Reading Roundup: Banned Books Week, Literary Awards, and #RequiredReading
As the week winds down, dive into some of the recent literary discussions you might have missed.
This Sunday marks the beginning of the annual Banned Books Week, a national campaign celebrating for the freedom to read. Looking for something to read to mark the occasion? Try picking up one of the 2013 most frequently challenged books. (The most-challenged books for 2014 will be released in April.) As recent controversies over summer reading lists demonstrate, the campaign, first launched in 1982, remains as relevant as ever.
And, of course, considerations of how schools should handle delicate or controversial material neither begin nor end with book lists. As Education Week's Ross Brenneman pointed out during last year's Banned Books Week, "even in schools that plaster the walls with pages from Toni Morrison novels, book banning happens in spirit when a school discourages conversations about current events."
In what has been a big week for literary awards, the longlists of finalists for the National Book Award were unveiled this week. The lists include 10 books per category in fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and young adult literature.
The MacArthur "genius" grants, announced this week, also offered literary recognition, with the inclusion of graphic memoirist Alison Bechdel, poet Terrance Hayes, playwright Samuel D. Hunter, and poet Khaled Mattawa.
The Man Booker prize, for which the shortlist of finalists was released on September 9, continues to capture attention for its much-debated expansion of the prize's eligibility criteria to include American novelists. The Guardian offers a fun take on the prestigious prize's headline-grabbing change by asking authors and critics which American novels should have won the prize in past years, had they been eligible.
Finally, over on Twitter, English teachers and students alike might enjoy some humorous mash-ups of beloved and less-beloved required reading titles: