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Bookie Blog

25 Sep

Top Five Dumbest Attempts to Ban a Book

Now we know what you’re thinking and you are correct — all book banning is dumb. Bookmans is on it, fighting for your freedom to read ‘em. We remain the pro free speech advocate and all around rebel that you know and love. The reasons people give for challenging books sound like a broken record to us. This one is pornographic; that one celebrates witchcraft; the other encourages civil disobedience. All too often a novel is banned without much reasoning at all. Sometimes it’s a case of how the book is interpreted or who wrote it. Every year The American Library Association publishes a list of the 100 Most Banned Books from the past year. Some books or authors are list veterans. Acclaimed author Judy Blume has five novels that have cracked the countdown. Best Sellers like The Hunger Games or Harry Potter have also made the list. As we welcome back Banned Books Week, what better way to bring attention to the absurd practice of book banning than to highlight those egregious cases when a novel was removed from shelves for reasoning that is so far-fetched, so misguided reasons that will just leave you screaming, “Did you even read the book?” Ladies and gentlemen we give you the top five dumbest attempts to ban a book.

Bookmans Flagstaff Banned Books Display

Webster’s Dictionary
Yup, you read correctly. The dictionary made the banned books list. Schools in California removed The Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary, 10th Edition after parents took notice that a certain sexual act was defined in the volume. It was also under scrutiny in Anchorage, Alaska for including what they called “slang words” such as “balls”, “knockers” and “bed” in 1987.

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, by Frank Baum
This classic is a veteran banned book. It was banned in 1957 from a public library in Detroit for having “no value to children today” and “bringing children’s minds to a cowardly level.” The challenges to this great work go on and on. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz was called “theologically impossible” for its depiction of good witches — not that witches don’t exist but that witches who claim to be good are in no way possible. Some say it promotes socialism or Marxism and encourages a negative attitude. Our personal favorite is the charge that the book is ungodly for depicting women in strong leadership roles. Sorry Dorothy, get back to the kitchen.

Shel Silverstein … in general
This beloved children’s book author makes frequent appearances on the banned books list. These appearances seem to have little to do with any one of his books and more to do with the fact that Silverstein at one point drew cartoons for Playboy Magazine. The light in The Attic, Where the Sidewalk Ends and The Giving tree have been challenged for various ridiculous reasons. The Light in The Attic is accused of encouraging children to break dishes instead of drying them. Where The Sidewalk Ends includes the poem dreadful, which just might cause cannibalism among its readers. Can we please put a smidgen of faith in our children to know the difference between lunch and another person? Much of the controversy surrounding The Giving Tree is a case of interpretation. Some claim it is a story of a selfish little boy and an unhealthy one-sided relationship, others feel it criminalizes the forest industry and some believe the book is sexist. Heaven forbid you interpret the story yourself!

Winnie the Pooh, by A.A. Milne
Oh bother, we’ve gone and banned Pooh. The much loved telling of everyone’s favorite teddy bear has been banned and/or challenged multiple times. In the United Kingdom, Winnie the Pooh along with other stories like Charlotte’s Web was banned because the books might offend Muslim students due to characters such as Wilbur and Piglet. The Muslim Counsel of Britain called the banning “well-intentioned but misguided” and asked that the books be placed back on the shelves of schools. Winnie the Pooh has been removed from shelves because talking animals are an offense to God and place animals on the same level as humans. Well, joke’s on you! Winnie the Pooh is a stuffed animal.

Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin Jr
Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do You see? was accused of promoting Marxism after the popular children’s book was removed from third grade curriculum in Texas because board members confused the author Bill Martin, Jr. for Bill Martin, writer of Ethical Marxism, an embarrassing situation once the truth was brought to the attention of board members. And if it were the same person? Have we gone as far as to deem all books inappropriate by an author if we disagree with just one of the books?

We’ve had our fun with this post, but censorship is a serious issue for us. We take a hard stance on censorship. We definitely do not endorse or appreciate some of the speech covered by our First Amendment rights, but we would never interfere with the right people have to say or consume whatever ideas they wish. In fact, we actively fight for this right. As Blume says, “Let children read whatever they want and then talk about it with them. We wont have as much censorship because we wont have as much fear.” We agree.

Happy Banned Books Week everyone!

