heard round the world,”* the first to garner large-scale media attention for a population that had, prior to then, been forced to live in secret.

156px-Stonewall_Inn_1969
Stonewall Inn, site of the 1969 Stonewall riots, New York City, USA, Via Wikimedia Commons.

Christopher Street Liberation Day on June 28, 1970 marked the first anniversary of the Stonewall riots with an assembly on Christopher Street (where the Stonewall Inn was located); with simultaneous Gay Pride marches in Los Angeles and Chicago, marking the first Gay Pride marches in U.S. history.  Since then, Gay Pride marches have occurred annually in major cities across the U.S.  to recognize the impact that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals have had on history locally, nationally, and internationally.

On June 2, 2000 President Bill Clinton declared June “Gay & Lesbian Pride Month”.  On June 1, 2009, President Barack Obama declared June 2009 Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month, citing the riots as a reason to “…commit to achieving equal justice under law for LGBT Americans.” Read President Obama’s  2015 declaration here.

If you’d like to learn more, the Library of Congress hosts many historical documents, photos and recordings about LGBTQ Pride month, as well as the history of the LGBTQ movement in the United States. Check it out here: http://www.loc.gov/lgbt/

National Public Radio’s StoryCorps produced the documentary “Remembering Stonewall” on the 20th anniversary of the riots. You can listen it here: http://storycorps.org/remembering-stonewall/, as well as explore other stories from their OutLoud initiative, founded to preserve LGBTQ  voices and stories across the U.S. On the 40th anniversary of the riots, NPR’ Margo Adler produced another retrospective, “Years Later, Stonewall Riots Remembered”

Check back here next week for a look at LGBTQ literature for all ages!

___

*Faderman, Lillian (1991). Odd Girls and Twilight Lovers: A History of Lesbian Life in Twentieth Century America, Penguin Books. ISBN 0-14-017122-3

**A note on terminology: The acronym LGTB and LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer/Questioning) are both used in the official Presidential declaration. According to the GLAAD and The New York Times style guidelines, LGBT is the preferred term, based on universal acceptance and recognition. However, I’ve chosen to use LGBTQ throughout, except when citing a direct quotation, or using the name of a specific organization or event.

Women’s History Month

February was Black History Month, but  March marks the transition into Women’s History Month.  If you didn’t catch our displays last month, stop by and see what’s new. 

One book in particular that serves as the perfect segue from one theme to the other is Sister Days by Janus Adams.  Subtitled “365 Inspired Moments in African American Women’s History,” the book is written in diary style, with short anecdotes for every day of the year.  For example, Philippa Schuyler, who was declared a prodigy at age 3, is featured on July 29th, while Era Bell Thompson, who was inducted into the Iowa Hall of Fame, is the woman of the day on April 30th.   Personally, I had not heard about either of these remarkable individuals! 

Another book that’s received a  lot of press lately is the Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot.  It’s a true story of a poor woman who died of cervical cancer.  Before her death in 1951, a sample of her cancerous tissue was taken, but without her knowledge or consent.  Her cells, known as HeLa cells, not only survived in the lab, but thrived, providing scientists with a building block for many medical breakthroughs, starting with the cure for polio.

This is just a small sampling of a wide variety of materials celebrating women of achievement throughout the years.  Come check some out!

If You Like Sherlock Holmes…

We have a display for you! At both Main Street and Fairmount Street libraries, we have mysteries and DVDs of Sherlock Holmes spinoffs.

The Beekeeper’s Apprentice by Laurie King  is the first in a series featuring a feminist Mary Russell. A teenager at the time, she meets the great Holmes  while she is wandering the Sussex countryside. Holmes mentors Mary as they investigate the kidnapping of an American senator’s daughter. The World WarI era , an Oxford setting – where Mary is a student, and the evolving relationship in which Holmes mentors his young protegee are all strong points of the novel.

The Italian Secretary by Caleb Carr is a humorous paranormal twist on the Holmes canon. The setting is a ghostly Holyrood Palace in Edinburgh,Scotland. Watson and Holmes are called in by Sherlock’s brother to investigate murders that Mycroft fears may threaten Queen Victoria. The author of The Alienist “reflects a deep knowledge and understanding of Holmesiana.” Publisher’s Weekly

Red, White & Blue

Independence Day is coming and we have materials to help you celebrate!

fourth of julyred white blue murderred white muslim

If you haven’t already read James Patterson’s book, 4th of July, this is the perfect time to do so.  For those of you already familiar with Patterson’s story lines or characters, this is part of his Women’s Murder Club series and features San Francisco police lieutenant Lindsay Boxer.  (Perhaps you’ve even caught some  of the TV crime shows with Boxer as the main character, as played by Angie Harmon.)

Another appropriate title is Red, White & Blue Murder by Bill Crider.   This is the thirteenth novel in the Sheriff Dan Rhodes mystery series, in which Rhodes is presented as a likeable Texan lawman.  His character is wry and warmhearted, in a humorous,  down-home and folksy way.

If you’re looking for something a little more serious, try Red, White , and Muslim: My Story of Belief by Asma Gull Hasan.  Described on the back cover as “a warm, witty, wonderful story about what it means to be both Muslim and American in a post 9/11 world, ” this should be an enlightening and educational read for those of us less familiar with the Muslim faith.

Enjoy your 4th of July holiday!

Red, White & Blue

Independence Day is coming and we have materials to help you celebrate!

fourth of julyred white blue murderred white muslim

If you haven’t already read James Patterson’s book, 4th of July, this is the perfect time to do so.  For those of you already familiar with Patterson’s story lines or characters, this is part of his Women’s Murder Club series and features San Francisco police lieutenant Lindsay Boxer.  (Perhaps you’ve even caught some  of the TV crime shows with Boxer as the main character, as played by Angie Harmon.)

Another appropriate title is Red, White & Blue Murder by Bill Crider.   This is the thirteenth novel in the Sheriff Dan Rhodes mystery series, in which Rhodes is presented as a likeable Texan lawman.  His character is wry and warmhearted, in a humorous,  down-home and folksy way.

If you’re looking for something a little more serious, try Red, White , and Muslim: My Story of Belief by Asma Gull Hasan.  Described on the back cover as “a warm, witty, wonderful story about what it means to be both Muslim and American in a post 9/11 world, ” this should be an enlightening and educational read for those of us less familiar with the Muslim faith.

Enjoy your 4th of July holiday!

Latino Books Month

latinoCinco de Mayo is only the beginning!  The entire month of May has been designated as Latino Books Month by the Association of American Publishers.  Simply put, it’s an effort to encourage people to read books by and for Latinos.  What’s great is that you can choose to read many titles in either English or Spanish.

If you read Spanish, you’ll be able to check out some books that, in English, never seem to be on the shelf!  For example,  Luna Nueva by Stephanie Meyer.

If you prefer Latino authors, try Carlos Ruiz Zafon and his El Juego del Angel or Para Salvar el Mundo by Julia Alvarez.  Can’t read Spanish?  No problem, we have the English versions of those titles as well.  Hint:  Look for The Angel’s Game and Saving the World.

Also, in the children’s section, we feature many bi-lingual editions as well as clever videos.  Did you know that exposing children to another language at a young age can really help their fluency in later years?   Why not give it a try?