Monday Miscellany

Why is dystopia so appealing to young adults?

A dystopia is an imaginary world in which people live dehumanized lives of fear and subjugation; it’s the opposite of utopia. In this piece YA writer Moira Young examines why distopian novels such as Suzanne Collins’s recent Hunger Games trilogy are so popular with young people:

Books for young people set in a post-apocalyptic or dystopian worlds are not new. Three notable early examples are Madeleine L’Engle’s science fantasy A Wrinkle in Time (1962), William Sleator’s suspense novel House of Stairs (1974) and the politically intriguing The Giver (1993) by Lois Lowry. Some of the big names of the new wave, along with Collins, are British-based American author Patrick Ness, Mortal Engines writer Philip Reeve, and young adult science-fiction novelist Scott Westerfeld. But what is it that attracts teenage readers to dystopian fiction?

Her answer?

Teenagers like to read dystopian fiction because it’s exciting. It all comes down to the story. The story comes first, and the setting – extraordinary though it may be – is of secondary importance.

For the most part, dystopian fiction owes more to myth and fairytale than science fiction. These are essentially heroes’ journeys – they just happen to be set in an imagined future world. The hero, reluctant or willing, is just as likely to be female as male. Something happens – an event, or a messenger arrives bearing news – and the teenage protagonist is catapulted out of their normal existence into the unknown. They cross the threshold into a world of darkness and danger, of allies and enemies, and begin a journey towards their own destiny that will change their world. They will be tested, often to the very edge of death. The stakes are high. The adults are the oppressors. The children are the liberators. It’s heady stuff, far removed from the routine of everyday life.

The outer, global journey of the characters is matched by an inner, emotional and psychological journey. These are no cartoon superheroes. They, like their teen readers, have to deal with recognisable concerns and problems, including friendship, family, betrayal, loss, love, death and sexual awakening.

And in defense of adults who write these stories for adolescents Young says:

These are dark, sometimes bleak stories, but that doesn’t mean they are hopeless. Those of us who write for young people are reluctant to leave our readers without hope. It wouldn’t be right. We always leave a candle burning in the darkness.

And we write good stories. That’s why teenagers read them.

Any successful novel has to be, at its heart, a good story. That what makes books such as George Orwell’s 1984 and Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale so appealing to both young people and adults. We have an innate affinity for stories, which is why children beg for “just one more” bedtime story. And this same natural response to stories allows young adults to recognize the representative nature of these tales instead of being overwhelmed by their darkness. No matter what age we are, we all learn from these stories. That is the beauty and the power of narrative.

Why Should The Reader Care About Your Story?

And, from the other end of the pen, here’s more on story. Writer Jim Gilliam explains how a harsh critique from a novelist forced him to reread his novel in progress as the reader rather than as the writer. He asked himself, “As a reader why should I care about this?”

I write for my readers and if I’ve placed the reader in the scene with my protagonist and the reader feels the same things that he does, and the reader fears for his life, and vicariously for their own, then I have accomplished my ultimate goal and the reader has paid me the greatest compliment by staying with me until the end of the tale.

You can use this same criterion when you read a novel. If you find that the novel isn’t pulling you in, the reason often lies in the writer’s inability to put you inside the character’s mind and heart.

In praise of easy reads

This piece by John Self comes from the U. K. newspaper The Guardian, which is why the introduction deals with the recent kerfuffle over the Man Booker Prize. But if that means nothing to you, you can skip down a bit further, to Self’s discussion of readability, which “essentially means ‘not too hard going’.” A book with readability is “something that slips down effortlessly.”

And here’s Self’s recommendations of books that have readability as well as literary merit:

The Doctor’s Wife by Brian Moore
The Cry of the Owl by Patricia Highsmith
Journey into Fear by Eric Ambler
Trauma by Patrick McGrath

These Are the Greatest Geek Books of All Time, Readers Say published its own list of “9 Essential Geek Books You Must Read Right Now,” a link to which you’ll find at the beginning of this article. Here, readers have produced their own list:

  1. Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein
  2. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
  3. 1984 by George Orwell
  4. Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman! by Richard Feynman
  5. I, Robot by Isaac Asimov
  6. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick
  7. Cosmos by Carl Sagan
  8. Dune by Frank Herbert
  9. A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking

I don’t consider myself a geek by any means, so I was surprised to discover that I’ve read 5 of the books on this list. I really hated Stranger in a Strange Land, but I DID read it.


