Tag Archives: library

‘1984’ sales soar after Trump claims, ‘alternative facts’

After incorrect or unprovable statements made by Republican President Donald Trump and some White House aides, one truth is undeniable: Sales of George Orwell’s 1984 are soaring.

First published in 1949, Orwell’s classic dystopian tale of a society in which facts are distorted and suppressed in a cloud of “newspeak” topped the best-seller list of Amazon.com as of Jan. 24.

The sales bump comes after the Trump administration’s assertions his inauguration had record attendance and his unfounded allegation that millions of illegal votes were cast against him last fall.

Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway coined an instant catchphrase when she called his claims about crowd size “alternative facts,” bringing comparisons on social media to 1984.

Orwell’s book isn’t the only cautionary tale on the Amazon list.

Sinclair Lewis’ 1935 novel about the election of an authoritarian president, It Can’t Happen Here, was at No. 46. Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World was at No. 71.

Sales also were up for Hannah Arendt’s seminal nonfiction analysis The Origins of Totalitarianism.

Binge watching on Netflix no longer requires internet access

Netflix subscribers can now binge on many of their favorite shows and movies even when they don’t have an internet connection.

The long-awaited offline option announced this week gives Netflix’s 87 million subscribers offline access to videos for the first time in the streaming service’s decade-long history.

Netflix is matching a downloading feature that one of its biggest rivals, Amazon.com, has been offering to its video subscribers for the past year. It’s something that also has been available on YouTube’s popular video site, though a subscription is required in the U.S. and other countries where the site sells its “Red” premium service.

The new feature puts Netflix a step ahead of two other major rivals. Offline options aren’t available on HBO’s internet-only package, HBO Now, or Hulu, although that service has publicly said it hopes to introduce a downloading feature.

Netflix subscribers wishing to download a video on their smartphone or tablet need to update the app on their Apple or Android device.

Not all of the selections in Netflix’s video library can be downloaded, although several of the service’s most popular shows, including “Orange Is The New Black,” “House of Cards,” and “Stranger Things,” are now available to watch offline.

Downloadable movies include “Spotlight,” this year’s Oscar winner for best film. Notably missing from the downloadable menu are movies and TV shows made by Walt Disney Co. Those still require an internet connection to watch on Netflix.

The Los Gatos, California, company is promising to continue to adding more titles to its offline roster.

Netflix CEO Reed Hastings had long resisted calls for an offline-viewing option, much to the frustration of customers who wanted flexibility to use their subscriptions to watch a show or movie when traveling on a train, plane or car where internet connections are spotty or completely unavailable.

Earlier this year, Hastings finally indicated he might relent and introduce downloading.

The change of heart coincided with Netflix’s expansion into more than 130 countries, including many areas with shoddy or expensive internet connections that make the ability to watch video offline even more appealing.

Netflix ended September with 39 million subscribers outside of the U.S.

The offline option may accelerate the decline of Netflix’s steadily shrinking DVD-by-mail service, which offers the ability to watch video without an internet connection. Netflix’s DVD side still has one distinct advantage — access to recent theatrical releases before they are available for streaming.

Netflix’s DVD service ended September with 4.3 million subscribers, a decrease of nearly 10 million customers during the past five years.

Bible among most challenged books on latest list

On the latest list of books most objected to at public schools and libraries, one title has been targeted nationwide, at times for the sex and violence it contains, but mostly for the legal issues it raises. The Bible.

“You have people who feel that if a school library buys a copy of the Bible, it’s a violation of church and state,” says James LaRue, who directs the Office for Intellectual Freedom for the American Library Association, which released its annual 10 top snapshot of “challenged” books this week, part of the association’s “State of Libraries Report” for 2016.

“And sometimes there’s a retaliatory action, where a religious group has objected to a book and a parent might respond by objecting to the Bible.”

LaRue emphasized that the library association does not oppose having Bibles in public schools.

Guidelines for the Office for Intellectual Freedom note that the Bible “does not violate the separation of church and state as long as the library does not endorse or promote the views included in the Bible.”

The ALA also favors including a wide range of religious materials, from the Quran to the Bhagavad Gita to the Book of Mormon.

LaRue added that the association does hear of complaints about the Quran, but fewer than for the Bible.

The Bible finished sixth on a list topped by John Green’s “Looking for Alaska,” which has been cited for “offensive language” and sexual content. The runner-up, challenged for obvious reasons, was E L James’ raunchy romance “Fifty Shades of Grey.”

“I Am Jazz,” a transgender picture book by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings, was No. 3, followed by another transgender story, Susan Kuklin’s “Beyond Magenta.”

The list also includes Mark Haddon’s “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time,” Alison Bechdel’s “Fun Home,” Craig Thompson’s “Habibi,” Jeanette Winter’s “Nasreen’s Secret School: A True Story from Afghanistan” and David Leviathan’s “Two Boys Kissing,” with one objection being that it “condones public displays of affection.”

“Many of the books deal with issues of diversity,” LaRue said. “And that often leads to challenges.”

The association bases its list on news reports and on accounts submitted from libraries and defines a challenge as a “formal, written complaint filed with a library or school requesting that materials be removed because of content or appropriateness.”

Just 275 incidents were compiled by the ALA, down from 311 the year before and one of the lowest on record.

The ALA has long believed that for every challenge brought to its attention, four or five others are not reported. LaRue says the association does not have a number for books actually pulled in 2015.

Challenged works in recent years have ranged from the Harry Potter novels to Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird.”

