Quote of the Week |

Harriet Beecher Stowe

Banned Books Week
September 24–30, 2017

“Book banning” is as antiquated a term as it is a practice – isn’t it? Not according to the American Library Association. Between 2000 and 2009 alone, more than 5,000 challenges to remove books from libraries and schools were raised because of “sexually explicit” content, “offensive language,” “violence,” “homosexuality,” and materials deemed “unsuited to age group.”

Despite strides taken to reduce censorship, books continue to be challenged for their language and depictions of violence and sex. Banned Books Week is an annual event held by librarians, booksellers, publishers, journalists, teachers, and readers to discuss the importance of literary freedom. (Spoiler alert: more to come for Link of the Week on Wednesday!)

Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Harriet Beecher Stowe’s bestselling anti-slavery novel – credited for helping to bring about the Civil War – is considered by many historians to be the first book in the history of the United States to have been banned on a national scale.

Harriet Beecher Stowe

After its publication in 1852, Uncle Tom’s Cabin was barred from bookstores because of its “pro-abolitionist agenda.” Preventing the book from reaching popular circles, however, proved an impossible task for the Confederacy. Stowe’s work became so widespread that President Abraham Lincoln said, “So this is the little lady who made this big war,” when he met her in 1862.

To take part in this event, our Quote of the Week features the woman who started it all: Harriet Beecher Stowe.

“Scenes of blood and cruelty are shocking to our ear and heart. What man has nerve to do, man has not nerve to hear.” – Uncle Tom’s Cabin

Harriet Beecher Stowe was born in Litchfield, Connecticut in 1811 to a family committed to social justice. (Her father was a progressive Congregationalist minister, her sister Catharine was an author and teacher, and her other sister, Isabella, was a leader in the fight for women’s rights at the time.) As an act of protest against Congress’s passing of the Fugitive Slave Law in 1850, Stowe wrote Uncle Tom’s Cabin, which sold 300,000 copies in its first three months of life. She remained a prominent and influential figure in the North until her death in 1896.


Around Town: Book and Magazine Events in NYC

around-town2September 25th, 2pm
Higgins Hall Auditorium (018), Pratt Institute, 1 St. James Place, Brooklyn, NY 
Hilton Als, Writer-in-Residence at the School of Liberal Arts and Sciences and one of the most original thinkers and prose stylists of his generation, will give two public readings at Pratt, on September 18 and 25.

Als is a New York native. He writes for The New Yorker, and has formerly written for the The Village Voice and editor at Vibe magazine.


Retrieved from CBC books
Retrieved from CBC books

September 25th, 7pm
The Powerhouse Arena, 37 Main Street (at Water Street), Brooklyn
“If you’ve read Caitlin Moran’s 2011 memoir, How to Be a Woman, you might recognize the girl at the center of her new novel. This rollicking and rather autobiographical book follows young Johanna Morrigan, who’s growing up poor but imaginative in the depressed English city of Wolverhampton. After nervously humiliating herself while reading a prize-winning poem on live television, Johanna decides the only way out is to completely reinvent herself, to build a new girl: Dolly Wilde, hard-drinking, man-crazy music critic in a top hat and thick eyeliner. In this excerpt, Johanna-now-Dolly’s drunken father has driven her to an important assignment: covering an early Smashing Pumpkins gig” (npr books).

Join the launch for Moran’s book, published September 23rd! Attendance is free.


September 26-28th, 11am daily.
MoMA PS1, 22-25 Jackson Ave. Long Island City, NY
The NY Art Book Fair is the world’s premier event for artists’ books, catalogs, monographs, periodicals and zines.  Free event.


Bad for YouSeptember 27th, 3-4pm
Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, South Court Auditorium
Are you the kind of kid who thinks it’s BAD when a graphic novel gets banned?  Then get ready to be totally shocked when you find out there was once a time in this country when comic books were BURNED!

Kevin C. Pyle and Scott Cunningham will be reading from their docu-comic BAD FOR YOU: EXPOSING THE WAR ON FUN, detailing those dark days and more. They have a whole chapter on the stuff adults were once afraid of kids reading—including fears from ancient times about reading itself! You’ll also learn about how scary old fairy tales once were, as well as what keeps getting Harry Potter books banned (hint, it has something to do with the devil).

Join Kevin and Scott for their celebration of Banned Books Week (September 21-27) and find out how much fun BAD can be!

First come, first served!


location00_listingOctober 1st, 5-9pm
Franklin Park Bar and Beer Garden, 618 St. Johns Place, Brooklyn, NY 11238.
“Make the Connection”: An evening talk with Michael Miller and Betsy Sussler on breaking into publishing.

Link of the Week: Banned Books Week!

Banning books gives us silence when we need speech. It closes our ears when we need to listen. It makes us blind when we need sight. ~Stephen Chbosky, author of The Perks of Being a Wallflower

link1The act of banning books is not a new thing. There’s always been somebody trying to prevent other somebodies from reading or knowing what was deemed “inappropriate” or “immoral.” When the topic of banned books comes up, titles such as To Kill a Mockingbird or Uncle Tom’s Cabin come to mind, and it’s not difficult to understand why they were banned, but at the same time, why should other people decide what shouldn’t be read?

The books that the world calls immoral are the books that show the world its own shame. ~Oscar Wilde, author of The Picture of Dorian Gray

When it comes to dealing with books banned from school-required reading lists, it’s important to remember the rights each individual has, as well as the right to say no to a book because of content that may not be agreeable for any variety of reasons. Banned books is an important conversation that is happening around the nation, and what better way is there to perpetuate that conversation than to ramp up awareness and provide avenues of communication?

(Check out this list of banned books that’ve shaped America.)


Looking-for-Alaska-by-Joh-002 The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini.Reasons: Homosexuality, offensive lang
 The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie.Reasons  Captain Underpants (series), by Dav Pilkey.Reasons: Offensive language, un

(Note: Book cover images retrieved here )


This week, we celebrate the freedom to read, so take some time to glance around at some of these sites and see how you can participate!

Banned books week homepage – use this resource to learn more about the celebration and to find out what companies are sponsoring and raising awareness.

Follow the official Banned Books Week twitter! – Follow to keep yourself updated on what’s going on, and links to giveaways, articles, and quizzes in honor of banned book week.

Top Ten Challenged books 2001-2013 Check out the lists of most-challenged books between 2001 and 2013.

Infographics on most challenged books since 2013


Has a banned book found its way onto your favorites list? Do you have any contributions to the conversation? Leave them in the comments!