Monday Miscellany

Book lovers rake in the reading as publishers release fall titles

It’s time to trade in the beach reads for the usually longer and more serious fall reads. The Sacramento Bee‘s Allen Pierleoni lists upcoming new titles, some by big-name authors (think Joan Didion, Lee Child, Stephen King, Alice Hoffman, and Sue Grafton ) in both fiction and nonfiction.

Perfectly Flawed: In defense of unlikable characters

Lionel Shriver, author of, among other novels, We Need to Talk about Kevin, discusses the flawed main characters that she has often been reprimanded for creating. Shriver distinguishes her characters from both villains and anti-heroes: “flawed main characters, neither villains nor anti-heroes, [are main characters] whom the author has deliberately, even perversely contrived as hard to like.”

Most famously in my own work, Eva Khatchadourian, the narrator of We Need to Talk About Kevin, is hard to like: a woman whose world travels make her feel superior to her American compatriots, who experiences pregnancy as an infestation and, worst of all, who fails to love her own son.

Shriver argues that a character’s likeability comprises two components, moral approval and affection, and “Readers often get approval and affection confused.” She asks, ” do we always want to read about characters who conform to current political conventions—who don’t smoke, never say anything bigoted, and always recycle their yogurt pots?” Such “nice” characters would be easy for the writer to recreate, she says, but would we truly want to read about only these paragons?

Goodness is not only boring but downright annoying. In fiction and reality both, multilingual, loftily-educated ponces on missions to save the rainforest are probably pains in the bum. Thus, however readily I might construct exemplars who pick up litter and volunteer at soup kitchens, this cheap courting of your approval might well backfire. Despite my heavy-handed stacking of the moral deck, you wouldn’t like them. Nick Hornby made exactly this point in his delightful novel How To Be Good, in which the main character’s determination to be virtuous—he gives away the family assets and invites homeless people to live in the house—is delectably repellent.

Creating only nice characters is not an accurate representation of life:

Because in real life, people are not always perfectly charming. I try to duplicate in fiction the complex, contradictory, and infuriating people I meet on the other side of my study door. When fiction works, readers can develop the same nuanced, conflicted relationships to characters that they have to their own friends and family. I’m less concerned that you love my characters than that you recognise them. Human beings have rough edges. Authors who write exclusively about ethical, admirable, likeable characters are not writing about real people.

Her flawed main characters are interesting, Shriver says, and

readers want to be engaged even more than they want to be seduced. When purely affectionate and approving, a reader’s relationship to a character is flat. When positive feelings mix with censure and consternation, the relationship is dynamic. In fact, authorial elicitation of the reader’s frantic if impotent warning, “Oh, no, don’t do that!” is a powerful literary tool, for dismay generates energy and intensifies engagement. In Kevin, I made Eva’s husband Franklin deliberately exasperating—see-no-evil, he refuses to recognize his son’s growing malice—because this “What a dupe! Wake up, buddy!” reaction is involving and oddly enjoyable.

My own view is that liking or disliking a literary character is not the point; understanding the character is what’s important. When writers do their jobs well (as Shriver does in We Need to Talk about Kevin), we understand who the characters are and why they do what they do. At their root, all good stories require conflict, and conflict arises from characters who are less than perfect. Or, as Shriver puts it, “Good stories require mistakes.”

Rereading Women: Thirty Years of Exploring Our Literary Traditions 

Sandra Gilbert (both individually and with her collaborator Susan Gubar) has played a long and distinguished part in the rethinking of the teaching of English literature. The title of the first major Gilbert and Gubar collaboration, The Madwoman in the Attic, has become shorthand to indicate all those questions that once were not asked about fiction. Since that book’s publication in 1979, all kinds of silences have been broken as women have become central figures both as subjects and as critics in the academic study of literature.

Mary Evans discusses Rereading Women: Thirty Years of Exploring Our Literary Traditions:

Rereading Women is a collection of previously published essays dating from 1977 to 2008, with new material limited to an introductory essay that describes how Gilbert began her collaboration with Gubar and became a professional academic. It is written within the standard assumptions of second-wave feminism in which, to paraphrase, the people who lived in darkness (particularly the darkness of the US in the 1950s) saw a great light in the early 1970s.