Discussing recent events, LaRue said he was concerned by legislation that Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe recently vetoed forcing schools to warn parents if their children will be assigned books with sexually explicit content. A Fairfax County mother had protested the use of Toni Morrison’s Pulitzer Prize-winning “Beloved” in her son’s high school senior class. The 1987 novel set in the post-Civil War era includes scenes depicting sex, rape and bestiality and has appeared occasionally on the ALA challenged books list.

“We see the danger of censorship moving from the school library into the English classroom,” LaRue said.

On the Web

www.ala.org

Children’s books on class, Winnie the Pooh win prizes

Matt de la Pena’s and Christian Robinson’s “Last Stop on Market Street” nearly made history twice this week.

The illustrated exploration of race and class through the eyes of a boy and his grandmother won the Newbery Medal for the best children’s book of 2015, making de la Pena the first Hispanic writer to receive the 94-year-old prize, one of the most cherished among children’s writers. It came close to another rare coup by finishing as a runner-up for the Caldecott Medal for the top illustrated book.

“I hope all the brilliant Hispanic writers of the past and present view this as a recognition of our diverse community and that it inspires young Hispanics coming up to read their way through the world and consider a path in the arts,” de la Pena said in a statement released through his publisher, Penguin Young Readers.

The winner of the Caldecott Medal was “Finding Winnie,” the story behind A.A. Milne’s famous literary creation Winnie the Pooh, illustrated by Sophie Blackall and written by Lindsay Mattick.

The Newbery and Caldecott awards were announced by the American Library Association, which has gathered in Boston for its annual midwinter meeting.

Ta-Nehisi Coates’ “Between the World and Me,” winner last fall of the National Book Award, was among 10 recipients of the Alex prize for adult books that appeal to teen readers. Coates’ book is an open letter to his teenage son about racism and police violence. The association also handed out two lifetime achievement awards for a former Caldecott winner, the illustrator Jerry Pinckney. Another lifetime achievement honor was given to novelist David Levithan, who works as editorial director at Scholastic.

Rita Williams-Garcia won her second Coretta Scott King Award in three years for the best book by a black writer. Williams-Garcia was cited for “Gone Crazy in Alabama,” the third of a trilogy about the Gaither sisters. Laura Ruby’s “Bone Gap” won the Michael L. Printz Award for excellence in literature written for young adults. The Belpre award for best Latino/Latina book was given to “Enchanted Air: Two Cultures, Two Wings: A Memoir,” written by Margarita Engle. Rafael Lopez won the Belpre illustrator prize for “The Drum Dream Girl,” written by Margarita Engle.

Bush, Reagan, Nixon books burned at Washington library

Biographies of George Bush, Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon accounted for most of the dozen books burned in a fire at the main public library in Tacoma, Washington.

However, library workers don’t think the motive for the Oct. 18 fire was political. It was set in the American History section.

KING reported that Sharon Sailly of Tacoma pleaded not guilty on Oct. 20 to an arson charge and was ordered jailed on $500,000 bail.

Court papers say she poured lighter fluid on the books and started the fire because she had an issue with a librarian.

The fire forced about 250 patrons to evacuate the downtown library. 

Putting banned books on the reading list

Banned Books Week 2014 provides the material for another chapter in the campaign against censorship.

The week brings together the entire book community — librarians, booksellers, publishers, journalists, teachers and readers — and the civil rights community to celebrate the freedom to read and to challenge efforts to restrict access to books.

Banned Books Week is observed Sept. 21–27 with films, lectures, seminars, contests, protests and, perhaps most importantly, the reading of banned or challenged books. One such “reading of banned books,” presented by the ACLU of Wisconsin, takes place at 5 p.m. on Sept. 24 at the Stonefly Brewery, 735 E. Center St., Milwaukee. Other events in Wisconsin were being planned as WiG went to press.

Additionally, readers can participate in a virtual read-out by posting videos to the Banned Books Week channel on YouTube.

Wondering what to read?

• The American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression tracked challenges to more than 300 books in the past year. The most recent was an effort to stop students involved in a summer reading program at a high school in Pensacola, Florida, from reading Cory Doctorow’s Little Brother, a New York Times best-seller and finalist for the Hugo Award for best novel. It’s a story about four teenagers who defend themselves against the Department of Homeland Security after a terrorist attack in San Francisco.

• Each year, the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom records hundreds of attempts by individuals and groups to remove books from library shelves or classrooms. Some of the most challenged classics: F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, J.D. Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye, John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath, Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, Alice Walker’s The Color Purple, James Joyce’s Ulysses, Toni Morrison’s Beloved, William Golding’s The Lord of the Flies, George Orwell’s 1984 and Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita.

• The most challenged authors of the century include Ellen Hopkins, Aldous Huxley, Harper Lee, Peter Parnell, Robert Cormier, Toni Morrison, Stephen King, Katherine Paterson, Maya Angelou, J.K. Rowling, Stephen King and Judy Blume. Five of Blume’s books are on the list of the 100 Most Frequently Challenged Books of 1990–1999: Forever, Blubber, Tiger Eyes, Deenie and Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret.

ON THE WEB

Banned Books Week: www.bannedbooksweek.org

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Chicago neighborhood wants Obama library

Another Chicago neighborhood says it wants to be the future home of the Barack Obama presidential library.

No official plans have been made yet. But residents in the historically black Bronzeville neighborhood say there’s 37 acres there that are a perfect fit.

Harold Lucas is president of the Black Metropolis Convention & Tourism Council in the neighborhood. He tells the Chicago Tribune that the neighborhood is ideal place to tell the story of the nation’s first black president. Bronzeville is where a number of black leaders, artists and pioneers worked or lived.

Several Chicago locations have expressed interest in the library, including an old U.S. Steel South Works site and the University of Chicago. The University of Hawaii has also been mentioned as a possibility.