The American Library Association opened Banned Books Week 2020 (Septembe 27-October 3) with the Office for Intellectual Freedom’s release of their list of the Top 10 Most Challenged Books of the previous year.
The ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom tracked 377 challenges to library, school, and university materials and services in 2019. Of the 566 books that were targeted, here are the Top 10 Most Challenged Books of 2019, along with the reasons cited for censoring the books:
George by Alex Gino Reasons: challenged, banned, restricted, and hidden to avoid controversy; for LGBTQIA+ content and a transgender character; because schools and libraries should not “put books in a child’s hand that require discussion”; for sexual references; and for conflicting with a religious viewpoint and “traditional family structure”
Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out by Susan Kuklin Reasons: challenged for LGBTQIA+ content, for “its effect on any young people who would read it,” and for concerns that it was sexually explicit and biased
A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo by Jill Twiss, illustrated by EG Keller Reasons: Challenged and vandalized for LGBTQIA+ content and political viewpoints, for concerns that it is “designed to pollute the morals of its readers,” and for not including a content warning
Sex is a Funny Word by Cory Silverberg, illustrated by Fiona Smyth Reasons: Challenged, banned, and relocated for LGBTQIA+ content; for discussing gender identity and sex education; and for concerns that the title and illustrations were “inappropriate”
Prince & Knight by Daniel Haack, illustrated by Stevie Lewis Reasons: Challenged and restricted for featuring a gay marriage and LGBTQIA+ content; for being “a deliberate attempt to indoctrinate young children” with the potential to cause confusion, curiosity, and gender dysphoria; and for conflicting with a religious viewpoint
I Am Jazz by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings, illustrated by Shelagh McNicholas Reasons: Challenged and relocated for LGBTQIA+ content, for a transgender character, and for confronting a topic that is “sensitive, controversial, and politically charged”
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood Reasons: Banned and challenged for profanity and for “vulgarity and sexual overtones”
Drama written and illustrated by Raina Telgemeier Reasons: Challenged for LGBTQIA+ content and for concerns that it goes against “family values/morals”
Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling Reasons: Banned and forbidden from discussion for referring to magic and witchcraft, for containing actual curses and spells, and for characters that use “nefarious means” to attain goals
And Tango Makes Three by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson illustrated by Henry Cole Reason: Challenged and relocated for LGBTQIA+ content
The ALA says the difference between a challenge or banning is that a challenge is an attempt to remove or restrict materials, based upon the objections of a person or group. A banning is the removal of those materials. Challenges do not simply involve a person expressing a point of view; rather, they are an attempt to remove material from the curriculum or library, thereby restricting the access of others. Due to the commitment of librarians, teachers, parents, students and other concerned citizens, most challenges are unsuccessful and most materials are retained in the school curriculum or library collection.
The report found that the popularity of libraries in 2019 continues to soar. According to a recent Gallup poll, visiting the library is the “most common cultural activity Americans engage in by far.” In 2019, US adults reported taking an average of 10.5 trips per year to the library, a frequency that exceeded their participation in other common leisure activities like going to the movies, a museum or the zoo.
Additional report findings illustrate a 17% increase in the number of books targeted for removal or restriction fueling library staff efforts to protect the freedom to read. Hundreds of attempts from the public to remove or restrict materials, cancel programs, and dismantle displays and exhibits took place in public, school and academic libraries. The majority of library materials and services targeted for removal included or addressed LGBTQIA+ content.
The ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom tracked 377 challenges to library, school, and university materials and services in 2019. Overall, 566 books were targeted.
A challenge is an attempt to remove or restrict materials, based upon the objections of a person or group. A banning is the removal of those materials. Challenges do not simply involve a person expressing a point of view; rather, they are an attempt to remove material from the curriculum or library, thereby restricting the access of others. Most challenges are unsuccessful and most materials are retained in the school curriculum or library collection.