18 Sep

Girl Power: Leading Ladies of Banned Books

In honor of Banned Books Week, September 21-27, 2014, we count down our top five heroines in banned or challenged fiction. These loveable yet powerful characters play an important role in challenging the minds of countless readers and that is in itself a timeless story. Not only do these characters represent life, love and coming of age, they show the world through the eyes of a young lady. How is it possible to so accurately capture the essence and adventure of growing up as a girl? These protagonists are written by some of the most ground-breaking authors of all time, who are also women.

Fight Censorship 2014

15 Sep

Exploring Graphic Censorship

One of the issues nearest and dearest to the heart of Bookmans is free speech, that is why we devoted the month of September to the discussion and exploration of censorship. Many of us have heard that famous novels like Alice in Wonderland and Animal Farm were subjected to censors and considered inappropriate. Hearing that today makes many of us scratch our heads and wonder what people were thinking. Novels are not the only literature to be challenged in court. Comics and graphic novels have also been subjected to scrutiny. One might think that the works being looked at for inappropriateness would include foul language, sexuality or excessively graphic violence, but think again. Let’s take a look at some of the comics and graphic novels facing censorship and the reasons why.

Censored Graphic Novels at Bookmans Speedway

05 Sep

Tattoos of Bookmans Speedway: Part 2, Bethanny

Given that every employee at Bookmans Speedway works in a bookstore, it might seem obvious that we would have literary tattoos. For those of us who have tattoos (not all of us do) it is true that literary tattoos are prominently featured, but never as true as with Bethanny. Bethanny has worked for Bookmans for over 3 years in our Book Department specializing in children’s literature. Her love for and knowledge about books runs deep. Bethanny received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Arizona in English Literature.

To Kill a Mocking Bird Tattoo

29 Aug

Join Bookmans for Fight Censorship Month

Bookmans fights censorship every month, but in September we intensify our focus on the freedom to read, watch, play and listen to whatever media we want. In conjunction with Banned Books Week, we highlight ways to speak up and speak out. The right to discovery, knowledge and enlightenment is never a crime — and we want to keep it that way.

Fight Censorship 2014

28 Aug

Book Review: Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh

By Molly Mitchell

More than one friend of mine recommended Allie Brosh’s Hyperbole and a Half since she began the blog in 2009. These recommendations are usually followed by, “You have the same sense of humor.” For whatever reason, I’m turned off by that statement. I actively avoided reading anything Brosh wrote until recently. It was after I heard her interview with Terry Gross on NPR that I became intrigued. She was smart, funny and familiar with depression. That’s my kind of gal.

hyperbole and a half

26 Aug

Book Review: California by Edan Lepucki

Reviewed by Darcy Short

Unlike most post-apocalyptic novels, the world doesn’t end with one big disaster in Edan Lepucki’s new novel California, it ends with many. A poor economy, numerous natural disasters, weak government and poor resource management collide to crumble society as we know it. Desperate to escape an increasingly dangerous and desolate Los Angeles, Cal and Frida retreat to the woods, eking out a meager and comfortless existence. Despite their isolation and difficult existence, they find relative happiness. This foundation is shaken when Frida discovers that she is pregnant. Faced with impending parenthood, the couple seeks civilization to facilitate raising their child.

California by Edan Lepucki

30 Jul

Book Review: Empty Mansions by Bill Dedman and Paul Clark Newell, Jr.

Reviewed by Darcy Short

Empty Mansions by Bill Dedman and Paul Clark Newell, Jr. is the true story of Huguette Clark, daughter of copper baron and corrupt Senator W.A. Clark. At the time she died, Clark was one of the richest women in the world. She owned hundreds of millions of dollars in property including mansions in Connecticut and California, as well as apartments in one of the most exclusive buildings in New York. Yet she spent the last 20 years of her life confined to a hospital room, perfectly healthy but unwilling to leave.

Empty Mansions

17 Jul

Break from Summer Blockbusters with Mind Movies

Everyone loves a good movie but a really, really good movie starts with a great story. In the olden days, families gathered around a fire and listened to the clan story teller weave an epic tale of daring do to captivate listeners. Times changed with printing and even later radio became the new story teller, holding listeners in thrall. Radio stories are wonderful because they include sound effects and skilled actors to weave the tale. Eventually, all this gave way to cinema. It sometimes seems as if nothing can compare to the way films transport us, taking us to other worlds and other places. Unfortunately modern films often rely too much on special effects, drowning us with elaborate visuals but leaving us drenched in CGI. We crave the story that transports us by allowing us to use our imaginations.

