Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Banned Books Week Virtual Read-Out

And Tango Makes Three by Peter Parnell & Justin Richardson
Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
Crank by Ellen Hopkins
Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Lush by Natasha Friend
What My Mother Doesn't Know by Sonya Sones
Nickel and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich
Revolutionary Voices edited by Amy Sonnie
Twilight by Stephanie Meyer

What do these books have in common? According to the American Library Association, they are the books that were most frequently challenged in the United States in 2010. Do some of the titles on this list surprise you? A quick survey of the books challenged most frequently in the last decade would yield similar results. Literature, classics, children's books, histories, religious books including the bible... they've all been challenged at one time or another.

The reasons people challenge books are many: sexually explicit or offensive content, violence, homosexuality, inappropriateness for age groups, anti-family and anti-religious sentiments to name a few. If successful, the results of these challenges are often the same: narrowed access to ideas and information, censorship, limitations on your freedoms as a reader. Lest any of us feel too sanctimonious, challenges come from the right and the left, the religious and irreligious, any side of any political or social spectrum you'd care to identify. Often the motivation is based in an attempt to do the right thing; sometimes it is based in fear. Again, the results are the same.

As booksellers, we at Wellers are categorically against censorship. We, like nearly all booksellers and librarians, have faced objections to materials we chose to sell. I view each time I talk with customers concerned about a book stocked or on display as an opportunity. I get to hear what is disturbing to my customer. That is important, I need to hear my customers and to understand their complaints. But at the same time, it is equally important that I let them know I consider freedom of access to information to be a cornerstone in the foundation of our democracy. I also believe that controversial -- even ugly -- ideas are better kept in the light where they can be seen, discussed, and dealt with rather than kept in the dark where they can flourish unconfronted and untouched. During our conversation I also let my customer know that I practice what I preach. Every season I buy books for the store to sell that I consider offensive. Yes, every single season.

So what does one do about "banned books?" Get the word out, of course. Engage in civic dialogue and education. This year's Banned Books week is September 24th to October 1st. On Saturday, September 24, we will be participating in the Banned Books Week Virtual Read-Out. In bookstores and libraries across the country people will be reading two minute selections from challenged books of their choosing. This is an opportunity to dust off your old copy of Howl or recite your favorite passage from the Bible. Wellers staff will video your reading and post it to the Virtual Read-Out YouTube channel as well as Wellers own YouTube channel. And you'll go on record as a defender of the freedom to read.

Just call us at 801-328-2586 or email to sign up for a time on September 24th.

If you'd like more information about Banned Books week or would like to see what books have been challenged, visit the Banned Books Week web site. If you'd like to preview the Virtual Read Out channel on YouTube, go here.

The Banned Books Week awareness campaign is sponsored by Banned Books Week is sponsored by American Booksellers Association, American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression, American Library Association, American Society of Journalists and Authors,Association of American Publishers, National Association of College Stores, Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, National Coalition Against Censorship, National Council of Teachers of English, PEN American Center, Social Icons by Lenka.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

We Speak to the Neighborhood Council

Tonight Tony and I will be attending the Central City Neighborhood Council meeting to talk about our move to Trolley Square. We'll be addressing how& why we're changing and how the move is progressing. We'd love to see you there.

Central City Neighborhood Council Meeting
Wednesday, September 7th 6:00 - 7:30 p.m.