Here are the “Top 10 Most Challenged Books in 2019,” along with the reasons cited for censoring the books:
1. “George,” by Alex Gino
Reasons: to avoid controversy; for LGBTQIA+ content and a transgender character; because schools and libraries should not “put books in a child’s hand that require discussion”; for sexual references; and for conflicting with a religious viewpoint and “traditional family structure”
2. “Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out,” by Susan Kuklin
Reasons: LGBTQIA+ content, for “its effect on any young people who would read it,” and for concerns that it was sexually explicit and biased
3. “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver Presents A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo,” by Jill Twiss, illustrated by EG Keller
Reasons: LGBTQIA+ content and political viewpoints, for concerns that it is “designed to pollute the morals of its readers,” and for not including a content warning
4. “Sex is a Funny Word,” by Cory Silverberg, illustrated by Fiona Smyth
Reasons: LGBTQIA+ content; for discussing gender identity and sex education; and for concerns that the title and illustrations were “inappropriate”
5. “Prince & Knight,” by Daniel Haack, illustrated by Stevie Lewis
Reasons: featuring a gay marriage and LGBTQIA+ content; for being “a deliberate attempt to indoctrinate young children” with the potential to cause confusion, curiosity, and gender dysphoria; and for conflicting with a religious viewpoint.
6. “I Am Jazz,” by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings, illustrated by Shelagh McNicholas
Reasons: LGBTQIA+ content, for a transgender character, and for confronting a topic that is “sensitive, controversial, and politically charged”
7. “The Handmaid’s Tale,” by Margaret Atwood
Reasons: profanity and for “vulgarity and sexual overtones”
8. “Drama,” written and illustrated by Raina Telgemeier
Reasons: LGBTQIA+ content and for concerns that it goes against “family values/morals”
9. Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling
Reasons: referring to magic and witchcraft, for containing actual curses and spells, and for characters that use “nefarious means” to attain goals
10. “And Tango Makes Three,” by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson, illustrated by Henry Cole
Reason: LGBTQIA+ content
Other library trends are available in the full text of the State of America’s Libraries 2020 report, available at here.
Under the publisher’s new digital terms of sale for libraries, “library systems” will be now be allowed to purchase a single—that is, one—perpetual access e-book during the first eight weeks of publication for each new Macmillan release, at half price ($30). Additional copies will then be available at full price (generally $60 for new releases) after the eight-week window has passed. All other terms remain the same: e-book licenses will continue to be metered for two years or 52 lends, whichever comes first, on a one copy/one user model. A Macmillan spokesperson confirmed to PW that the single perpetual access copy will be available only for new release titles in the first eight weeks after publication—the option to buy a single perpetual access copy expires after that eight week window, and the offer is not available for backlist titles.
The American Library Association (ALA) denounces the new library ebook lending model announced today by Macmillan Publishers. Under the new model, a library may purchase one copy upon release of a new title in ebook format, after which the publisher will impose an eight-week embargo on additional copies of that title sold to libraries.
“Macmillan Publishers’ new model for library ebook lending will make it difficult for libraries to fulfill our central mission: ensuring access to information for all,” said ALA President Wanda Brown. “Limiting access to new titles for libraries means limiting access for patrons most dependent on libraries.
“When a library serving many thousands has only a single copy of a new title in ebook format, it’s the library – not the publisher – that feels the heat. It’s the local library that’s perceived as being unresponsive to community needs.
“Macmillan’s new policy is unacceptable,” said Brown. “ALA urges Macmillan to cancel the embargo.”
The new Macmillan ebook lending model is an expansion of an existing policy that went into effect in July 2018, when the company, without warning, issued a four-month embargo applying solely to titles from the company’s Tor imprint. At the time ALA stated that the delay would hurt readers, authors and libraries.
Since last fall, Hachette Book Group (HBG) and Penguin Random House (PRH) have eliminated “perpetual access” for libraries and replaced it with a two-year access model. Simon & Schuster changed from a one-year to two-year access model. While re-evaluating their business models, none of these firms implemented an embargo—deciding that equitable access to information through libraries is also in their business interest. HarperCollins continues with its 26-loan model. Macmillan now stands alone in its embargo policy among the largest (Big 5) publishers….
But all of this money-spending is making us hungry. And what do you do when you’re hungry? That’s right: you eat. You eat ramen, and just like Godzilla, you look so unbelievably adorable when you do it that it makes your face explode and you cry tears of unyielding madness.
I’ve seen an argument online that a distinction voters are struggling with regarding AO3 is that they believe it is not noteworthy primarily for aspects other than the fictional text (all the fan fiction).
