Pumpkin Lattes and More Banned Books

Image courtesy ALA.

Image courtesy ALA.

Did you forget Banned Books Week? Or did you celebrate fully with one copy of Lolita in your right hand and the Bible in your left? Whatever the case, we have a quiz for you.

At the ACLU and Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh’s Banned Book event fREADom on September 30, librarians from CLP delivered a Banned Books quiz to an audience that included such famous Pittsburghers as Etta Cox, Lynn Cullen, Terrance Hayes, Rick Sebak and members of LUPEC. It was delightful, dirty and an all-around a good time.

But if you missed it (or if you’re suffering Banned Books Week withdrawal), have no fear, we’ve got the questions right here. This year’s BBW celebrated young adult literature, and (hint) we did too. We’ve even linked you to other BBW lists and quizzes in some of the answers so you can keep the party going year-round, because a week isn’t enough to celebrate banned books. Enjoy! (But don’t scroll down too far! Answers are below.)


  1. This book was banned for “bringing children’s minds to a cowardly level” and undermining gender roles. It stars a girl from Kansas, her dog, a not-so-brave lion, a scarecrow and a man made of tin who all take a trek down a yellow brick road to find someone to grant their wishes.
  2. Called “trash and only suitable for the slums,” this famous American author’s book had a teenager floating down the Mississippi River with his friend, a metaphor for growing up.
  3. This book appeared on the American Library Association’s list of the most frequently challenged books, and sparked controversy when it was banned by two school districts back in 2004, five years after it was first published. In this latest instance in Wallingford, Connecticut, a parent complained because of a two-page section of the book in which the protagonist witnesses date rape—the section most often contested. In 2013, author Judy Blume came to the rescue of this book after a Chicago school district banned the book in its junior high school. Blume’s intervention sparked a nearly unanimous vote on the school board to reinstate the book later that year in a Banned Books Miracle. Hint: It’s set in Pittsburgh.
  4. Banned for alleged misogyny, author Roald Dahl humorously defended his book with this statement: “I do not wish to speak badly about women. Most women are lovely. But the fact remains that all witches are women. There is no such thing as a male witch. On the other hand, a ghoul is always a male… both are dangerous.  But neither of them is half as dangerous as a REAL WITCH.” Hint: Made into a movie starring Anjelica Huston.
  5. On the same theme, name the popular series that had many religious groups concerned about the books’ focus on witchcraft — and even went so far as to burn them (the books, not the witches) — while other groups merely think that they’re too scary and set a bad example for children.
  6. What 1982 book about a relationship between two high school girls, Annie and Liza, was burned outside of Kansas City, Kansas, school district offices because it described a blooming romantic and sexual relationship between the girls?
  7. This title is still sometimes taken off shelves or reading lists. Not because students might get nightmares reading about a family hiding in an attic until they were dragged into Nazi death camps, but because at one, brief point the 14-year-old protagonist describes her maturing anatomy.
  8. Not strictly a teen read but something that is found in every middle and high school, which fundamental book was banned in the Menifree school district in California for an entry on oral sex? Hint: It’s not a thesaurus.
  9. Can you “catch” on to this banned title? He’s a typical, if moody, teenager. He mourns the loss of his younger brother, hangs out with his younger sister and eventually gets thrown into a psychiatric treatment center. He probably thinks you are phony.
  10. Where the Sidewalk Ends author Shel Silverstein’s other book was banned for “glorifying Satan,” “suicide and cannibalism” and “encouraging children to be disobedient,” as well as the unforgivable offense of “breaking dishes so they wouldn’t have to dry them.” What is the title of this banned collection of poems?
  11. Competition arises among talking farm animals when two pigs fight for control. What is the name of this book?
  12. Banned from many school libraries, protests were lodged against this alliterative title. An interactive, illustrated book, readers looked for the character in many scenes, but detractors who got the book banned saw and objected to topless sun bathers, gay lovers and characters holding up the hail Satan sign.  Hint: The titular character is most identifiable by his red and white striped shirt and red cap.
  13. Name the title or author! This autobiographical novel, with illustrations, tells the story of a young cartoonist who leaves his Native American reservation school in order to pursue his life and studies in the all-white world of the neighboring school.  This young adult favorite has been banned for “pornographic language” and depicting scenes of sex and violence.  It won the National Book Award in 2007.
  14. Students try to get A’s in school, but that wouldn’t be good in this book. The book still places on the Banned Book list because it is considered sinful and obscene by objectors. Which Nathaniel Hawthorne book is this?
Now, think long and hard ...

“Is the answer Where’s Ralph Waldo Emerson?”
Click through for source.

