WARNING: This is another post about books.
Please excuse my perceptible enthusiasm; it is only recently (particularly when I was in Japan) that I have reawakened my love for books, a keenness I developed when I was younger. I am trying to allot more time (not to mention money) for reading. I think its a good way to get your mind off the mundane things that plagues one's day to day activities. When boredom creeps in and you really don't have the energy to organize for a friendly get together, just grab a book for entertainment and even learning. Its not so bad, really.
So, yesterday I took a break from work-related stuffs and stumbled upon an online article from TIME. It caught my attention because it was about the ten (10) most challenged books of all time.
And I am proud to say, I have read three of these so-called banned books (thanks to my sister for providing me these; it pays to know someone very familiar with the best literary works):
1) Nineteen Eighty-Four – George Orwell
2) The Catcher in the Rye - J.D. Salinger
3) Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
Nineteen Eighty-Four is actually a favorite of mine since its message remains significant up to now (BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU). Vulgar language, sexual references among other things made The Catcher in the Rye notorious, but I thought emphasis on the lead character rather than the plot was engaging. Finally, it was curiosity that led me to Lolita. It would be natural to despise Humbert for eerily obsessing over what he calls "nymphets". But the book does not support pedophilia, since Humbert's actions led to his demise.
The other seven controversial works are as follows:4) Candide - Voltaire
5) The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn - Mark Twain
6) Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
7) I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings - Maya Angelou
8) The Anarchist Cookbook - William Powell
9) The Satanic Verses - Salman Rushdie
10) Harry Potter Series - J.K. Rowling
Numbers 5 and 10 seem to have wandered in the wrong list. However, Twain's book was banned for its coarse language (using slang as demeaning and damaging), not to mention the touchy subject of slavery. Ernest Heminghway thought it was brilliant, but Little Women's Louisa May Alcott criticized Twain for writing it. Meanwhile, the books on the boy wizard were described by a group of parents in Maine as "promoting violence, witchcraft and devil-worship." Huh, imagine that. Anyway, I hope to read the very, the super, and without a doubt infamous The Satanic Verses. It would be quite a challenge to get a hold of a copy, given the reaction of the Muslim community to the book and to its author.
Update: I lied. I just finished reading Michael Palin's New Europe and I must say I enjoyed visiting selected countries in Eastern Europe from the comfort of my home. However, I am sure it would be thrilling to actually be there.
Love the photographs by Basil Pao and Palin's writing style, which demonstrates his intelligence and humor. The book, and the documentary it was based on, is not only about the historical places, but also about the people that keeps the history alive. Palin describes the sights and sounds of each city he visits with depth that you can almost see and hear it. I also appreciate the questions raised to the interviewees regarding their views on the state of their countries before and after the Communist years and their expectations of the future with an extended European Union. Well, you have to buy the book to find out. (Note: after reading it, I wanted to check my notes on Europeanization from my International Policy class back at Kobe University. Yes, there is such an area of study; I am proud to say I got an A in that class).
A good read indeed. Now, I am seriously considering of purchasing his other travel books (or better yet, the audio edition of the books). Eh-hum, lapit na pasko mga mahal kong kaibigan.