Downton Abbey

It’s almost here, Anglophiles! Season 3 of Downton Abbey begins on Sunday January 6!
If you want to enhance your Downton experience or find a fix for those days when the suspense around Matthew and Lady Mary’s romance just isn’t enough, you might enjoy some of these titles.
Manor House – Reality television as done by PBS. One family gets to be the aristocrats. Everyone else is a servant. If you enjoyed this, you might also enjoy others in this series like Colonial House, Frontier House and 1940s House.
Gosford Park – Surely you’ve seen this dazzling murder mystery, written by Julian Fellowes and starring Maggie Smith?

Lady Chatterley’s Lover by DH Lawrence – Censored by the US government and not (legally) available here in all its naughty glory until 1959 (Wikipedia has a great run down on the legal fight to overturn the government’s censorship of the text, including the tantalizing threat of one US senator to read the steamy portions of the book aloud on the Senate floor),  DH Lawrence‘s tale of class conflict and smoldering sexuality in the post-World War One Britain is a classic.
Uninvited Guests by Sadie Jones This recent novel from acclaimed British writer Sadie Jones mixes dry wit and dark humour.

Lady Almina and the real Downton Abbey: the lost legacy of Highclere Castle by the Countess of Carnarvon Take a look at the history of the majestic house used for the fictional Downton Abbey.
Fall of Giants by Ken Follett – Grand in size and scope, this 1000+ page novel chronicles the upheaval wrought by the First World War across Europe and the Americas.
The Time Machine by HG Wells I put this book on the list in a nod to the Dowager Countess. After electric lighting and a telephone are installed at Downton, the Dowager exasperatingly says   “Sometimes I feel as if I were living in an HG Wells novel.”
The American Heiress by Daisy Godwin A wealthy American named Cora marries into the British aristocracy near the turn of the 20th century. Sound familiar?


Looking for Alaska

Happy Banned Books Week!

One challenged title that’s near and dear to my heart is Looking for Alaska by John Green. Alaska follows Miles Halter as he starts his junior year at Culver Creek Preparatory School. For the first time Miles has friends, and life after meeting The Colonel, Alaska, and Takumi will never be the same. I Love this book. Love with a capital L.

In 2008, the book was challenged by community members near Buffalo, New York who were upset that the book was on an 11th grade reading list at Depew High School. John Green took to his popular vlog, that he runs with his brother Hank, to address the controversy.   

Fortunately, The Depew School Board voted unanimously to keep Looking for Alaska in the curriculum. Yay for intellectual freedom!

If you’d like to read Looking for Alaska, or any of John Green’s books (seriously, you should!), you can find them in the teen section of the library.

John Green with me and the library’s teen group, TLAB


Rachel’s Banned Book of Choice

A Wrinkle in Time won the Newbery Medal in 1963. It is a book filled with magic, mystery, and adventure, but the very core of it is the simple quest of a girl wanting nothing more than to find her father- a scientist who disappears after working on a mysterious project involving a wormhole technology (tesseract).

Meg, her brother Charles Wallace, and their friend Calvin travel to the planet Uriel. On this planet everything is good. While there, they discover, among other things, that the Universe is being attacked by a monster called the Black Thing. The Black Thing captured Meg’s father and took him to the planet Camazotz, which is dominated by a disembodied brain called IT. As Meg and her companions travel the universe she struggles with herself and her fears to a culmination packed with excitement.

Doesn’t sound like such a bad book, does it? Despite the elements of loyalty, friendship, love, and honor it has been suspect of satanic implications due to the use of magic and witchcraft and endorsing ‘New Age’ religions thanks to crystal balls, telepathy, and mystical elements in the story. Despite this, A Wrinkle in Time is still standing as a classic, groundbreaking work within fantasy and science fiction genres and an empowering book for young readers.


Theresa’s Banned Book of Choice


The book that comes to mind during Banned Books Week is Gone with the Wind.  I have read it several times and find that I can’t believe someone could possibly write a book this good.   However, as with most classics there is criticism.  In several articles that I have read about this book it is because of the terminology and the way certain people are perceived in the book.  Books can’t jump off the shelf and make you read them.  You can pick them up, read them or leave them on the shelf unopened.  The only time a book has any strength is when the reader reads the book and then forms their own opinion.  Writing a book takes a certain amount of creativity and hard work to get to the point where it makes sense and captures what the author is trying to articulate.  I have never attempted to write a book, but I would assume it is a very hard, but passionate thing to do.  Here is what is written about the book from the website along with other banned books,

Banned Books That Shaped America 

 Gone With the Wind, Margaret Mitchell, 1936

The Pulitzer-prize winning novel (which three years after its publication became an Academy-Award Winning film) follows the life of the spoiled daughter of a southern plantation owner just before and then after the fall of the Confederacy and decline of the South in the aftermath of the Civil War. Critically praised for its thought-provoking and realistic depiction of ante- and postbellum life in the South, it has also been banned for more or less the same reasons. Its realism has come under fire, specifically its realistic portrayal – though at times perhaps tending toward optimistic — of slavery and use of the words “nigger” and “darkies.”

So really what we are talking about is the freedom to read what we want and to have our own opinions about what we read.


Tim’s Top 10 Banned Books

Banned Books Week: 9/30 through 10/6

This week marks the 30th anniversary of Banned Books Week across the country. Libraries, Bookstores, Journalists, and Book Lovers all join together to celebrate the freedom to read whatever you want! Did you know that there have been over 10,000 challenges to books since 1990? On average, that’s about 500 challenges a year to books in libraries and schools! Surprisingly, the Harry Potter series has been near the top of the list of the most challenged books in the country since it was released.

Books can be challenged for many reasons, including sexual content, offensive language, violence, or occult themes (what Harry Potter is normally accused of). Librarians feel that open access to books and knowledge is an integral part of any open society. You may not agree with the message or the content of a book, but that does not mean the book should be banned. We all have the freedom to read what we want, but we also have the freedom to NOT read what we don’t agree with or what doesn’t appeal to our taste.

Here are my Top 10 favorite Banned Books:

10. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
9. The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien
8. The Giver by Lois Lowry
7. In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
6. James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
5. 1984 by George Orwell
4. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
3. A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving
2. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
1. Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut

All of these books have been challenged over the past twenty years in this country. As you can see, any book can be challenged at any point, whether it is a classic or even a famous children’s title. Any reading list without Banned Books is not only missing out on some great literature, but is missing out on the opportunity to understand the different cultures, people, and the world around us. Celebrate the freedom to read this week and pick up your favorite Banned Book or try a new one from my list.

We want to know what your favorite Banned Books are! Leave a comment below.


Banned Books Week 2012

Banned Books Week is Sunday, September 30 – Saturday, October 6, 2012. 

Books are banned for all sorts of reasons. Should people be able to ban books, or should everyone have the freedom to choose what they want to read?

Your library supports your freedom to read. Check out this video, by many of your favorite library staff members:

What’s your favorite banned book? Why was it banned, and what is it your favorite?