Banned Books Week is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read. It was launched in 1982 in response to a sudden surge in the number of challenges to books in schools, bookstores and libraries. The celebration is typically held during the last week of September, and it is meant to draw national attention to the harms of censorship. Even though books continue to be banned, part of the celebration is the fact that, in a majority of cases, many of the books have remained available.
"Among all classes of people, do you think?"
"Then you mean to say," persisted the reporter, "that the principal portion of the reading public of New York is composed of novel readers."
"That is it exactly, so far as library patrons are concerned," replied the librarian.
—The New York Times, January 22, 1882
Orange Is the New Black is the latest series from Netflix based on Piper Kerman's memoir of the same name. The main character, Piper Chapman, is a middle class woman who has to leave behind her life in order to serve 15 months in prison for transporting a suitcase full of drug money for an international drug smuggler/former lover.
Last week, the United States Supreme Court ruled Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) to be unconstitutional under the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment.
In 1996 DOMA was signed into law by President Bill Clinton, barring federal recognition of same-sex marriages for purposes such as Social Security survivors' benefits, insurance benefits, immigration and tax filing.
Section 3 of the law defines marriage as "a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife" and a spouse as "a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or a wife."
This decision means that legally married same-sex couples are now entitled to the same federal benefits as married opposite sex couples. To celebrate this victory I compiled a list of books about other landmark United States Supreme Court decisions.
In college, I studied American History and Politics, but my interest in these subjects was sparked long before that, when as a child, I was exposed to several books, movies and TV shows that celebrated American history.
March Madness begins March 19th! Whether you're busy poring over stats and brackets or cursing the networks for playing reruns rather than fight the NCAA ratings bonanza, we've got some books for you.
During my vacation from the library, between Christmas and New Year's Day, I learned a remarkable lesson. You can get along very well without NEWS. For a full week, I entered a blissfully news-free vacuum. No NPR; no relentless checking of Google News; no Sunday New York Times beyond Arts and Leisure and the Book Review. I didn't care if it was the twenty-first century or the fifteenth. Without that drumbeat of doom in my head all the time, I could focus on what was really important: family, friends, dining, museums, and music.
I've always been curious about Neil Peart. You could say he's the George Harrison of the band Rush. He's the quiet one, but he is anything but silent. In addition to the complex time keeping duties the drummer extraordinaire is also the band's lyricist. With the song's varied themes ranging from philosophy to fantasy you have to assume he is well read.
“The music ceased, the whine of the needle on the empty centre of the record so faint it was hardly anything. Still dwelling in his exile, Florian finished his cigarette and stubbed it out in the grass. The sun was slipping away, the evening light becoming dusky. Jessie clambered to her feet when he did, went back with him to the drawing-room, where he lifted the needle off. In the kitchen he put sausages on to fry.” (Love and Summer, p. 61)
But of course it wasn’t finished. It never could be, it never would be, and it never will be.
Welcome back to the Reader’s Den for the final week of our discussion of The Meaning of Everything: The Story of the Oxford English Dictionary by Simon Winchester! The book tells the tale of the first edition of the Oxford English Dictionary (OED), completed in 1928, but as the author notes at the beginning of the epilogue, it can never really be complete, since the English language itself is forever changing.