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Sunday Salon – December 14, 2008

December 14, 2008

Winter seems to be finally arriving in the form of rain, wind and sleet. I don’t know about you, but I look forward to these stormy days to cuddle up under a fleece blanket with a good book while the fire crackles in the stove. The cats like it too!

I have given up on The Lover by A.B. Yehoshua for now. I might pick it up at a later date, but I’m not in the mood to read something that takes so much thought and patience. I finished reading The Secret Scripture by Sebastian Barry this week and loved it (read my review). Barry writes like a poet with a beautiful sense of place. This was my first Barry book, but it won’t be my last. I have A Long Long Way on my TBR shelf and I’ll be reading that one sometime in 2009.

I’m currently reading Pat Barker’s first book of her WWI Fiction Trilogy – Regeneration. I hope to complete the entire trilogy (The Eye in the Door AND The Ghost Road) this month. None of the books are very long and I think they should be read back to back to fully appreciate them. I’m also planning on reading Fingersmith by Sarah Waters for the Orange Prize Project Yahoo group.

In other bookish news, I just read that The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie (which won the 2007 National Book Award for Young Peoples Literature) was removed from schools in the Crook County School District (Oregon). A parent complained that the book was “trashy” and “inappropriate.” One gentleman, Hank Moss, was concerned about a reference to masturbation. A member of the school board was concerned about the “graphic language and the graphic pictures.” Alexie’s response?

“…[the book] is actually a celebration of the compassion a small town of white conservatives showed … an Indian boy, they ended up loving.” He added that his autobiographical book is “about following your dreams. … It’s the story of an Indian kid dreaming of a bigger life. It’s very American,” he said.

So here we go again – “concerned” parents and bigwigs removing (award winning) books from school libraries to “protect” children. Why not use these controversial books as an opening to honest discussion? I have not read Alexie’s book so I can’t comment on the specifics of the complaints…but I would not be surprised if the concerns are blown far out of proportion. Perhaps I will need to grab a copy of this book and form my own opinions regarding its content. Have any of you read it? What did you think?

I have spent some time sorting through the pending challenges for 2009 and have decided to join a few which will help me complete some of my long-term reading goals (click on titles of challenges to read my lists):

My Year of Reading Dangerously 2009 (12 books)

Themed Reading Challenge 2009 (6 books)

New Author Challenge (50 authors)

PUB 2009 (9 books)

Lost in Translation (6 books)

Dewey’s Books Reading Challenge (5 books)

There are a couple of other ones I am also considering…but, I’ll wait a bit before making the commitment.

Finally, have you caught any of the terrific posts for the Blog Advent Tour? My post goes up tomorrow – and there will be an international book giveaway attached to it…so, make sure you stop by!

To all who take the time to visit me today, I hope you are experiencing the joy of the season and finding some great books to read along the way!


  1. December 14, 2008    

    I haven’t read Sherman’s book yet, but it is on my TBR list. I don’t understand why people think banning a book is ever a great idea. I agree with you, it is better to have an honest discussion.

    I also joined Lost in Translation and Dewey book challenges. I can’t wait for the new year to start! I can’t wait to find out what other challenges you join. Are you limiting yourself next year?

    Have a great week!

  2. December 14, 2008    

    Vasilly: I hate the whole banning/restricting reading thing…it gets my blood pressure up! I am definitely limiting myself next year with regards to challenges. I joined far too many in 2008 and as a consequence did not finish several of them and found myself getting stressed. I’m really focusing on my long term goals for 2009 and will try not to get tempted by too many challenges (we’ll see if I can stick to that!). Hope you also have a wonderful week.

  3. December 14, 2008    

    I have the Absolutely True Diary in my middle school library. My 13-year old son read it and loved it. I knew that by putting it on the shelves that it could open up a can of worms, but I chose to follow through with keeping it for check-out. The only thing that I do is send home a parental consent form for the parents to sign. I also attach a review of the book usually from Follett so that the parents are blind-sided by what their child is reading. I hate banning and restriction but by doing this permission form it keeps the book on the shelf and hopefully opens up some form of discussion with the parent and their child.

  4. December 14, 2008    

    Oh I just now finished Affinity by Sarah Waters – I just love her writing. Be sure to set aside a big chunk of time to read Fingersmith – you won’t want to put it down!

    I hadn’t heard about the Advent Tour — will go check it out!

    We have snow here in Portland and it’s ccccold and getting colder. In the teens this week. Yoicks.

    Hope your weekend has been wonderful and your week will be fun and easy!

  5. December 15, 2008    

    Staci: At least your policy helps keep books on the shelves…thanks for making sure that kids get to read these fabulous books.

    Terri: I am really looking forward to Fingersmith – I’ve heard only wonderful things about it. We got about 6 inches of snow yesterday and it is still falling today!

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