Speedway Audio Books

16 Jul

Book Review: Carsick by John Waters

Review by Darcy Short

Cult trash film director John Waters hitchhiked from his home in Baltimore, Maryland to his apartment in San Francisco in 2012. This book details his journey. Carsick is made up of three parts; first he fantasizes about the best that could happen on his trip, then the worst, and finally what actually transpired. I found each part captivating.

Carsick by John Waters

07 Jul

Find Books On Pet Care at Bookmans

We love pets of all kinds at Bookmans; whether it is a loyal dog, a feisty cat or a slithery reptile friend, we support all animals! In July each year, we take the time to recognize our best non-human friends and focus on the animals that bring joy into our lives. We have many animal related events in each of our stores all year-around plus extra special events each July, which you can check out via our Events Calendar. We have other ways to help care for your pets — books!

Animal Shelves

30 Jun

Kids Read, Write and Repeat at Bookmans

Hey, Students! School’s out and you’re itching to have some fun. How does this sound; Bookmans will give you credit for your book reviews. It’s a sweet little program we call Read 10 and it’s super simple. Read 10 books, write 10 book reviews, bring them to your nearest Bookmans location and we will give you $10 off your next purchase. Cool, right?!

Read 10

12 Jun

Bookmans Employee Recommends Books

With so many titles in so many genres available, selecting your next good read can feel overwhelming. Adding to the pressure is the chance that the book you pick out will disappoint you. Even if you have stacks upon stacks of books that you haven’t read on every surface of your home, none of those may seem right. We understand how difficult this decision can be. The Bookmans team is always prepared with recommendations to guide you to your next favorite book. From mysteries to biographies, just ask because we’ve got you covered. If fiction is your addiction Pat, the Visual Merchandiser and book buyer for Bookmans Flagstaff swears by these two novels.

Employee Recommends

19 May

Bookmans Lord of the Rings Bookclub Says Goodbye

This past Sunday marked the end of an era. As our precious (Gollum voice) gathered for the last time — at least for the time being.

LOTR Book Club 1

14 May

Book Review: Emergency: This Book Will Save Your Life by Neil Strauss

Review by Darcy Short

Like most of us, Neil Strauss lived a sheltered life of convenience and modern comfort. But after the distressing events of the 2000s, the terrorists attacks of September 11, 2001 and the financial collapse of 2008, Strauss decided he couldn’t rely on society to take care of him if sh*t hit the fan. He must learn to take care of himself.

Neil Strauss Emergency

08 May

Bookmans Recommends: 5 Women, 5 Books, 5 Questions

The women of Bookmans Grant are hard-working and intelligent. We don’t just sell books, we read them too. We asked about their favorite books. You may be surprised by what they say.


29 Apr

More Novel Treasures at Bookmans Speedway

Bookmans Speedway has a diverse collection of rare and 1st edition novels to browse. A portion of our selection is local interest, including works from local authors and stories and subjects about the Southwest.

Speedway Rare Books

21 Apr

James and the Giant Zombie

James Gurley was ahead of the curve, a trend setter, Zombie Cool before the rest of us knew! Local author and Zombie King James Gurley shares his zombie knowledge in his novels Ice Station Zombie, Judgement Day, Judgement Day: Redemption and Judgement Day: Retribution. The current IT monsters of the day have never been as interesting as those in Gurley’s novels.

James Gurley

18 Apr

Soul Searching with Bookmans

A night at the opera is a night well spent. As the din of sound and energy rushes from the stage, each member of the audience lends their ear to awe-inspiring sound. Perhaps for the gentleman in the front row, the pounding of the timpani drums are enticing to his senses but to the ladies in the back of the house the stringed instruments carry their melody and sound especially sweet.

Soul Searching

03 Apr

Book Review: The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

Review by Darcy Short

It’s nice when a novel lives up to the hype surrounding it. The Goldfinch does just that. It has been placed on numerous best-of-the-year lists and for good reason. The book follows the life of Theodore Decker, a New York boy whose life is pushed into an unusual trajectory after his mother is killed when a bomb is set off in an art museum. In the confusion surrounding the explosion, a concussed Theo makes off with a beautiful painting of a goldfinch done by an obscure Dutch master.

The Goldfinch A Novel

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