This Sunday, September 30th, marks the beginning of Banned Books Week, so head to the library or the bookstore and pick up a banned book. According to the American Library Association the most challenged books from the last decade (2000-2009) is the “Harry Potter” series. I was pleased to see that Alvin Schwartz’s “Scary Stories” series came in at number 7 on the same list, and it topped the charts from the 1990’s. I can remember the “Scary Stories” series being very popular in elementary school, and if you were able to check out one of these books on library day at Cooper Mountain Elementary you were lucky; they were in high demand.
It’s been a little over 5 years since Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (book 7) hit the stores. And on Thursday (Sept. 27) J.K. Rowling released her first non-Harry Potter book, “The Casual Vacancy.” Apparently there is no magic in the book.
Magazine article of the week: “Hostess is bankrupt…again.” Sure this came out in the August issue of Fortune magazine, but the article, which is a kind of dense, outlines how this bankruptcy could spell the end of Hostess snacks foods. Can you imagine a world without the Ding Dong? The Twinkie? Ho Ho’s? These creme filled treats are the kind of things you either love or hate; you get nostalgic or get disgusted.
A few months ago my good friend Nate Gartrell (he used to write for EDN before he moved to the Bay Area) gave me a copy of a book that he contributed research to. It’s called, “Killing the Messenger” by Thomas Peele. The first thing I did when I got home was flip to the acknowledgements at the end of the book and looked for his name and found this, “Nate Gartrell, who had been my student when I taught in the journalism department at San Francisco State University, proved himself to be an able researcher, especially about the Zebra murders, and I am grateful for his constant work on this project.” Kudos Nate!
“Killing the Messenger” is electrifying to say the least. This book is about the notorious Bey family’s reign of crime, murder, and cult fanaticism in Oakland for over 40 years. It details the murder of journalist Chauncey Bailey, who was killed for the story he was writing about the Bey family. And it explores the origins of the Bey family’s twisted brand of religion. The book hits on themes of racism, free speech, and religion, while delivering a riveting storyline. I was impressed with how well this book was researched (don’t accuse me of nepotism, this was in fact a well researched book). Thomas Peele also has a gift for bringing a story to life with his writing. This book is a must read for anyone who loves and appreciates the first amendment. This is one of the best non-fiction books I’ve ever read, and I’ve read a lot of them.
This summer I picked up a copy of “The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2011”, and it has been a joy to read. The book is filled with all sorts of oddities including: 1) Best American Adjectives, Nouns, and Verbs Used in Reporting on the Gulf Oil Spill of 2010, 2) Best American Commune Names, 3) Best American Mark Twain Quotes (taken from his autobiography), and many more random sections. The book is also filled with lots of magazine articles and fiction, and a few comics.