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Why We Don’t Celebrate Banned Books Week

June 23rd, 2015  |  by  |  published in Books, Bookselling

 

[Used without permission. Get your Banned Books Week Swag here.]

[Used without permission. Get your
Banned Books Week Swag here.]

Why We Don’t Celebrate Banned Books Week.

Every September, the American Library Association (A.L.A.) celebrates Banned Books Week. Thousands of libraries and bookstores put up displays of banned books like Huckleberry Finn, The Grapes of Wrath, and Ulysses. Eureka Books never does.

This year’s list (permalink here) of the most frequently challenged books, compiled by the Office of Intellectual Freedom (the A.L.A. unit with the most Orwellian-sounding name), include Sherman Alexie’s The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, Marjane Satrapi’s graphic novel, Persepolis, and A Stolen Life by Jaycee Dugard. The reason these books have been challenged are drugs, sex, and language. Homosexuality, racial slurs, and political viewpoint are other common reasons books are challenged. Challenges are mostly made by parents and community members concerned about books available in libraries and taught in schools.

Did you catch what I did?

I started out talking about “banned” books and then I switched to “challenged” books. Book banning is easy to oppose; challenges, a murky concept as described on the A.L.A. website, are less black and white.

It’s a common ploy, using banned and challenged interchangeably. Pay attention next time you read an article about Banned Books Week. Look at the A.L.A.’s website for the same bait-and-switch maneuver.

Even David Goldenberg, of the myth-busting FiveThirtyEight blog, did it with his recent post, We Tried—And Failed—to Find the Most Banned Book in America. [I attempt answer Goldenberg’s question about the most banned books in America here.]

The reason Goldenberg failed was that the A.L.A. won’t show anyone the data used to compile the list. He finally settles on And Tango Makes Three as probably the most challenged book in America (note the switch, from banned to challenged!). Tango is a picture book about a true story of two male penguins who adopt a baby chick at a zoo. It’s challenged as a gay-lifestyle parable. Really, I’m not making that up.

But here’s the thing, despite being the “most challenged” book in America, Tango has sold hundreds of thousands of copies and has been translated into many languages. This year, look for a 10th anniversary deluxe edition.

Wait a minute. A bestselling banned book? Isn’t that an oxymoron? How can a banned book sell so well?

Here’s how, and it’s the reason we don’t celebrate Banned Books Week at Eureka Books: The books are promoted and sold as “banned” books, and readers are encouraged to “celebrate the freedom to read” by buying and reading them. The clear subtext is to encourage a feeling of superiority (“I read banned books”) among those of us (me included) with liberal, left-leaning sensibilities.

But superior to whom? To conservative parents who don’t want their children exposed to four-letter words or to the real-life horrors  Jaycee Dugard suffered during her 18 years of captivity.

You or I might disagree with those opinions, but I suspect few parents would object to a high school library turning down a donation of the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy. Explicit S/M sex scenes probably aren’t appropriate for 14-year-olds.

So if we aren’t going to expose our children at publicly funded institutions to every kind of printed matter, then there have to be standards (spoken or unspoken) about what is and is not appropriate. Discussions and even disagreements about those standards are appropriate topics for parents, schools and libraries to engage in. [Amy Stewart, a co-owner of Eureka Books, weighs in with her perspective as a writer.]

While certain books do get challenged regularly, very few of them are actually banned at the local level. Even if a book is removed from one library or school, it’s not as if the book cannot be found nearby. After all, there are millions of copies of the 2014 top-challenged books in circulation.

I support freedom of expression, but I won’t use Banned Books Week to belittle the heart-felt concerns of people whose political and social values I don’t share. I don’t think they are right to try to remove most books from schools, and I am glad they almost always lose their battles (and they almost always lose).

Ironically, the people who challenge books may have the strongest belief in the printed word—books are so powerful to them that they have to fight against them. That sentiment, even if applied in a questionable way, always gives me encouragement in the day-to-day slog of keeping a bookstore alive and thriving.

**

NOTE: In all fairness, it’s entirely possible that a headline writer came up with the title of Mr. Goldenberg’s 538.com blog post, but it’s a perfect example of how “challenged” books get confused with “banned” books.

 


8th Annual July 4th Dollar Book Sale

June 16th, 2015  |  by  |  published in Arts Alive, Events

Eureka Books 4th of July Dollar Book Sale

This July 4th, during the Old Town Independence Day Street Fair, Eureka Books will host it’s 8th annual dollar-book extravaganza. Everything outside the store will be $1! These are overstock, leftovers from estates we acquired, and books we need to move to make more space. There will be art books, comics, lots of cookbooks, novels, self-help, Spanish language books, books in Japanese, even local history overstock. We’ll move close to 1,000 books from 10 am to 5 pm. Don’t miss it!


