Winner Announced in the Banned Books Week Giveaway!

Cover ImageOne lucky winner has been chosen in the Banned Books Week Giveaway!

Congratulations to: Julie Witt who left a comment on September 28th

for being the lucky winner of The Giver by Lois Lowry!

Please contact me with your name and address by October 16, 2011 to claim your prize. Shipment is to the US and Canada only.

Thank you to all who participated and left comments!

Banned Books, and What We Learn From Them by Todd + GIVEAWAY

[eyechart.jpg]Have you ever heard of Farenheit 451?  To me, this book is the epitome of book censorship.  In the book, a dystopian government works hard to find and subsequently burn all books.  It is a book that parodies book censorship, showing that an extreme rejection of books causes an inhibition of learning, culture, and truth.  Therefore, censoring such a book that in turn is about book censorship represents circular logic that won’t accomplish any goals.

Book censorship is always a hot topic, with parents, teachers, principals, and others weighing in on what they feel is appropriate for their children.  While I feel that obviously there should be limits at the extreme ends of things as far as what is appropriate for school-age reading (extreme violence, explicit sexuality, racial hatred, etc), I sometimes think censors tend to hide behind these categories and paint their censorship with a broad brush.  Have an occasional “God damn” or “hell” in your book?  Censored due to profanity (the case of Farenheit 451 and Catcher in the Rye).  Have occasional fight scenes that are appropriate for the intended age group?  Censored due to extreme violence (recently happened to The Hunger Games).  Basically, the act of censorship can become a slippery slope very easily.  Who is to say what is and isn’t too extreme for children and teens to view?  Maybe if a few curses is considered too vulgar then we should remove them altogether.  Maybe if violence is unwarranted then it should be banned outright.  Obviously, these arguments don’t hold water, and therefore neither should the broad censoring advocated by some.  I feel that by and large parents and educators do an admirable job at mediating what their children read.  However, the few who do take the censoring too far are only harming their children by blinding them from what is actually going on in the real world (hence the picture to the above!)

Also, I feel that overzealous book censorship is almost a moot point in today’s environment.  Do people really believe that censoring a few curses or scenes of violence in a book will automatically protect their children from such things?  Children are surrounded by violence and profanity now more than ever.  Movies, video games, and television standards aren’t what they were when I was growing up, and children become exposed to such things at an earlier age.  If anything, these forms of media are actually more explicit in and of themselves, for they don’t rely on the child’s imagination to propagate unwanted images.  The blood and gore and cursing is there in full, vibrant color, brought to you in 1080p high-definition.  Therefore, those advocating more censorship should think twice about what their perceived effect is.  Granted, as adults we should attempt to limit exposure to such things as much as possible, but the world today is much different from what it was when books reigned as one of the sole media sources for children.  I believe that hands on parenting and regulation of the overall media content a child experiences is a much better tactic than broad book censorship.

In conclusion, here is a short list of banned books which I feel are important to the literary development of today’s youth.  If you’re a parent, I highly encourage you to get your children to read some of the following.  They are books that have the potential to change their lives.

Animal Farm
Brave New World
The Diary of Anne Frank
The Giver
Of Mice and Men
A Wrinkle In Time
Flowers for Algernon
Harry Potter (multiple books of the series)
Huck Finn
Lord of the Flies
A Separate Peace
The Color Purple
Catcher in the Rye
To Kill A Mockingbird
Canterbury Tales
The Hunger Games
One lucky winner will have the opportunity to win a copy of The Giver by Lois Lowry.  For your chance to win simply leave a comment in the thread below.  Comments will be accepted through midnight of Saturday, October 8, 2011.  Winner will be picked at random and announced on Sunday October 9, 2011.  Giveaway open to US & Canadian residents only. Good luck!! 

Winners Announced in The Books That Changed Our Lives Giveaway!

Six lucky winners have been chosen in the Books That Changed Our Lives giveaways! 

Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt –  Congratulations to Bethie who left a comment on March 11th. 

The Giver by Lois Lowry – Congratulations to Laura who left a comment on March 24th.

Who Moved My Cheese? by Spencer Johnson – Congratulations to Elizabeth who left a comment on March 9th.

The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch – Congratulations to Amy who left a comment on March 10th.

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen – Congratulations to Bianca who left a comment on March 13th.

Killing Yourself to Live by Chuck Klosterman – Congratulations to Hira who left a comment on March 16th.

Congratulations to all our winners!! 
Winners: Please contact me with your name and mailing address by April 8, 2011 to claim your prize.  Shipment is to the US and Canada only. 
Special thanks to everyone who participated!!

The Books That Changed Our Lives – GIVEAWAYS!!!

Firstly, I’d like to thank my friends and fellow bloggers for contributing such fantastic blog posts for the blog series this week.  I’m so lucky to have had such talent on the blog this week!  I hope that this week’s posts have inspired some of you out there to pick up the books we spoke about. 

