Banned Books Week

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Banned Books Week

We love stories. That’s why we are in the business of storytelling. But what happens when certain stories are withheld from the public, access is denied in schools and libraries? This is no new concept, certain books still get banned. Censorship is still alive and well and continues to be implemented in school boards all over the world today.

This week, Sept 24th-Oct 1st has been declared Banned Books Week, a time when libraries, schools, and bookstores celebrate our First Amendment freedom to read. Whether it’s print or in the form of an audio book, stories are a precious resource that provide us not only with entertainment, but information, ideas, opinions that may otherwise not be heard.

Recently, there have been various books banned, books I recall reading way back in my high school English classes. Below are some commonly challenged books that you might be interested in. But as you review the list, ask yourself, where do you stand with the content questioned? Sure, there are various reasons why these books are banned, some due to sexual perversity or overall obscenity like Lolita, or because of political, religious, or racial grounds, but does that make it right to remove it from bookshelves?

Commonly Challenged Books:

To Kill a Mocking Bird by Harper Lee –A classic work of literature that was banned two years ago from a high school in Brampton, Ontario due to the prejudice in the novel. A parent objected to the language used, like the vulgar “N” word used in reference to African-Americans.

Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut – Although this book came out 42 years ago, this summer a high school in Missouri banned Kurt Vonnegut’s counter-culture classic from its library and curriculum alleging the book promoted “values contrary to those found in the bible”.

Others include:
Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
1984 by George Orwell

Looking for Comic Relief? – A Review of Fluke

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 Looking for Comic Relief? – A Review of Fluke

I once read that a doctor actually prescribed Christopher Moore books to a patient who needed to lower their blood pressure and cholesterol. How awesome is that? I guess laughter really is the best medicine!

To those of you who haven’t experienced the joy and sometimes unending laughter or fits of giggles that come from listening to a Christopher Moore audio book, I suggest that it’s about time you did! I am a huge Christopher Moore fan and recently sat down to listen to Fluke: Or, I Know Why the Winged Whale Sings.

This is story about  whale researchers (or action nerds as they are lovingly described) who are trying to discover why the Humpback Whales sing. They have been living in Hawaii and documenting whale songs for years without any real leads on why the whales sing. After hundreds of hours of work, they finally hire a young, stoned fake-Hawaiian with dreadlocks who unexpectedly gives them their first real clue about what the whales are singing. Unfortunately for the action nerds, this is where the trouble starts. Their house is broken into, their ship is missing, and the head researcher is eaten by a whale.

Christopher Moore takes his listeners on a wild ride where any science that you don’t understand is simply, magic. I highly recommend that you start listening to this, or anything else by Christopher Moore, but be careful where you listen. Public transit riders may give you some strange looks when you’re sitting on the bus laughing to yourself.

Arnold to Release Memoir

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Arnold to Release Memoir

Arnold Schwarzenegger is known as an actor, bodybuilder, director, businessman, and of course the Governor of California. He is a fascinating figure who has found success in many industries, but has also had to endure other publically humiliating stories to his name. Now, Arnold Schwarzenegger has teamed up with Simon & Schuster to write his very own memoir, tentatively titled Total Recall: My Unbelievably True Life Story. What a clever title!

The book is said to discuss the breakup of his marriage to Maria Shriver, his childhood in Austria and his experience working in bodybuilding, film, and politics. Arnold will have a co-writer, Peter Petre former executive editor of Fortune, to help create the unbelievable portrait of his life.

In terms of the audio book, a few of us at the office thought it might be even more enjoyable if it was narrated by Arnold himself. What do you think? Would you want to listen to an audio book narrated by the terminator himself?

Are Genres Becoming Less Divided?

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Are Genres Becoming Less Divided?

It’s always great when you see young readers listening to your favorite authors like John Grisham, James Patterson, or even Candace Bushnell. If you’re asking yourself why kids would be listening to these adult writers, the answer is simple. This year we have seen many adult writers expanding their readership by writing stories for a younger age group. Now, everyone has the opportunity to discover these great authors.

British author Philippa Gregory, known for The Other Boleyn Girl, just announced that she will be writing four new young-adult historical romance novels. I couldn’t be more thrilled about this as I enjoyed The Other Boleyn Girl.

John Grisham, Candace Bushnell and James Patterson have also joined in on readership expansion by writing YA best sellers. Grisham’s two Theodore Boone novels are both about a young lawyer who looks to be about 12 years old. Bushnell, known for writing Sex and the City, has published two audio books in her young-adult series, The Carrie Diaries and Summer and the City which are narrated by a younger Carrie. Patterson has also written Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life which was released this past summer.

It’s becoming clear that no matter what the genre is, everyone is on the hunt for a great story. I believe it’s important that a younger generation is able to grow up into reading or listening to great stories from great authors. The genre is slowly becoming less prominent. This is evident with the Twilight series, where women and men of all ages are reading a series intended for teens. The genre itself, “teen fiction” no longer holds the same weight as it used to. A great story is a great story, whether it’s intended for a younger or older audience!

Words You Should Never Read In A Book?

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Words You Should Never Read In A Book?

I came across an article the other day about 6 words you should never write. Although it was interesting, I thought it would be much more fun to ask audio book fans what 6 words you should never say in an audio book. I sometimes find it difficult hearing swear words but the worst in my opinion are terms that make me uncomfortable hearing; for example, a romance scene with detailed dialogue. Certain terms just need to be read, not heard in my opinion. But some people are fans of certain genres that call for that sort of thing. Nevertheless, the 6 words the article presented as “forbidden” were the following:

1. Myriad
2. Decidedly
3. Gone missing, went missing
4. Fresh
5. Edgy
6. Hot

The article went into much more detail regarding the specific terms, so if you’d like a better understanding, you can find the article here. Do you think these terms translate well into audio books or do you think we have our own terms probably better left unsaid?

Need A Break From Life? Listen to Marley & Me

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Need A Break From Life? Listen to Marley & Me

The other night I was cleaning my new house, continuing to purge old things, vacuuming, dusting, all the typical household chores. Everything was going fine, until the 15 pound dog that belongs to our tenant came scurrying into the living room with a big stick in his mouth after I had just mopped. Needless to say, there were wood shavings everywhere on my nicely cleaned floor. Although, it upset me, what came next was icing on the cake. I had gone to find our tenant to take the dog outside, but when we returned, the dog had left us a little present, with a not so pleasing aroma.

I put my hands to my face and replicated the Home Alone scream. As I went dashing upstairs to find some more cleaner for this particular mess, I realized it reminded me of an audio book I had heard a few years back, Marley & Me: Life and Love with the World’s Worst Dog. Marley may have been a cute wriggle yellow furball of a puppy, but life is never what it seems. And Daisy, the dog I’m referring to, reminded me of Marley.

Marley & Me by John Grogan was going to be the perfect antidote. So I downloaded the audio book, laid down on the couch, ignored the barking going on around me, and fell deep into the world of John and Jenny and their dog Marley. I reevaluated my environment and thought if Marley was a symbol of devotion, this entire story was based on one concept, unconditional love. It made me realize how lucky I am to have a dog as loyal as Daisy in my life even if she does drive me crazy. I also needed a good laugh. So, if anyone needs a break, Marley & Me is the perfect audio book to listen to when everything around you is quite literally out of control.