Evans discusses Gilbert’s work in its relation to university curriculums, to what is chosen for study and how it is studied.

this collection has one very considerable merit: it situates the reader at the centre of the reading of literature. The work that Gilbert did, both in the classroom and the study, was essentially democratic: she wanted the people she was teaching to engage with literature and through it find not the voices of authoritative “great traditions”, but their own voices.

When she, and Gubar, introduced the idea of the woman locked away in an attic by people for whom her existence was inconvenient, they introduced an idea into the curriculum that encouraged the recognition of other forms and occasions of silencing.


Julian Barnes Wins the Man Booker Prize

Julian Barnes Wins the Man Booker Prize –

The novelist Julian Barnes won the Man Booker Prize on Tuesday night for “The Sense of an Ending,” a slim and meditative story of mortality, frustration and regret.

“The Sense of an Ending,” published in the United States by Knopf, part of Random House, is Mr. Barnes’s 11th novel, a 163-page book that has sometimes been called a novella for its size and simplicity.



Lauren Myracle withdraws from National Book Award finalists –

Lauren Myracle withdraws from National Book Award finalists –

This story is all over Twitter this morning. Here’s just one newspaper’s account of why this mess occurred. Apparently, the National Book Foundation doesn’t like the subject matter of Lauren Myracle’s novel Shine, which deals with a hate crime. In requesting the withdrawal of the book, the National Book Foundation has agreed to make a $5000 donation to the Matthew Shepard Foundation in the author’s name.

You can do the math.

Monday Miscellany

Vashon Great Books club one of oldest in U.S.

The Seattle Times spotlights 92-year-old Grace Crecelius:

For 61 years, Grace Crecelius has cracked the books. Not just any books, mind you, but the works of Plato, Descartes and Kant, Shakespeare, Marx and Freud.

At 92, Crecelius is the oldest member of what may be one of the longest-running book clubs around — the Vashon Island Great Books Foundation discussion group.

The Great Books Foundation was founded in 1947 by Mortimer Adler and Robert Maynard Hutchins. Its purpose is to help readers of all ages become more reflective and responsible thinkers by engaging with great works of literature. Since its beginning the Foundation has expanded its materials to serve students of all ages (K-12, college, and adults). While its original offerings focused on great works of thinkers such as Plato and Socrates, current materials include newer literary works such as contemporary novels and even science fiction. Its aim is to “make the reading and discussion of literature a lifelong source of enjoyment, personal growth, and social engagement.”

On the Great Books web site you can search for a group in your area. If there isn’t one, you can also find out how to start a group. The Foundation also offers instruction in how to practice civil discourse in discussion of the ideas presented in literature.

P.D. James writes Jane Austen sequel

P.D. James could hold back no longer.

The 91-year-old detective novelist said Wednesday she was glad to finally complete a long-desired project – a sequel to Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice.”

James’ “Death Comes to Pemberley” will be published by Faber & Faber in Britain in early November and by Alfred A. Knopf in the United states on Dec. 6.

Ms. Readers’ 100 Best Non-Fiction Books of All Time: The Top 10 and the Complete List!

Scholar, activist, provocateur, teacher, community-builder, inspiration: No one word can span the career of bell hooks or capture how much we love her work. According to Ms. readers’ selections of the best feminist non-fiction of all time, she’s your favorite writer, with three books in our top ten–including number one–and a total of seven books throughout the list. To judge by the final picks, issues of work, sex and intersectionality ranked highest among our reader’s feminist concerns.

And here are the top 10:

10. The Purity Myth: How America’s Obsession with Virginity is Hurting Young Women
by Jessica Valenti
Seal Press, 2009
Jessica Valenti combats a nation’s virginity complex, arguing that myths about “purity” are damaging to both girls and women. She points the way forward toward a world where women are perceived as more than vessels of chastity. 

9. Feminist Theory: From Margin to Center
by bell hooks
South End Press, 1985
Cementing her place as one of the most influential feminist theorists, hooks’ Feminist Theory explores Kimberle Crenshaw’s conversation-changing idea of intersectionality: the way racism, classism and sexism work together to foster oppression.

8. Ain’t I a Woman: Black Women and Feminism
by bell hooks
South End Press, 1999
Named after the famous speech by Sojourner Truth, this must-read by bell hooks discusses black women’s struggle with U.S. racism and sexism since the time of slavery and doesn’t shirk from how white middle- and upper-class feminists have at times failed poor and non-white women. 

