Friday, 27 September 2013

Happy Banned Books Week!

It's Banned Books Week - a week celebrating the freedom to read books! It's all about bringing people together to support all types of books and ideas, whether they are orthodox or not, and to discourage the banning and restriction of books as much as possible. In America especially, librarians, publishers, schools and bookshops get alot of complaints and challenges against a book being published or made available each year, for various reasons, and although unfortunately some of them do get banned or removed, Banned Books Week wants to celebrate those that are still available.

I think Banned Books Week has become a truly recognizable campaign to bring awareness to those books that have been banned or challenged but are available for anyone to read now. It has also become an iconic national event now, encouraging extra awareness of particular books that were banned. There are even tote bags!

To me, there are a few books from many decades ago that really stand out as the famous banned books, back when censorship was enforced and controversy was frowned upon. Two of the main ones are 'A Clockwork Orange' as well as 'Lady Chatterley's Lover' which would have been considered the 20's version of 50 shades of Grey. Although they may be considered tame to us now, I do understand why the authorities used to deem these books worthy of banning at the time, when things were more reserved and censored and the encouragement of such behaviour was unimaginable (although I'm glad they're have been released now!). But browsing through the lists of some of the most challenged books, especially from last year, it really does make me wonder what people are complaining about enough to consider banning them.

In 2012, 464 books were challenged in America, these are the top 10 most challenged out of that number and why:
  1. Captain Underpants (series), by Dav Pilkey.
    Reasons: Offensive language, unsuited for age group
  2. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie.
    Reasons: Offensive language, racism, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group
  3. Thirteen Reasons Why, by Jay Asher.
    Reasons: Drugs/alcohol/smoking, sexually explicit, suicide, unsuited for age group
  4. Fifty Shades of Grey, by E. L. James.
    Reasons: Offensive language, sexually explicit
  5. And Tango Makes Three, by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson.
    Reasons: Homosexuality, unsuited for age group
  6. The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini.
    Reasons: Homosexuality, offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit
  7. Looking for Alaska, by John Green.
    Reasons: Offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group
  8. Scary Stories (series), by Alvin Schwartz
    Reasons: Unsuited for age group, violence
  9. The Glass Castle, by Jeanette Walls
    Reasons: Offensive language, sexually explicit
  10. Beloved, by Toni Morrison
    Reasons: Sexually explicit, religious viewpoint, violence
I also found this campaign poster in my Banned Books search - in America, some books are banned to protect children yet guns aren't. It really makes you re-evaluate priorities when spelt out like that.

I can understand that some books may be more explicit and inappropriate for young people to read, but isn't the point of books to be able to express these things? Noone ever wants to encourage people to do drugs or be violent etc, but books allow people to read about issues, learn about them and also relate them. Additionally, some of the reasons raised seem abit extreme to justify banning book, such as religious viewpoint or offensive language. Every writer and book have their own view points and plot styles, even if it doesn't agree with your own ways of thinking, doesn't mean it should be removed completely? If we did that, probably every book could be removed!
People can't stop these negative issues happening in the world, so why stop the books that confront them?

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Books Are My Bag!

Last Saturday it was 'Books are my Bag' day! For those of you that don't know what this means, it's a national day to raise awareness and appreciation for independent bookshops. It's not something I had heard of until about 2 weeks ago when suddenly pictures of these lovely orange bags kept popping up everywhere and I think it is such an amazing campaign! It encourages everyone to go to their local bookshop and buy some books to support them and get a fab free bag (no kittens included i'm afraid) to go with it!
Even Mary Berry got involved!

I'm among the guilty who tend to buy my books on amazon as it's cheap and pretty easy but over the past year or so I have made a conscious effort to support bookshops more and my love for independent bookshops has resurfaced. I just love the indie bookshops - they have so much life and character to them. I find that because each one is different and quirky in its own way, it makes it feel like an adventure waiting to be discovered!

I also think that the orange 'Books are my Bag' bags are fab! What a great way to celebrate BAMB day and raise awareness by having not only a lovely bag to carry all your books in, but for it to stand out and grab the attention of everyone!

The team at Harlequin HQ got their bags through last week and posted up some pictures of them having fun with them...

Another thing I have started to notice, is the uplift and spreading of book tote bags. You can get some really amazing ones, including Mira Ink's 'Book Geek' ones, that not only serve a great purpose (and are environmentally friendly) but show off that you're a book lover! I think it has definitely become cool to be a reader and to love books and so what better than to have a book bag to tell the world!

This popped up on twitter the other day - and how amazing! Do you think book themed bags are the way to increase numbers of readers and booklovers out there? Does it make reading cooler?
Do you have any book tote bag favourites? I managed to get a tote from Hay festival this year and I love it - I end up carrying it with me all the time!

What would you love to see on a tote bag? I'd love to have the Waterstone's ad slogan on one - I think it sums up bookshops for me:
But I am definitely proud to carry round a book themed bag, and I can't wait to use my Books Are My Bag bag and spread the bookshop love!

And to spread the love even more, so you can join in Books Are My Bag day for a little bit longer... here's a small giveaway competition!


In celebration of Books Are My Bag and all things book-loving, Mira Ink have got a lovely goodie bag of books to give away! Enter below by telling us What you love most about bookshops!

(Comp ends Sunday midnight)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, 9 September 2013

How do you choose your books?

How do you choose what book to read next?

Now this is something that I started thinking about after an outing through a bookshop with my boyfriend. Both being lovers of books, we spent a long time walking among the bookshelves, pointing out books that were good and not so good. I found myself not only drawing on books that I had already read, or had waiting on my to-read pile, that I wanted to recommend to be read, but I kept pointing out books that were 'big' at the moment. I realised that I had built up a large amount of knowledge on the upcoming newest, hottest reads purely through twitter and blogging and this was how I choose a lot of my new reads.
This got me thinking, how do you choose your books? There are so many books out there - where to start?

I know alot of you are bloggers and get sent books from publishers to read and review before releases, but how else do you decide what books you want to read? Is it something that you pick up on just by personal choice browsing the bookshelves, or do you pcik up recommendations from somewhere?
I think word of mouth, personal recommendations is still my favourite way to find a book. I'm currently reading 'The Shadow of the Wind' by Carlos Ruiz Zafon, which is fanastic so far, but I never would've picked it so easily without being recommended it as a 'must-read'.
I find myself more and more, following all the publishing and blogger folk and pick up on what books they are talking about at the moment and investigate those further. The power of social media is that the more you see it being talked about, the more you (well I do anyway) want to see what all the fuss is about - when I walk into a bookshop next, it is these books I notice first.
But I also quite enjoy looking at the amazon bestsellers lists to see which books are topping the charts this week. Also I find that the Waterstones charts and books of the week are a great way to find new reads.

Do you do the same thing? Or do you find another way to choose some new books?