I’d argue that the most noteworthy thing about AO3, /r/Fantasy, and other online fan forums, is that they are venues for users to come together and discuss the speculative fiction they love, run by volunteers. To me, the Hugo Awards and WorldCon itself are about bringing fans together around the work we all love. Ultimately, that’s about the purest reason to vote for a Hugo as any I can think of.
Jay and Silent Bob, Elizabeth Henstridge, Chloe Bennet and more stopped by the Getty Images Portrait Studio delivered by Pizza Hut.
(7) WHEN E.T.
COMES TO STAY. Science & Futurism with Isaac Arthur episode 196 discusses
Alien Invasions have been a staple of science fiction for years, with motherships and UFOs assaulting Earth, but how realistic is such a thing? We’ll take a look at what might motivate an attack, how it might happen, what alternatives might make more sense, and what might prevent extraterrestrials from trying.
(8) TODAY IN HISTORY.
July 27, 1940 — Bugs Bunny made his cartoon debut.
July 27, 1994 — Test Tube Teens From The Year 2000 went direct to video.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born July 27, 1874 — Frank Shannon. He’s best remembered now as the scientist Dr. Alexis Zarkov in the three Flash Gordon serials starring Buster Crabbe between 1936 and 1940. The serials themselves were Flash Gordon, Flash Gordon’s Trip to Mars and Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe. (Died 1959.)
Born July 27, 1938 — Gary Gygax. Game designer and author best known for co-creating Dungeons & Dragons with Dave Arneson. In addition to the almost beyond counting gaming modules he wrote, he wrote the Greyhawk Adventure series and the Dangerous Journeys novels. (Died 2008.)
Born July 27, 1939 — Sydney J. van Scyoc, 80. Her first published story was “Shatter the Wall” in Galaxy in 1962. She continued to write short stories throughout the Sixties and Seventies, and published Saltflower, her first novel in the early Seventies. Over the next twenty years, she published a dozen novels and likewise number of short stories. For all practice purposes, she’s not available in digital format.
Born July 27, 1948 — Juliet Marillier, 71. She’s a New Zealand-born and Western Australian resident fantasy writer focusing entirely on historical fantasy. She has a number of series including Blackthorn & Grim which at two volumes is a good introduction to her, and Sevenwaters which at seven volumes is a serious reading commitment. She’s a regular contributor to the fiction writing blog, Writer Unboxed.
Born July 27, 1949 — Robert Rankin, 70. Writer of what I’d call serious comic genre fiction. Best book by him? I’d single out The Hollow Chocolate Bunnies of the Apocalypse as the best work he ever did bar none. Hell, even the name is absolutely great.
Born July 27, 1950 — Simon Jones, 69. He’s well known for his portrayals of Arthur Dent, protagonist of Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. He first portrayed the character on radio for the BBC and again on television for BBC Two. Jones also featured in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy film in a cameo role. He’s in Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life, Brazil and 12 Monkeys as well.
Born July 27, 1968 — Farah Mendlesohn, 51. She’s an historian and prolific writer on genre literature, and an active fan. Best works by her? I really like her newest work on Heinlein which I’m reading now, The Pleasant Profession of Robert A. Heinlein. Her work on Diana Wynne Jones, Diana Wynne Jones: Children’s Literature and the Fantastic Tradition, is a fascinating read. And I highly recommend her Rhetorics of Fantasy as we don’t get many good theoretical looks at fantasy.
Born July 27, 1973 — Cassandra Clare, 46. I read at least the first three or four volumes of her Mortal Instruments series which I see means I’ve almost completed it. Damn good series. Anyone read her Magnus Bane series?
…As urban legend has it, Google cofounder Sergey Brin once instructed office architects that “no one should be more than 200 feet away from food.” And so they rarely are. On any given day, the 1,300 “microkitchens” located within Google’s 70 or so offices around the world, from Pittsburgh to Istanbul, brim with dried seaweed, turkey jerky, kombucha, and other eclectic treats that rotate according to season, popularity with employees, local tastes, and food trends.
Google takes its snacking very seriously. That’s why it has a dedicated team overseeing it and a chef named Matt Colgan at the helm at many of its western campuses, where he (along with menu architects, wellness managers, and nutrition specialists at Google Food) has quietly emerged as one of the most powerful gatekeepers in the packaged-food world.
