Monday, October 1, 2012

Recommended: Banned Books

It’s Monday again, and you know what that means!

After all: What better way to stick it to book banning than to recommend our favorite banned books?

Twisted by Laurie Halse Anderson

High school senior Tyler Miller used to be the kind of guy who faded into the background—average student, average looks, average dysfunctional family. But since he got busted for doing graffiti on the school, and spent the summer doing outdoor work to pay for it, he stands out like you wouldn’t believe. His new physique attracts the attention of queen bee Bethany Milbury, who just so happens to be his father’s boss’s daughter, the sister of his biggest enemy—and Tyler’s secret crush. And that sets off a string of events and changes that have Tyler questioning his place in the school, in his family, and in the world.

In Twisted, the acclaimed Laurie Halse Anderson tackles a very controversial subject: what it means to be a man today. Fans and new readers alike will be captured by Tyler’s pitch perfect, funny voice, the surprising narrative arc, and the thoughtful moral dilemmas that are at the heart of all of the author’s award-winning, widely read work.

Well, in all honesty, I’d recommend ANY Laurie Halse Anderson book. “Speak” and “Wintergirls” were heartbreaking in their own ways, but I picked “Twisted” as a representative of her work because it doesn’t seem to get as much airplay as the other two, in spite of being just as challenged.

Moreover, Tyler’s character was fascinating to me because of how powerful his anger was. Sometimes, his characterization was scary, but for the most part, it struck me as very, very honest.

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

The unforgettable novel of a childhood in a sleepy Southern town and the crisis of conscience that rocked it, To Kill A Mockingbird became both an instant bestseller and a critical success when it was first published in 1960. It went on to win the Pulitzer Prize in 1961 and was later made into an Academy Award-winning film, also a classic.

Compassionate, dramatic, and deeply moving, To Kill A Mockingbird takes readers to the roots of human behavior - to innocence and experience, kindness and cruelty, love and hatred, humor and pathos. Now with over 18 million copies in print and translated into forty languages, this regional story by a young Alabama woman claims universal appeal. Harper Lee always considered her book to be a simple love story. Today it is regarded as a masterpiece of American literature.

Can’t have a banned books list without this one, and why shouldn’t we? It’s a lovely book, one that I can read again and again and again. Also, who can forget Atticus Finch?

Hold Still by Nina LaCour

In the wake of her best friend Ingrid's suicide, Caitlin is left alone, struggling to find hope and answers. When she finds the journal Ingrid left behind for her, she begins a journey of understanding and broadening her horizons that leads her to new friendships and first love. Nina LaCour brings the changing seasons of Caitlin's first year without Ingrid to life with emotion, honesty, and captivating writing.

I’ll get into why I like this book later in the week, but for now, suffice to say it’s a powerful and profound story, one that neither glamorizes suicide nor looks down on mental illness. It’s also one where you can tell how much an author cares for her characters. It’s sad to think that this has become rare.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

Standing on the fringes of life... offers a unique perspective. But there comes a time to see what it looks like from the dance floor.

This haunting novel about the dilemma of passivity vs. passion marks the stunning debut of a provocative new voice in contemporary fiction: The Perks of Being a Wallflower.

This is the story of what it's like to grow up in high school. More intimate than a diary, Charlie's letters are singular and unique, hilarious and devastating. We may not know where he lives. We may not know to whom he is writing. All we know is the world he shares. Caught between trying to live his life and trying to run from it puts him on a strange course through uncharted territory. The world of first dates and mixed tapes, family dramas and new friends. The world of sex, drugs, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show, when all one requires is that perfect song on that perfect drive to feel infinite.

Through Charlie, Stephen Chbosky has created a deeply affecting coming-of-age story, a powerful novel that will spirit you back to those wild and poignant roller coaster days known as growing up.

While I’m not this book’s biggest fan, I find it to be a great coming-of-age novel. Also, The Rocky Horror Picture Show? Yes, please.

Looking for Alaska by John Green

Miles Halter is fascinated by famous last words and tired of his safe life at home. He leaves for boarding school to seek what the dying poet Francois Rabelais called the "Great Perhaps." Much awaits Miles at Culver Creek, including Alaska Young. Clever, funny, screwed-up, and dead sexy, Alaska will pull Miles into her labyrinth and catapult him into the Great Perhaps.

While I have a lot of problems with the works of John Green, I find that “Looking for Alaska” is his best book, one that is funny, smart and very, very honest. I can’t really pinpoint why I love this story so much, but I do, and I heartily recommend it.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling

Harry Potter thinks he is an ordinary boy - until he is rescued by an owl, taken to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, learns to play Quidditch and does battle in a deadly duel. The Reason ...


Hah! Like you need me to recommend that one to you. And no, I’m not just recommending that to ease the burn from my “Goblet of Fire” post - there was a time when I, too, counted the days before the next book and calculated how much from my weekly allowance I would put aside so that I would read the next story. “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” started that magic, and, for better or worse, I've never felt the same way again.

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