7. Female Chauvinist Pigs: Women and the Rise of Raunch Culture
by Ariel Levy
Free Press, 2005
What do phenomena such as Girls Gone Wild say about feminism? This book looks at the ways women today make sex objects of themselves, and she’s not impressed. She chews out false “empowerment” based on self-objectification and offers feminist alternatives. 

6. Backlash: The Undeclared War Against American Women
by Susan Faludi
Crown, 1991
This landmark book sounded the alarm about a pervasive backlash against feminism. She painstakingly refutes each insidious anti-feminist argument–for instance, that feminism is responsible for a supposed epidemic of unhappiness in women. What’s really wrong, she says, is that equality hasn’t been achieved; in fact, the struggle has only just begun. 

5. Nickel and Dimed
by Barbara Ehrenreich
Metropolitan Books, 2001
Long-time Ms. columnist Barbara Ehrenreich posed undercover as a low-income worker to gain material for this empathetic portrait of how the bottom half lives. She reveals that simply making ends meet is a silent struggle for many Americans, especially for women with families to support.

4. A Room of One’s Own
by Virginia Woolf
Harcourt Brace, 1929
This classic from the 1920s makes a devastatingly eloquent argument with a simple takeaway: For a women artist to thrive, she must have space in which to work and some money for her efforts. 

3. Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches
by Audre Lorde
Crossing Press, 1984
This master work by Audre Lorde, a Caribbean American lesbian feminist writer, collects her prose from the late 70s and early 80s. Many of these pieces made feminist history, including her candid dialogue with Adrienne Rich about race and feminism, her oft-quoted critique of academia “The Master’s Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master’s House” and her Open Letter to Mary Daly. 

2. Cunt: A Declaration of Independence
by Inga Muscio
Seal Press 2002
Inga Muscio’s 2002 feminist manifesto radicalized a new generation. She argues for the reclaiming of the tarnished word cunt, and discusses her personal experiences with self-protection, sex work, abortion and solidarity.

1. Feminism is For Everybody: Passionate Politics
by bell hooks
South End Press, 2000
Fittingly, in Ms. readers’ favorite feminist book of all time, bell hooks argues that feminism is for everybody, regardless of race, gender or creed. She urges all to live a feminism that finds commonality across differences and makes room for impassioned debate. 

Movies Totally Different From The Books They Were Based On

You know how readers almost always say that they liked a book better than its movie version? Well, in another one of those lists that they love so much, The Huffington Post presents “movies that feature totally different endings, story lines, and main characters than the original book. Here are a few of our favorite examples. Be warned, spoilers ahead!”

From Chick Lit to Victim Books: Problems with the Woman’s Book Club

Luanne Bradley asks, “What came first, the depressing women’s book clubs or the morbid books?”

The inevitable prerequisite [of book group selections] is the agreed-upon selections must be meaty enough to spark evocative feedback for eloquent sharing round the coffee table. As a result, our picks are highly wrought works of historic, political or cultural significance perpetually mired in sadness. Or, as a fellow member recently commiserated, “Can’t we move on from the holocaust and women in pain?”

I do admit that my own book group has read so many holocaust books that we’ve decided on a moratorium for that subject matter. And a few years ago we read so many books about men who treated women badly that we called ourselves, for a time, the SOB book group.

But back to Bradley’s article:

“As someone who has written about ‘women in pain,’ women dealing with the death of a child, for example, I think that the premise of your question is problematic,” novelist Ayelet Waldman tells me. “All interesting stories are about someone in crisis – in ‘pain’ if you will. Who wants to read about happy people doing happy things? Story is conflict, conflict is story. The Corrections was about people in crisis. Does that fall into your category of ‘victim-literature?’ If it doesn’t, then I think you should take a good look at the question you’re asking, and consider whether it isn’t inherently sexist.”

One suggestion Bradley has for finding other types of books to read is not to “rely solely on the New York Times lists and peruse book stores for the employee recommendations. Oftentimes, you will find sparkling little stories that didn’t cut the mustard with the corporate giant, but are worthwhile nonetheless.”

And my personal assignment from my book group is to find a good mystery that we can all cozy up to this fall.

Why teens should read adult fiction

We’ve seen the discussion before about whether YA (young adult) literature is too dark for adolescents. In this article Brian McGreevy dismisses this subject:

My concern is not this debate — in fact, I consider it to be moot. The YA category is a marketing distinction, not a moral one, however much parents would like it to be a synonym for “safe.”

Instead, he argues that when adolescents reach the point when they’re interested in reading adult fiction, they should be allowed to do so. He calls this point “the V.C. Andrews Curve, after the author of ‘Flowers in the Attic.’”  At this point, “not only will your kids survive an exposure to violence and sexuality in books, but it is crucial to their moral development”:

Of course adolescents have an irresistible attraction to adult themes; perverse and puritanical an instinct as there is in this culture to prolong childhood, there is a far stronger counter-instinct in children to analyze, simulate, and as soon as humanly possible participate in the challenges of adulthood.

Furthermore, he argues that books provide a kind of experience that neither films nor video games can provide:

What neither films nor video games are cut out for is developing the critical faculties that reading does. Higher-order mental processes are not even strictly required to enjoy a movie, whereas books, by nature, are undemocratic. A combination of education and innate sensitivity is required to enjoy them, and the reward is the closest possible experience to entering another human being’s consciousness and revising the parameters of your own. It’s harder because it should be.

I’ve often thought that preventing children who are growing into young adults from reading about the truths of human existence is both a disservice to and a devaluation of them. Young adults know and understand more than we give them credit for. And, while parents’ desire to protect their children from adult knowledge may have good intentions, preventing young adults from learning about adult life leaves them unprepared for a world that they will eventually grow into, whether we like it or not. We need to trust our children:

They’re equipped with a strength and ingenuity they’re not often enough credited with. Life’s genesis and termination — and every gradation of human experience in between — is their birthright. They are entitled to learn about it at exactly the rate it is appropriate to their individual moral development to do so. And as long as you love them enough, they’ll end up basically OK.


Monday Miscellany

Nine seems to be this week’s lucky number.

Nine Pilgrimages For the Lover of Western Literature

A pilgrimage is the focal point around which a journey wraps, not the raison d’etre per se (that is the journey itself) but rather the pulley on the far end of the rope that ratchets you out of your home and into the search for your loved one. . . . here are a possible pilgrimage sites around the world that have played a significant role in the shaping of Western literature.

Read why David Joshua Jennings and John McCarroll chose these nine sites:

  1. The Shakespeare and Company Bookshop – Paris
  2. Ernest Hemingway House – Key West
  3. Troy – Cannakale, Turkey
  4. Globe Theatre – London
  5. Walden Pond – Massachusetts
  6. Chelsea Hotel – New York
  7. James Joyce’s Dublin
  8. Lake District – England
  9. Frederico Garcia Lorca’s Andalucia

As an added bonus, there are links to four additional literary-related excursions at the end of the article.

9 Unique Reading Hotels and Resorts

Recent trends include the emergence of specific “Literature Hotels,” where the focus is all on reading, books, literature, authors and more. Here are nine unique hotels and resorts where words, sentences and paragraphs become part of the amenities.

#1: Literaturhotel Friedenau (Berlin, Germany)

#2: Literature and Art Hotel (Shanghai, China)

#3: Boutique Hotel Stadthalle (Vienna, Austria)

#4: Eleonas Agrotouristisches Hotel (Greece)

#5: Hotel Hof Weissbad (Switzerland)

#6: Mas La Colline (France)

#7: The Algonquin (New York)

#8: Hotel Marini (Italy)

#9: Hotel Kafka (Madrid, Spain)

The Good of the Critic

Elizabeth Minkel writes in The New Yorker about what book reviews, or literary criticism, really mean in today’s social media society, where anyone can post a review of anything, a review based on only unexplained personal preference. To counter such “drive-by reviewing,” she turns to a British collection of essays released earlier this year, The Good of the Novel, which is now being published in the U.S.

Paraphrasing the editors’ introduction, Minkel writes that The Good of the Novel posits that

a good novel is the kind that knocks your entire world-view off its axis, that wholly encompasses you and leaves you feeling bereft at the final page. What makes these pieces so interesting is that they adhere to the idea that “each novel writes its own constitution,” judging these books against the rules their authors have laid out for themselves at the onset, rather than some broad terms on which any novel can be judged. Unlike the drive-by review, the critic is mainly concerned with the writer, not the reader.

What do you look for in a good book review?

The books we buy to look more intelligent: How the average shelf is filled with 80 novels we have never read

Out of the United Kingdom comes this interesting research:

Do your bookshelves show that you are a widely read and intelligent individual? Or is the story somewhat different?