Answer Key:

  1. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by Frank L. Baum
  2. Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
  3. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
  4. The Witches by Roald Dahl
  5. Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
  6. Annie on My Mind by Nancy Garden
  7. Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
  8. Merriam-Webster Dictionary
  9. Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
  10. A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein
  11. Animal Farm by George Orwell
  12. Where’s Waldo by Martin Handford
  13. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
  14. The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne

 So how did you do? Post your score in the comments below.



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Turning in My Busy Merit Badge

I know that I’ve proudly claimed: “I’m one of those idiots who thrives on being busy!” We wear Being Busy and Stretched Thin like Girl Scout badges, almost defying friends and strangers to out-do our schedules (Work! School! Quality time with friends and family!). A recent piece from the Huffington Post — How Being Busy Makes You Unproductive — discusses how busyness and multi-tasking not only slows us down, but also how we use it to disguise fear of failure because doing something means we’re being productive. Not a great way to get through the day.

I wish there were an easy solution, but changing habits (or adding more hours to the day) is a tough task. Small things, though? Those help. Take a walk (attention fatigue is legit and a bit of nature is a great cure). Help us make flowers for the Pop des Fleurs project (Suzy will have more info soon!) or join any of our other awesome craft programs for a mental break. And of course, we have some great resources for figuring out how to slow it down and be a bit more mindful:

And now, a moment of zen …

Click through for source and more zen…

– Jess

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Wish List

The other day I heard a radio station advertising themselves as Pittsburgh’s number one station for Christmas music, and I felt a number of conflicting emotions: panic at the thought of Christmas shopping already, horror at the idea that Christmas is being sold before Halloween is even over and excitement over giving gifts and celebrating the holiday season.

Despite the fact that in my opinion it’s far too early to be looking at Christmas displays, I have to admit that I’ve been dropping little hints to my family about books that I hope to receive this year. Here are a few things on my wish list:

gracejonesI’ll Never Write My Memoirs, by Grace Jones: Grace Jones has been one of my idols for years. She’s so fierce and androgynously gorgeous! I imagine the first time she crossed my radar was when I saw A View to a Kill or Conan the Destroyer, but her career has spanned so much more than just those movies (not least Straight to Hell, the best punk rock western ever!). Model, singer, muse and actress, I can’t wait to read about her life in her own words.

womeninclothesWomen in Clothes, edited by Sheila Heti: I hinted at this book last holiday season, but apparently not loudly enough. I actually forgot about it until I noticed a colleague reading it and remembered how much I enjoyed it. Lovers of clothes, lists and conversational interviews and essays about what clothes mean to the wearer will enjoy this book. Heti, Molly Ringwald, Miranda July and Lena Dunham are among the contributors to this book, which examines what clothes mean in the lives of women.

andywarholAndy Warhol: Polaroids: My love of Polaroid photography began in high school, and has grown to the point where I still have a small stash of aging Time Zero film stored in a lunchbox in my refrigerator. As the owner of several Polaroid cameras and a pre-Instagram love of documenting moments, I enjoy both taking instant pictures and looking at them. Not to mention that Grace Jones adorns the cover of this book!

My apologies for talking holiday season before Halloween! What books are you wishing for these days?



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Halloween Style

Halloween means so many different things to so many different people. For some, it’s all about dressing up, having fun and getting candy. For others, it’s a celebration of those souls who have moved on in the past year. And for others still, it’s a time to avoid the world and sit in the safety of their home, read a book and pretend nothing is going on and that it’s not scary outside. Can you guess which camp I fall under?

I love fall. I think it’s one of the best seasons. But during Halloween, I prefer to be safely inside and know that what I’m being scared by is all fake. To celebrate that safe/scary dichotomy, I’ve compiled a list of the top five books I recommend for the Halloween season.
this monstrous thing

This Monstrous Thing by Mackenzi Lee is the story of Frankenstein, but not the way everyone has traditionally read it (except me, I haven’t actually read Frakenstein…shhh). The story is of two brothers who grow up in a society that does not support their work, which is helping those wounded to live longer lives with the aid of mechanic prosthetics. A tragedy befalls the older brother and soon the younger one is trying to bring him back to life a la Frankestein. I enjoyed the way the author brought the original tale and some history into the book. It was an enjoyable and pretty quick read that wasn’t TOO scary.
17and gone

17 & Gone is a story about a girl who is 17 (I know, what a surprise!). She notices that many girls go missing at this age and are never found. She begins to hear them talk to her, so she finds herself tied up in the mystery of a local girl who went missing over the summer, but also the mystery of who she is:  is she truly helping those around her or is she doing more harm than good? This book is scary because of what it can make you think about, but it isn’t terrifying. 


