Banned Book Broadside: Catch-22

We’re wrapping up national banned books week. Whenever I peruse a list of banned books, I’m always amazed at some of the titles–others, not so much. Funny thing about challenged books: the ban always makes sense to some. Speaking of which, my aunt recently gave me a copy of Little Black Sambo — an orphan book, she called it. Due racial stereotypes it’s no longer welcome in the school library. I’ll be the first to admit, the stereotypes do make me wince. Yet it’s a perfect reminder that censorship–no matter how admirable it may seem–is dangerous ground.

Needless to say, banned books were in the news: Banned books week: How the blacklist can goose a book’s sales; Why ‘Captain Underpants’ is the most banned book in America (it’s a little embarrassing, really–you would think we could do better); and Randolph County school board lifted the ban on Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man.

Did you catch the winners of the 2013 Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest? Trust me, you do not want to miss these horrible opening lines. Let’s just hope none of them become actual bestsellers. The mere thought hurts my head.
What about you? Do you want your characters to be likeable? I’ll confess, I do–they don’t always have to be good, mind you; but there must be something I connect with . . . something about them I like, even if maybe I shouldn’t.
Speaking of being likeable (or not so much), Lee Siegel talks the fall of negative book reviews in Burying the Hatchet (The New Yorker).
Check out the New York Times article regarding Online book clubs. Do you have a favorite?  If so, do tell . . . (I’m taken with The Phenomenally Indecisive Book Club, myself)