“When you’re feeding this many people,” says Colgan, culinary director for Google’s food operations in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Austin, Texas, and Boulder, Colorado, “you encounter every diet imaginable, every request.” You also get bombarded by sales reps at food companies, who are hungering after snackers—and these snackers in particular. They see Google employees, the drivers of Silicon Valley tech innovation, as having the clout, and appetite, to set snack trends.
When Gemini 4 astronaut Ed White lingered during the first U.S. spacewalk in 1965, enjoying the scenery, Mr. Kraft commandeered the communications system and ordered him, “Get back in!” the ship.
“This is the saddest day of my life,” White said, before heading back into the cockpit.
The incident was indicative of the culture that Mr. Kraft set.
“It was, ‘I, the flight director, am in charge. Not you the astronaut, and not the head of NASA. You come to me,’?” said author Michael Cassutt, who writes about the space program. “Much of the NASA culture as we envision it really derives from Chris Kraft.”
(13) BEHIND THE PAYWALL. An article in the July 20 Financial Times
by David Cheal tells how musicians are inspired by space and space travel.
“In 2015 the British band Public Service Broadcasting released an album that celebrated the golden era of space travel. The Race for Space knitted together propulsive, often funky music with spoken-word clips (Kennedy: ‘We go to the moon because it is hard’) to recapture the sheer excitement of Sputnik, the Moon landing–and also tragedies such as the deaths of three Apollo 1 astronauts in 1967. The music was refreshing because it eschewed the notion that spsce has to be electronic, using a range of often acoustic instruments. In 2018 the Northern Irish composer and artist Hannah Peel released Mary Casio; Journey to Casiopeia, which follows the dream of a fictional stargazer to travel from her home in Barnsley to the constellation of Cassiopeia. Peel’s music combines synthesizers with brass.
But one band have gone further and faster than any other in their exploration of the possibilities of space and music: Muse. The British trio’s interstellar adventures show how far space-themed pop music has travelled since the early days of Joe Meek: bass and synths that thrum and pulse like gravitational waves, guitars that shriek and howl like the geysers of Enceladus, wailing, otherworldly voices that sing of “Space Dementia,’ ‘Starlight’ and, most epically of all, a ‘Supermassive Black Hole.'”
(14) WHERE ARE YOU IN TIME? Doc Brown drove a DeLorean to
his future – now your past! Today they’d like to sell you a watch whose look is
inspired by the car — “DeLorean,
the Eternal Design”.
The new documentary about Cambridge Analytica uses thoughtful narration and compelling visuals to create a dystopian horror movie for our times.
If you’d rather not think about how your life is locked in a dystopian web of your own data, don’t watch the new Netflix documentary The Great Hack.
But if you want to see, really see, the way data tracking, harvesting, and targeting takes the strands of information we generate and ties them around us until we are being suffocated by governments and companies, don’t miss the film, which premieres today on the streaming platform and in theaters. […]
(16) THINKING INSIDE THE BOX. Where do you land
in this grid of Writing Style Alignments?
Armed with needles and a yarn of wool, teams of avid knitters danced Thursday to the deafening sounds of drums beating and guitars slashing at the first-ever Heavy Metal Knitting World Championship in eastern Finland.
With stage names such as Woolfumes, Bunny Bandit and 9? Needles, the participants shared a simple goal: to showcase their knitting skills while dancing to heavy metal music in the most outlandish way possible.
Finland is the promised land of heavy metal music. There are 50 heavy metal bands per 100 000 Finnish citizens, which is astonishingly many and actually more than anywhere else in the whole world. The number of needlework enthusiasts is equally high, as according to even the most modest estimates there are hundreds of thousands of people in Finland who are immersed various kinds of needlework crafts, knitting included. What combines them both is the great joy of creativity. When playing guitar as well as knitting stitches it is all about the pleasure of creating something cool with your hands. And – it’s all about the attitude!
(19) DOUBLE DOWN. Gemini Man Official Trailer 2 has
Who will save you from yourself? From visionary director Ang Lee, watch the official trailer for Gemini Man, starring Will Smith. In theatres October 11. Gemini Man (#GeminiMan) is an innovative action-thriller starring Will Smith (#WillSmith) as Henry Brogan, an elite assassin, who is suddenly targeted and pursued by a mysterious young operative that seemingly can predict his every move.
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Hampus Eckerman, Kendall, Mike
Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Cat Eldridge Chip Hitchcock, Carl Slaughter,
SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories.
Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]