Shutter was a suspenseful and scary book to me (I mean look at that cover…gives me the shivers…or makes me shudder…ha…ha). This is a story about the Stokers and the Van Helsings. Well, their great-great-grandchildren, or relations somewhere down the line. Anyway, throughout the ages, they have fought the supernatural and evil and are often called in during emergencies with such entities. However, this is the first time one has caused so much damage to Micheline’s team. Now the team has to hunt the entity before they become entangled in its plan. Overall, the book had me on the edge of my seat, because I really wanted to know who the entity was and why it was so angry. I was left a little sad at the end because I felt that it ended with a cliff hanger.


Ripper is a tale about Jack the Ripper…kind of. I’ve written a post about Jack the Ripper before, and because I find the story fascinating, I’m adding another book to the list of Jack the Ripper books. This one is about a young boy who wants to be a detective, and the Jack the Ripper mystery might be the best place for him to start. This books is full of twists and turns and is really entertaining.

cuckoo song

Last but not least: Cuckoo SongI mean, look at the cover. Dolls are always creepy to me. This book is told from the point of view of a young girl who is trying to figure out why she is acting so strange and why she can’t stop eating. It’s got a little bit of mystery and a little bit of fantasy, and overall it’s a good but creepy read.

What are you reading this Halloween? Anything spooky?



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The Puzzle that is Jane The Virgin

Jane The Virgin -- Image Number: JAV02_KeyArt.jpg -- Pictured: Gina Rodriguez as Jane -- Photo: Nino Munoz/The CW -- © 2015 The CW Network, LLC. All rights reserved.

© 2015 The CW Network, LLC. All rights reserved.

I’m declaring October TV month in the Eleventh Stack world because I’m here yet again to talk television! This time the show is Jane The Virgin. It stars Gina Rodriguez, who won a Golden Globe this year for her role as Jane. After hearing a lot of good things about this show, I decided to check it out for myself.

The story starts with Jane going to an appointment with her gynecologist. Jane is scheduled for a routine pap smear but that’s not what happens. Her gynecologist, Luisa, is having a rough day after finding her wife in bed with her assistant, so needless to say her mind is elsewhere. In the next room is Luisa’s sister-in-law, Petra, who is there to be artificially inseminated with her husband Rafael’s sample. Jane ended up being artificially inseminated with Rafael’s sample. What makes the story even crazier is that as we all know from title of the show Jane is a virgin. Jane, her mother, and grandmother initially didn’t take the news well. Another person who didn’t take this news well was Jane’s boyfriend, Michael.

Things get even messier because Jane knows Rafael from her past. They had met five years ago when Jane was working at a country club. They had a great conversation and even kissed, but then Rafael never called her after that. So Jane doesn’t have the best opinion of him at first and neither does her mother.

Speaking of Jane’s mother, Xiomara, she’s been holding a secret about the real identity of Jane’s father. She told Jane that he was in the military, but the truth is he’s Rogelio de la Vega, the star of Jane’s favorite telenovella. Jane’s mother dated him back in high school & initially he didn’t want the baby which is why Xiomara never revealed his true identity.

There are a lot of other crazy things that occur, but I won’t spoil the whole show. What I like about this show is that even though the show is centered on Jane, there’s a whole bunch of little stories going on that still connect back to Jane. I haven’t finished season one yet, but I’m still recommending it because it’s a good show. Season one is available in our catalog.

Meanwhile season 2 airs Monday nights at 9 on The CW.



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Sicario: A Must See (If You Have The Stomach For It)

Two weeks ago I saw Sicario. This bleak, nihilistic exploration of the ill-fated drug war offers unforgettable performances from stars Emily Blunt, Josh Brolin and Benicio Del Toro. Ms. Blunt plays Kate Macer, an idealistic FBI agent on the trail of a major drug trafficking ring near the border between the United States and Mexico. After a break in the case that results in the deaths of several law enforcement officers, Macer gets called into a high-level meeting to meet Matt Graver (played by Mr. Brolin). Looking more like a washed-up surf bum than a federal agent, Graver leads a shadowy team of operatives hunting only the biggest fish among the Mexican drug lords. He asks Macer in, and she accedes. From there things get messy.

Sicario is wonderfully paced and directed by Dennis Villeneuve and gorgeously shot by director of photography Roger Deakins. It features a chilling performance by Mr. Del Toro as the mysterious Alejandro, a man seemingly working for the “good guys,” but readily capable of heinous acts of violence. Agent Macer realizes she is in over her head during a nearly disastrous foray over the border into Mexico, and the movie quickly cranks the moral ambiguity up to ten and then breaks the nob off.

