Banned Books Week (Sept 30-Oct 6) is celebrating, for want of a better term, its 30th year!
Banning books has a long and ignoble history going back into the mists of time. Possibly the oldest known ban was against 5th century BC Greek philosopher Anazagoras who made the mistake of suggesting that the sun is "white hot stone and that the moon reflected the sun's rays" - which caused him to be exiled from Athens and all his writings burned.
Of course, through much of history it wasn't just the writings that got burned but the writers themselves. Indeed, it wasn't even necessary to put pen to paper to find oneself atop a bonfire, or other equally nasty fate - a word, a deed, or even the mere suspicion of a thought could have been enough. So, I suppose we should be grateful that in the USA today we've evolved from burning people to merely attempting to ban their books.
For the past seven years The National Book Foundation has honored five young fiction writers with its "5 Under 35" award. The recognition of the authors as rising stars in the world of books far outreaches the nominal $1000 monetary award. This year's five honorees have just been announced - each of them nominated by a previous National Book Award winner or finalist. Here are this year's 5 Under 5 honorees, with links to more about them and their books:
Minutes before joining the snaking line outside Coolidge Corner theater in Brookline, my husband and I tucked into soft corn tacos and guacamole and even an elote (corn on the cob) at Boston's awesome Dorado restaurant. The 500-some people waiting in line were the lucky ones with tickets to a reading by my all-time favorite author, Junot Diaz.
A few weeks ago I got an email from Sarah asking advice on an all too common book club problem. She wrote:
"I started a book club about a year ago which has 14 members. The members make book recommendations every six months and then we vote on what books to read. It is expected that everyone rotate being a host and a discussion leader.
One member has not attended a meeting since late 2011, and doesn't even RSVP to let us know that she won't be attending (which we agreed was something we'd all do when we formed the group). I know she is not sick or traveling. Should I try to feel her out and ask if she wants to continue as a club member? Should our club care when members are no-shows and don't participate?"