My First List of Banned/Challenged Books

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The ULS: The Underground Library Society

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As the creator of the ULS, The Underground Library Society, and at the request of several followers, I have decided to put up lists of books that have been banned or challenged. If a book is challenged, that usually means there were people who wanted it removed from a school or library.  Both are forms of book censorship. It is important to note that I am not focusing only on books banned or challenged in the United States of America; unfortunately, censorship is a world wide action.

Here is my initial list of banned and challenged books:

The entire Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling;

To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee;

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain;

Beloved by Toni Morrison;

The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie;

The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger;

The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck;

All Quiet On The Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque;

The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown; and

Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak.

I will add more lists of banned and challenged books in the future.

 

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The Stone Arch Secret by K.D. Dowdall: A Five Star Book!

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This fine novel by K.D. Dowdall is a wonderful crossing of the genres of mystery and romance. Mixing genres has potential difficulties, but none of those exist in this sophisticated and engaging book. Rather than getting confused about where to take the tale, K.D. Dowdall skillfully infuses elements of both genres and effectively creates her own new genre: mystery-romance!

From the moment I began reading, I was pulled into the story in this book. The narrative moves between the contemporary mystery and the backstory with Lilly, Noah, and Dax. The tone of Karen’s story is subtle and complex, in which she weaves together a love story, grief for the death of a friend, mystery in an old town, and the threat of a well-drawn, compelling, and threatening villain.

One of the themes of the novel is the potential for corruption in religion and the consequences that can emerge from the combination of political power and, what is essentially a cult, in small town New England. K.D. Dowdall’s rendering of this political/religious threat is powerful and frightening.

K.D. Dowdall shows a mastery of history as well as using convincing dialogue with a welcomed restraint in her description of violence and threat. In all parts of this book, it is well-drawn and carefully crafted.

I will not give any spoilers in this review, but I will say that I recommend this book completely and give it a five star review. If you are a fan of books with a subtle and sophisticated writing style, a fan of mysteries, or a fan of romance, then you will enjoy this wonderful tale.

Please do yourselves a favor, and buy and read this novel!

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Remember to Register and Vote

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If you are one of the people who was horrified by the recent tragedy of the Parkland, Florida school shooting and you wish to do something to enact changes in gun legislation, there is one crucial action or actions you should take: if you are not registered to vote, register immediately, and then vote.

There is no excuse for not voting–none. And if you want to enact gun control legislation, then do your research and find out where the candidates stand. The population of the United States consistently polls that it wants gun control, so act on your convictions.

Voting is one of the most powerful, if not the most powerful, tools in our democracy, and I hope the young people who are leading this fight also register to vote when they are 18 and then vote. If we, who want gun control legislation, do vote, then our voices will be heard, and the narrow special interest that is the NRA will have its influence nullified.

Be sure to vote!

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Cowardice, Hypocrisy, and Corruption

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Those who follow my blog know that I try to keep politics out of it, but I can not sit by and ignore the utter insanity of the events that keep happening–of the never ending mass shootings in our country. Then politicians, the President and many in Congress, come out and offer their prayers and thoughts, while they take blood money from the NRA and the gun manufacturers.

How many innocent people, how many children, both elementary and high school children will have to die and be wounded before action is taken to correct the situation?

When will Americans say, in a united voice, that this will happen no more, that we will hold politicians who do not enact reasonable gun legislation responsible for their increasing cowardice, hypocrisy, and corruption? I have never been a one policy voter, but now I will never vote for a politician who does not support gun legislation, and I hope the majority of Americans say the same thing. Only then, can real action be taken, and the situation can be changed.

I am not arguing that Americans should not be able to have certain guns for self-protection or hunting, but no citizen should be allowed to have an automatic or semi-automatic weapon.  They exist only to kill as many people as possible in a short a time as possible.

And for those who would scream out “The Second Amendment,” I suggest you read it, parse it, analyze it, and understand its intention. We have a military now, and a militia is no longer needed.

As a nation, we need to grow up and act as responsible adults. We need the United States of America needs to be a civilized nation where children and teachers are safe in school, where people can gather to enjoy an evening out, and where attending a concert is not an act of bravery in the face of danger.

We need responsible gun legislation now.

How many will join me in voting against any politician who will not support such laws?

It Can Happen Here: A Lesson from Charlottesville, Virginia

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This will not be a post about my normal subjects.

In 1935 Sinclair Lewis’ book It Can’t Happen Here spoke to the issue that many Americans held that fascism could not occur in the United States of America. His book is satirical, frightening, and, unfortunately, still applicable.

Erik Larson’s nonfiction history book In The Garden of Beasts, 2011, detailed the experience of Ambassador Dodd in Berlin in the 1930s, during the rise and solidification of Hitler’s power, and it is a terrifying read.

We must always remember that it can happen here, that bigotry and hatred can lead to terrible results. That white nationalists and neo-nazis brought their horror and bigotry to Charlottesville, VA yesterday, resulting in violence and death should make all Americans, regardless of political party, Democrat, Republican, or Independent, aware of what can happen.

We should all be frightened of the possibilities of such hatred. We should also speak to the singular lack of condemnation by President Trump of the neo-nazis and white power groups. As President, he should not have said “on many sides.” This is an issue of hatred, brought by those who worship hatred and the defeated, in World War II, obscenities of Hitler. The President should have, without equivocation, stated his condemnation of their actions and beliefs.

We must always remember that fascism, bigotry, hatred, and dictatorship can occur here as it can anywhere. As Americans, whose freedom was paid for in blood, by those who fought in World War Two, we must speak out against such injustice and horror.

There should be no place for neo-nazis, white nationialists, and bigotry in the United States of America.

 

I Stand With the People of Manchester, England

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Once again, the people of the world have witnessed another horrific attack, this time on a group of concert-goers, many of them children, in Manchester, England. This terrifying attack and its  consequences are beyond horror. With great sorrow, I offer my prayers and thoughts to the people of Manchester.

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What Is One Of Your Favorite Movies?

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I have posted before about favorite books.  I will come back to that idea again in the not too distant future, but I was thinking about movies, because I am going to teach a hybrid online/traditional in-class course on Literature and Film at Muhlenberg College for The Wescoe School (the adult program) this summer. This will be an early question I will ask my students, so it is only fair that I think about it.

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My answer would be the same as if this question were for books: The Lord of the Rings by director Peter Jackson (all 3 movies considered to be one–the same as with the books.) I think this adaptation is one of the best adaptations of a book to movie that has ever been accomplished. I love the depth of the story, the issues raised of political power and corruption, war and peace, good and evil, life and death, love and hatred, industrialization and the decimation of the natural world, heroes, both large and small, and the connection of all people. I recommend this filmic adaptation to all.   Please also read the books!

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So, I ask everyone: what is one of your favorite films?