Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Banned Books Week (September 24 - October 1, 2011)

Heard of 'Banned Book Weeks' before? Well, Banned Books Week is the only national celebration of the freedom to read. It was launched in 1982 in response to a sudden surge in the number of challenges to books in schools, bookstores and libraries. More than 11,000 books have been challenged since 1982.

During the last week of September every year, hundreds of libraries and bookstores around the US draw attention to the problem of censorship by mounting displays of challenged books and hosting a variety of events. The books featured during Banned Books Week have been targets of attempted bannings. Fortunately, while some books were banned or restricted, in a majority of cases the books were not banned, all thanks to the efforts of librarians, teachers, booksellers, and members of the community to retain the books in the library collections.

Since the inception of Banned Books Week in 1982, libraries and bookstores throughout the country have staged local read-outs as part of their activities. This year, for the first time, readers from around the world will be able to participate virtually in Banned Books Week, Sept. 24 – Oct.1. Check them out on youtube. Here's one on Whoopi Goldberg reading a poem by Shel Silverstein.

You can find more videos here:

Learn more about it here and/or here.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

Title/Author: The Night Circus/Erin Morgenstern
Publisher: Doubleday
Pages: 400
ISBN 13: 978-0385534635

In a nutshell
This introduction itself hooked me:

"The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des RĂªves, “the Circus of Dreams”, and it is only open at night."

This novel takes place between February 1873 and January 1903 and follows this travelling circus and its cast of acrobats, contortionists, magicians and fortune-tellers, and fabulous attractions such as the Carousel, the Cloud Maze, The Stargazer, the Wishing Tree, the Labyrinth, Bedtime Stories, the Ice Garden, and the Pool of Tears, just to name a few.

But behind those mysterious black and white stripes tents and iron gates that surrounded the circus, lies a story which some aren't aware of, the story of two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who are bound by their 'masters' in a competition. They've been chosen to rival against each other using magic, without knowing the rules of the competition and the consequences of losing. Things got even more complicated when they fell in love with each other.

What I liked
The writing is magical, mysterious and lyrical; the kind of writing I like :) Morgenstern's narrative never failed to leave me in awe. And she has indeed made the Circus enchanting, bewitching and dreamlike. I entered and didn't want to leave. It's difficult to leave a place as magical as this - midnight dinners that serve food that's luscious, tents that have a life of its own, stage performers that exhibit mind-blowing acts; I was so involved in the story I got lost in it and couldn't tell what's real and what's not. It feels as though Morgenstern had cast a spell on it! From the sights and sounds to even the smells, all my five senses titillated.

The Circus is populated with fascinating figures such ­Bailey, a quiet, curious farm boy; Poppet and Widget, the friendly redheaded twins who befriend him; and Tsukiko, a tattooed contortionist, Isobel the fortune teller, Mdm. Padva the costume designer and Frederick, the German clock maker.

Circus entertains, so does The Night Circus, and it does so charmingly, which is why I enjoyed every moment of being in it. So, it never really bothered me that some of the characters were a little flat; lifeless. How can I put this, it's like...I know them, but I don't really KNOW them. I want to care for them, but I can't. There's not much to urge me so. But I do have a soft spot for Bailey, Poppet and Widget :)

My verdict? 4/5
I'd recommend this to anyone who wants to be enchanted by magic and surrealism. I'd have to warn you though, there's alot of jumping back and forth in days and dates. Surprisingly though, I never lost track :) Mind you, I have short attention span. That's how much I was captivated by it.
Oh, and another thing. It's written in present tense, 3rd person. Get it only if you won't be affected by the use of present tense.

If you enjoy action, this isn't recommended. You'd be putt off by it, even from the beginning.

Book bite
The rights of this book have already been sold to the makers of the Twilight films to turn this debut novel into a movie. I can hardly wait! It'd be interesting to see how they're going to turn such a spellbinding story into a movie.


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