A survey suggests the average Briton owns 80 books which they haven’t read but are there only to make them look more intellectual.

The research found that 70 per cent of books in the average bookcase remain unopened, and four in ten of those questioned confessed that their works of literature were purely there for display purposes.

The research further discovered that Britons keep the classics on display–Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice tops the list–even if they’ve never opened the books. These same people own “trashy novels” they would never put on display: “The top five ‘guilty pleasure’ authors are Sophie Kinsella, Jodi Picoult, Jackie Collins, Helen Fielding and Danielle Steele.”

I wonder if research in the United States would turn up similar trends. Don’t we all, at times, carry around a book we’re not really reading just to impress people, or put a cover on a book we are reading so no one will see what it is?


National Book Foundation Announces This Year’s 5 Under 35 Honorees – GalleyCat

National Book Foundation Announces This Year’s 5 Under 35 Honorees – GalleyCat

And the winners are:

  • The People of Forever Are Not Afraid by Shani Boianjiu (selected by Nicole Krauss)
  • Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool Self by Danielle Evans (selected by Robert Stone)
  • The Walking People by Mary Beth Keane (selected by Julia Glass)
  • Bear Down, Bear North: Alaska Stories by Melinda Moustakis (selected by Jaimy Gordon)
  • Where Things Come Back by John Corey Whaley (selected by Oscar Hijuelos)


Swedish Poet Wins Nobel Prize for Literature –

Swedish Poet Wins Nobel Prize for Literature –

Tomas Transtromer, the Swedish poet whose sometimes bleak but powerful work explores themes of nature, isolation and identity, won the 2011 Nobel Prize in Literature on Thursday.


Monday Miscellany

The greatest death scenes in literature

Five judges of the 2012 Wellcome Trust book prize for medicine in literature ponder the question “What makes for a great literary death scene?” Tim Lott calls their choices “eclectic.” Take a look, and see if you have other favorite death scenes to add to the list.

The 10 best songs based on books 

Here’s another list, this one in pictures.

Hey, Teacher. Let Kids Read Alone.

Writing in the Huffington Post, high school English teacher Steve Terreri suggests that school may be contributing to rather than stemming the decline of reading by American adults. He argues that classrooms try to turn reading, which is essentially a personal and solitary activity, into an act of social conformity:

Reading a book or story or poem or play on one’s own is a peculiarly individual experience. No other medium comes to mind so absent of social or communal qualities, and considering the collective genius currently available in books on every imaginable subject, I’ve often speculated that the modern classroom’s entire reason for being is to translate individual learning experience into social consensus or application.

Terreri concludes:

Considering how wide the differences between reading on one’s own and reading in a class are, I’m interested in how educators might take some aspects from the former to let high school students read just to read and still not only foster literacy but stimulate interest in literature.

How to get your kid to be a fanatic reader

Best-selling author James Patterson weighs in on the issue with CNN:

Sorry, moms and dads, but it’s your job — not the schools’ — to find books to get your kids reading and to make sure they read them.

Patterson says that boys especially need encouragement to read: ” Boys should be made to feel all squishy inside about reading graphic novels, comics, pop-ups, joke books, and general-information tomes.” He encourages family members as well as sports and entertainment superstars to model reading.

Of course Patterson has a vested interest in encouraging youngsters to read. But this article is refreshingly free of self-promotion. It also contains links to many organizations where parents and schools can find information to help them promote reading among children.

Censorship Causes Blindness: The 5 Best Banned Books Turned Films 

In honor of the American Library Association’s annual Banned Books Week, celebrated last week here in the U.S., Word and Film offers its own list:

  • American Psycho
  • Lolita
  • A Clockwork Orange
  • Lord of the Flies
  • The Handmaid’s Tale

Be sure to visit this site, which provides the official trailer for each film.

Books that deserve to be banned

Also in honor of Banned Books Week, Salon writer Laura Miller—facetiously, of course—asks:

Where were these censors when we really needed them — that is, when our 10th-grade teachers assigned “Beowulf” or “The Pearl”? As deplorable as real-life book banning may be, there’s some required reading that those of us at Salon would love to see retired from the nation’s syllabuses simply because we were tortured by it as kids.

Remember Silas Marner? How about Green Mansions? See what books Salon editors remember with distaste. And then take a look at some of the many comments left my readers. They provide an informative exchange.