Banned Books Week 2016

This year read a banned book week falls on:
Sunday 2016 September 25 – Saturday 2016 October 01

Every year for the past 34 years the American Library Association sponsors Banned Books Week: The Freedom To Read

Banned Books Week is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read. Typically held during the last week of September, it highlights the value of free and open access to information. Banned Books Week brings together the entire book community –- librarians, booksellers, publishers, journalists, teachers, and readers of all types –- in shared support of the freedom to seek and to express ideas, even those some consider unorthodox or unpopular.

By focusing on efforts across the country to remove or restrict access to books, Banned Books Week draws national attention to the harms of censorship. Check out the frequently challenged books section to explore the issues and controversies around book challenges and book banning. The books featured during Banned Books Week have all been targeted with removal or restrictions in libraries and schools. While books have been and continue to be banned, part of the Banned Books Week celebration is the fact that, in a majority of cases, the books have remained available. This happens only thanks to the efforts of librarians, teachers, students, and community members who stand up and speak out for the freedom to read.

The American Library Association maintains a list of The Top 100 Banned Novels Of The 20th Century for your reading pleasure.

There is even a web site and a domain dedicated to Banned Books Week called

Lastly here is a list of the Top 10 Most Challenged Books Of 2015:

Please read or talk about a book from one of these lists during Banned Books Week 2016.

All freedom and all progress is ultimately rooted in the free flow of ideas.

College Bookstores

A friend of mine went to price her textbooks for the semester the other day. The campus bookstore wanted almost $400. Instead, she got online and went to Amazon. She got her text books for $130.

I got a bit of vicarious pleasure out of that.

I kept a few of my textbooks. I also saved some money by checking some books out of the library for Philosophy classes. The latter trick didn’t last too long as the professors had a fetish for making xeroxed compilation booklets via Kinkos. It saved the students a little bit of money, but it also kind of sucked. No resale value and you didn’t even have a nice Philosophy book for your bookshelf at the end of the semester. You only had a wad of photocopy paper bound together with a squiggly plastic strip.

I have many memories of spending as much money on textbooks as my friend almost did. I would be happy at the end of the semester to sell the books back for enough cash to buy a nice dinner and a good book to read over the break.

In general, I resent books being so overpriced. The printing press changed the world by making the transmission of ideas cheap. That is the whole point of books. I feel a bit better by remembering a thought a boss’s boss once told me. “You aren’t paying for the paper, you are paying for the information”. Meh, maybe. What about the author who has been dead for a century, but a paperback copy of his book costs the same as a meal at a restaurant?

College textbooks are the ultimate racket. I remember new editions of textbooks being required for a class when a mountain of existing copies of that book already existed cheaply. The content of the books would be nearly, if not 100% identical. The content would be on different page numbers and with slightly different headings so a new syllabus wouldn’t work with an old textbook.

I have no doubt college textbooks will become even worse of a racket with the dawn of eReaders on the horizon. Students will continue to pay $400 a semester, but they will not be buying a book they can keep, sell, loan or read again. They will be renting the information, which will expire and disappear from their eReader at the end of the semester. If that student wants to look up that information someday, s/he will have to pay for the privilege. Then those poor students will hear people like me picking up one of my old paper books, flipping through the book and taunting them by saying such things as “Look, no charge! I read it 3 times in a row! No charge! Big Brother doesn’t even know I looked at the book again!”

For now, in the interim between the past and that even worse future I am happy thinking that the smarter students like my friend can use the internet, at least partially, to outflank the college textbook racket to save serious drachmas.

Book Review: “A Guide To Rational Living”

Dr. Albert Ellis was voted by the American Psychological Association as being the second most influential psychologist of all time.

This book is the first book that Dr. Albert Ellis wrote on Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy ( REBT – later known as “cognitive therapy”). I also think it is one of the best.

REBT is built on the idea that our thoughts cause our emotions. Ellis believed that people can change their emotions by disputing their irrational thoughts with facts and reason. Dr. Ellis believed that behaviors and emotions reinforce thoughts. To make lasting changes Dr. Ellis advocated exercises to change behavior and emotions along with changing irrational beliefs.

In this book Dr. Ellis goes through what he believes are the top 10 irrational ideas that cause most people to experience unpleasant emotions needlessly.

Ellis is not known for being a great writer, but in this book he pulls it together. The tone is direct as well as clear, free of psychobabble, and you never doubt that you are being addressed by one of the great psychological minds of the 20th century.

Dr. Ellis views evolved substantially over the decades and over many editions of this book. To get a modern view of the concepts that Dr. Ellis considered to be the most important I would recommend starting the book at chapter 20, going to the end and then starting from the beginning.

Beware, there are multiple editions of this book. To get the latest edition with the most content make sure you have the 3rd 1975 (August) edition. ISBN 0-87980-042-9. For some reason some book sites list this publishing year as 1997. Perhaps that year just refers to a fresh printing. Regardless, the edition you buy should have 23 chapters. Earlier editions do not.

I consider this book to be one of the most influential books I’ve read in my life.