If you care about books, this Saturday, September 27th, is notable for a couple of reasons.
First, it’s the date of the 2008 National Book Festival in Washington, DC. I’ve never been to one of these, and I’d like to attend this one, but I’m not making myself any promises. For one thing, I think DC is supposed to be getting a lot of rain on Saturday, and I really can’t think of any authors I’d trudge around in the rain to see. Not any living authors, anyway.
The driving forces behind the Festival are, of course, the Library of Congress and Laura Bush. Over 70 authors are expected on the National Mall, to read, discuss and sign their works – including heavy-hitters like Salman Rushdie, Geraldine Brooks, Neil Gaiman, and Alexander McCall Smith.
For more info, see the Festival website. There’s also a National Book Festival Young Readers' Online Toolkit, which features a Hosting Guide with an overview of the site and ideas for holding local book festivals; an Author Details section including biographies and a “scoop” area that tells “the stories behind their stories”; and the 2008 National Book Festival Poster.
September 27th is also the first day of the American Library Association’s Banned Books Week (Celebrating the Right to Read). This is the 27th annual observance of the celebration, and it runs through October 4. The ALA has a Frequently Challenged Books webpage with various listings, including the Top 100 Challenged Books of 1990-1999 and 2000-2007. And there's a special Banned Books Week website, with information about local events around the country.
Some of my favorite books are among those listed as frequently banned. Huckleberry Finn, The Catcher in the Rye, To Kill a Mockingbird, Flowers for Algernon, The Handmaid's Tale. I suppose I can understand the reasoning there (though I would abhor it). But what about Where's Waldo?? Why the heck would anyone object to that? Obviously, I didn't pick up on the lewd, subversive undertones of the book. While I was ruining my eyesight, scanning every page for the little guy in the striped sweater, I was probably being corrupted and didn't even know it!