New Local History Event, August 1

June 16th, 2015  |  by  |  published in Arts Alive, Blogs, Events, Humboldt County, Local Authors

Scotia and Rio Dell by James Garrison

Eureka Books is excited to host James R. Garrison, a recent HSU graduate, on Saturday, August 1, 2015, during Arts Alive! (6 to 9 p.m.). James will be signing his new book on Scotia and Rio Dell. The book will be published in mid-July.


Amy Stewart’s Girl Waits With Gun

June 15th, 2015  |  by  |  published in Arts Alive, Blogs, Events, Feature, Local Authors

Girl Waits With Gun by Amy Stewart

Amy Stewart, Humboldt County’s best-selling local author (and co-owner of Eureka Books), has a new book out this fall: Girl Waits With Gun. GWWG, as we’ve been referring to it, is a novel that begins with a crash. A speeding automobile destroyed their horse-drawn carriage in 1914, and what should have been a simple traffic accident led to blackmail, kidnapping threats, and a shoot-out, all of which actually happened. We’ll have signed copies for sale on the publication date, September 1. Amy will give a talk and a reading at the Eureka Theater on October 3 (during Arts Alive).


Read. Swap. Repeat.

May 16th, 2015  |  by  |  published in Arts Alive, Blogs, Books, Bookstore, Feature

READ-SWAP-REPEATAt Eureka Books, you can now swap your (gently) used books for almost anything in the store, even new books and most special orders.

Up until now, swap credit was good for used books in the store only. With the new program, you can trade your used books for new books, too. A very few exceptions apply.

In addition to books, swap credit is good for maps, prints, t-shirts, tote bags, pouches and greeting cards.  Nearly everything in the store — and most things we can order — can be bought with swap credit.

So read, swap, and repeat. Expand your mind; help save the planet.


Eureka Books in the Huffington Post

January 27th, 2015  |  by  |  published in Bookstore, Feature 3

 

Eureka Books in the Huffington PostWe’re thrilled to have been selected as one of 10 Beautiful Bookstores That Will Stop You in Your Tracks by AbeBooks, a list reissued by The Huffington Post.


Booksigning of “A Scottish Syndicate in the Redwoods”

December 20th, 2014  |  by  |  published in Arts Alive, Feature, Humboldt County

Scottish-Syndicate-coverSigned copies available.  The book tells the tale of a scam perpetrated by three Humboldt County lumbermen who managed two Scottish-owned timber syndicates.  “Some of the most notorious instances of fraud that the U.S. Land Office uncovered in acquiring public timberland occurred in the redwoods,” said Shepherd.


SIGNED BOOKS AT ARTS ALIVE!

November 10th, 2014  |  by  |  published in Local Authors

Come Join the Party with Local Authors to Celebrate Arts Alive! on December 6.  More than ten authors will be here.  Enjoy the festivities, including wine served by Humboldt County Children’s Author Festival.

Publication3

Schedule

6-7:30 p.m.
Amy & Aiko Uyeki.  Sanae, Senryu Poet: Her Life in 5-7-5.  The Poetry of Shizue Harada
Pam Service.   Alien Contact; A Question of Destiny; Being of Two Minds; Stinker from Space; Stinker’s Return; Storm at the Edge of Time; Tomorrow’s Magic; When the Night Wind Howls; and The Not-So-Perfect Planet.
Greg Rumney & Dave Stockton.  1964 Flood of Humboldt and Del Norte
7:30-9 p.m.
Jerry Rohde,  Mount Rainier National Park: Tales, Trails, & Auto Tours; Best Short Hikes in Redwood National and State Parks; Traveling the Trinity Highway; and Both Sides of the Bluff: History of Humboldt County Places, volume .
Amy Stewart.  The Drunken Botanist: The Plants that Create the World’s Great Drinks; Wicked Bugs; Wicked Plants; The Earth Moved; Flower Confidential; and From the Ground Up: The Story of A First Garden.
Pat Bitton and Lauren Sarabia.  Locally Delicious and Lunchbox EnvyMichael Kauffmann.  Conifers of the Pacific Slope and Conifer Country

Holiday Window Decorating Contest

October 25th, 2014  |  by  |  published in Events

holiday contest

Old Town and Downtown merchants are having a holiday window decorating contest this year, starting November 28, the day after Thanksgiving. Watch the stores sparkle and then vote for your favorites. Ballots will be available in participating shops when the contest begins.

Merchants: The rules and other information are here.


Medical Caricatures Exhibit during Arts Alive!.

September 28th, 2014  |  by  |  published in Arts Alive

Artists embellished medical conditions, treatments, and lampooned practitioners.  The bizarre therapeutics and massive doses of medications are depicted in the show.  The public in the nineteenth century, as today, was frustrated with the inefficiency of medical treatments and the high costs of medical care and drugs.  With art and wit, the caricaturists elevated health issues to comic proportions and directed attention to public health problems.  Sequoia Humane Society will be serving wine from 6-9 p.m. Caricature by Adrian Barriere