Sicario stays with you. That’s why I believe it will be an Oscar contender. It got me thinking about other movies and books about crime and the drug war that have had a similar affect on me.

Here’s a quick list of some titles that fit this description:

Chasing The Scream: The First And Last Days Of The War On Drugs (Book)

Heat (DVD)

Scarface (DVD)

To Die In Mexico: Dispatches From Inside The Drug War (Book)

Traffic (DVD)

–Scott P.


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New in SF/F: Sisters, Storms, and Song

Everything’s coming up sci-fi and fantasy on my reading list these days. Whenever I get frustrated with the world as it is, it cheers me up to spend time in the company of authors dedicated to imagining the world as it could be…or, arguably, should be.

Here are a few of the many fantastic–in multiple senses of the word–reads I’ve picked up from the Library this week.

Sisters of the RevolutionAnn and Jeff VanderMeer, eds.

The VanderMeers have a long track record of publishing excellent SF/F anthologies, and Sisters is no exception. This crowdfunded collection describes itself as Sisters of the Revolution. Click on image to reserve a library copy.“feminist speculative fiction,” and as such will appeal to anyone who enjoyed Octavia’s Brood or The Mammoth Book of SF Stories by Women. You might also want to try these stories on for size if you’re not sure about sci-fi, but are definitely interested in race, class, gender, motherhood, or any of feminism’s other concerns, and want to see how the genre handles them.

The collection is a healthy mix of material from the 1970s/80s and today, and includes work by Nnedi Okorafor, Angela Carter, Hiromi Goto, and James Tiptree Jr. (a/k/a Alice B. Sheldon). At least one reviewer has described the collection’s older stories as “cringe-worthy” in terms of expressing outdated attitudes. While keeping that in mind, it’s also possible to read the stories critically, with an eye to where women’s SF/F has been, and where it’s going. Available in print only (which is kind of ironic, but that’s the future for you).

Loosed Upon the World, John Joseph Adams, ed.

With a title drawn from W.B. Yeats’s famous poem “The Second Coming,” you know this anthology is going to be literally earthshaking. Adams delivers a a solid collection in the Loosed Upon the Worldrelatively new subgenre of climate fiction (Cli-fi, for short) featuring tales of environmental woe from Margaret Atwood, Paolo Bacigalupi, Seanan McGuire, and other contemporary luminaries. Though the premise behind the stories is pretty clear-cut–we broke the planet and now we must pay–the variety in the execution makes this collection seem like a bouquet of poisoned flowers: gorgeous, but deadly.

Cli-fi makes no bones about having an agenda, and the stories in this volume–published by Simon & Schuster’s SAGA imprint–point the finger at excessive consumerism, ignorance, and flawed public policy (among other things) as the reason for environmental catastrophe. Long on cautionary tale and short on solutions, this is a great read for passionate environmentalists, their skeptical opponents, and anyone who enjoys a good disaster flick.  I’d suggest pacing yourself, though: you’re reading fiction here, not watching the news. At least, not yet.

Last Song Before Night, Ilana C. Myer

Lin is an incredibly gifted musician in a world where women are forbidden to sing or play. Once upon a time she had another name, but she fled her family and her fate to follow her musical destiny. Once upon a far more distant time, Lin’s world was filled with magic, and musicians and poets could work wonders far beyond simply entertaining the masses. A terrible plague, unleashed by the quest for dark magic, put an end to all that. But now somebody’s trying to work dark magic again, which means Lin must venture to the Last Song Before Night - click URL to order from libraryOtherworld to bring back their ancient musical powers and save their culture…if she can.

Myer delivers high fantasy at its best, creating a world in which artistic skill and political savvy are equally valued (and having both certainly doesn’t hurt). Lin is a dauntless heroine who is willing to suffer an awful lot for a world that doesn’t appreciate her properly in the first place, if only because dark magic loosed upon the world would be an even more unpleasant alternative. Lin isn’t even sure the object of her quest, a legendary silver branch, actually exists; all she has is her teacher’s word. That’s still enough to send her and some of her fellow poets (think “frenemies”)off to seek it. It’s sort of like the Orpheus myth in reverse, except Eurydice might be a myth. While we’re gender-swapping things, don’t think the menfolk won’t learn a lesson or two about denying women their musical, magical birthright. Good stuff for folks who like their fantasy fiction with both melody and conscience.

It’s hard to keep up with the really avid SF/F fans and their serious reading addictions, but I’ll never stop trying. Where are my genre warriors and social justice mages? Sound off in the comments section if you’ve read any of these books, plan to read them, or have other suggestions you think the rest of the blog audience would enjoy.

–Leigh Anne


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