Secondly, I hope that some of you have been inspired to start a dialogue about books with those around you.  It’s so interesting (at least in my opinion) to find out how eclectic people’s book choices can be.  I think the group of us that wrote this week have proven that!!

To recap the giveaways that are being offered see below.  To enter, click on the link and leave a comment on that post!  Good luck to all who enter!!  Entries will be accepted through March 30th at midnight.  US and Canadian residents only please.

1 copy of Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt

1 copy of The Giver by Lois Lowry

1 copy of Who Moved My Cheese? by Spencer Johnson MD

1 copy of The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch

1 copy of Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

1 copy of Killing Yourself to Live by Chuck Klosterman

I just wanted to express, again, my sincere gratitude for those of you who joined us this week.  Another blog series is in the works for next month, so, keep checking back for details!

In the meantime…

…Happy Reading!!

The Books That Changed Our Lives – Todd’s Edition + GIVEAWAY

Hi everyone!  I’ve been tasked by Kim, as you already may know, to choose a book or books that have changed my life.  This of course is no small task.  To review my quarter century of a life and reflect on all the books I’ve read is a large enough task, and picking from that a few outstanding books that have shaped my life is even harder.  However, I feel as if I have done just that.  I have identified two books which I feel changed the course of my life as I know it.  These books are The Giver and Watership Down.

Cover Image

Interestingly enough, I only read one of these books through school.  One would think that because these books were so important and life changing, they surely would have been covered in the curriculum of my roughly 12 years of pre-college schooling.  However, Watership Down was not.  Watership Down was recommended to me by my mother, as she read the book in her youth and really enjoyed it.  The copy I inherited was well-worn and seemed to me to be a true “book”.  It had a yellowish tinge to the pages, and smelled musty and aged.  Perhaps that in and of itself was responsible for some of the allure of the book, yet I tend to think that it was the story that captivated me.  Written by British author Richard Adams, the book tells the story of a group of rabbits that leave their home (referred to as their “warren”) after one of the rabbits has a premonition that their group will be killed en masse if they do not escape.  The book continues to tell the story of this small group of rabbits, as they travel the countryside and try to create a new home.   They encounter numerous difficulties and problems along the way, but they persevere in the face of this adversary.  I think one of the main themes of this novel that really resonated with me was the idea of independence.  The main character, Hazel, is ostracized by his original warren due to the lack of clarity in his premonition, and he is ridiculed.  However, the fact that he ignores this and decides to set out on his own to save himself and others is very noble and self-sacrificing.  Hazel taught me that viewing myself in the greater context of those around me and thinking of myself as a player in the greater good of my friends and family helped to shape my actions and see how they affected these people.  I learned not only to be independent, but to be respectful to the thoughts and feelings of those around me.

Cover Image

The second novel that changed my life was The Giver.  This may seem more familiar with those of you reading, as it is often included in curriculums as a book that teaches about self-awareness and the dangers of a society based on close minded thinking.  This book introduced me to the dangers of influence, as many of the adults in the novel are taught how to believe and think from a young age, creating a society perfectly built on the morals and ideas of its founders.  This idea is even taken to the extreme physically: the world is actually flat and colorless, and the adults are given medication to keep them from having sexual desires and depress their individual feelings.  One man, the Giver, is left to hold all the “true” emotions left in the world: pain, suffering, elation, joy, contempt, depression, etc.  Although not always called upon, he is the authority when community decisions must be made, as he contains the experience, literally, that is needed to make some decisions.  This book shows how modeling one’s thoughts and actions based on too much outside influence and ignoring the true passions and feelings of one’s own heart can have catastrophic results.  I feel that as we enter a new political era in this country where people are constantly bombarded with influence and opinion from so-called “experts” 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, it is easy to forget how to feel sometimes.  We are often so critical of what others think and what others think of us, that we often mimic others in order to feel accepted.  Yes, it is hard to stand out from the crowd, but The Giver shows us that doing just that allows us to gain a whole new perspective and live our lives to the fullest.

So, those are the two books that had a definite impact on my life.  It was hard to narrow my choices down, but I believe that it’s fitting that these novels have similar themes.  I like to think of them as the themes of my life, as they helped to shape me and make me into the person I am today.  It is because of these books that I began to view my life in a different life, and perhaps subconsciously directed me to the career or activities that I do today.  I think that reading was a vital part of my upbringing, and I’m excited to see which books do the same to me as I continue to grow in my literary future.

GIVEAWAY- One lucky winner will be given a copy of The Giver by Lois Lowry.  Leave a comment below of a book that has helped shape you in who you are today!  Comments will be accepted through Wednesday March 30th at midnight.  Winners will be picked at random and announced Thursday March 31st.  Giveaway open to US & Canadian residents only.