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Berkeley’s commercial district is mainly comprised of small, independently-owned shops; there’s actually a city law that caps the number of chain stores that can do business here.  I’ve spent many afternoons wandering in and out of shops on Telegraph or Shattuck browsing their curious wares, always looking for that dusty hidden treasure nestled in a corner somewhere.  Some of the best shops in Berkeley to peruse are its bookstores, which buy and sell new and used books of all kinds.

Moes Books makes an appearance in The Graduate when Dustin Hoffmans character travels to Berkeley.

Moe's Books on Telegraph makes an appearance in The Graduate (1967) when Dustin Hoffman's character travels to Berkeley.

“Moe’s moved to Telegraph Avenue just in time for the Free Speech Movement.  During the Vietnam protests, Telegraph became the flashpoint for numerous run-ins with the police and national guard. When curfews were called by the authorities, Moe would refuse to close his doors, saying people were free to walk on the streets. An occasional tear gas canister would roll down the street and many protesters took refuge in the store.”

Moe’s Books

I still pass Moes on my way to class every morning.  Next year will be their 50th year of business.

I still pass Moe's on my way to class every morning. Next year will be their 50th year of business.

While Moe’s gets top marks for having four floors of books on virtually any subject you can think of, and is certainly a Telegraph Avenue landmark, Half Price Books on Shattuck is my favorite bookstore in Berkeley to buy books from.  Although HPB is a chain store (I was quite sad when I found out), it is the literature equivalent of Berkeley Bowl, with quality books at shockingly low prices.  HPB is housed in the historical Kress Building on the corner of Shattuck and Addison.

The Kress Building in 1933.

The Kress Building in 1933.

Today, the Kress Building houses Half Price Books, a jazz school, and a theare company.

Today, the Kress Building houses Half Price Books, a jazz school, and a theare company.

Today, the Kress Building houses Half Price Books, a jazz school, and a theatre company.

I always go into HPB with an open mind and come out with a great find or two.  A few buys I’m particularly proud of:

$5.00.

America, The Book. Hardcover. Retail: $24.98. HPB: $5.00.

$7.00.

Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking. Hardcover. Retail: $15.99. HPB: $7.00.

The Godfather. Paperback. Retail: $15.00. HPB: $4.00.

$3.50.

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Paperback. Retail: $7.99. HPB: $3.50.

HPB’s stock is discounted because it’s usually overstock or very, very gently used books.  Most of the time, you can’t even tell they’ve been read, and adding an inexpensive book is a great way to personalize a gift.  I’m a bookworm, though, so most of the books I buy here are for me.  I go about once a month, and treat myself to any one book I want.  Getting a new book can make a bad day better, and a little literacy never hurt anyone.

Well, almost never.

Well, almost never, according to this Threadless shirt.

Half Price Books

2036 Shattuck Ave
Berkeley, CA 94704
(510) 526-6080

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This list is a follow-up to my earlier article on Time’s recommended list of 10 banned books.  If you’re still shaking your head over how books like Nineteen Eighty-Four and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn that challenged the status quo and are now considered literary classics were actually banned at some point as being dangerous for young minds, take a look at what books are being challenged today.  (Oh wait, Huck Finn is still on this list and being challenged 120 years later.)

The following list was taken from the American Library Association’s compilation of the 10 most challenged books of 2007.  Challenges are culled from newspapers nationwide and from personal complaints filed with the ALA.  (The ALA estimates that for every 1 challenge recorded, there are 4 to 5 that go unreported.)  Keep in mind that while a challenge is not a ban, it is essentially an endorsement for one.

Without further ado, a countdown of the top 10 books that are allegedly poisoning the minds of young people today:

10.The Perks of Being a Wallflower: Stephen Chbosky

What it’s about: “The story takes place in a suburb of Pittsburgh during the 1991-1992 school year, when Charlie is a high school freshman. Charlie is the wallflower of the novel. He is an unconventional thinker, and as the story begins he is shy and unpopular.

The story explores topics such as introversion, teenage sexuality, abuse, and the awkward times of adolescence. The book also touches strongly on drug use and Charlie’s experiences with this. As the story progresses, various works of literature and film are referenced and their meanings discussed.” (Wikipedia)

Why it’s being challenged: “Homosexuality, Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group.”

9. It’s Perfectly Normal: Robie Harris

What it’s about: “Frank yet playful, [this book] portrays a reassuring array of body types and ethnic groups…allowing readers to come away with a healthy respect for their bodies and a better understanding of the role that sexuality plays in the human experience.

Birth control, abortion, and homosexuality are given an honest, evenhanded treatment, noting differing views and recommending further discussion with a trusted adult. The dangers of STDs, teen parenthood, and sexual abuse are examined.” (School Library Journal)

Why it’s being challenged: “Sex Education, Sexually Explicit.”

8. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings: Maya Angelou

What it’s about: “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings is a 1969 autobiography about the early years of author Maya Angelou’s life. [It] begins when three-year-old Angelou and her older brother are sent to Stamps, Arkansas to live with their grandmother and ends when Angelou becomes a mother at age seventeen years old.

The author uses her coming-of-age story to illustrate the ways in which racism and trauma can be overcome by a strong character and a love of literature.” (Wikipedia)

Why it’s being challenged: “Sexually Explicit.

7. ttyl: Lauren Myracle

What it’s about: “An epistolary novel [crafted] entirely out of IM transcripts between three high-school girls. Far from being precious, the format proves perfect for accurately capturing the sweet histrionics and intimate intricacies of teenage girls.

Myracle’s triumph comes in leveraging the language-stretching idiom of e-mail, text messaging, and IM. Reaching to express themselves, the girls communicate almost as much through punctuation and syntactical quirks as with words.(Amazon.com Editorial Review)

Why it’s being challenged: “Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group.”

6. The Color Purple: Alice Walker

What it’s about: “The Color Purple is an acclaimed 1982 epistolary novel by American author Alice Walker. It received the 1983 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the National Book Award.

Taking place mostly in rural Georgia, the story focuses on female African American life during the 1930s in the Southern United States, addressing the numerous issues in the black female life, including their exceedingly low position in American social culture.” (Wikipedia)

Why it’s being challenged: “Homosexuality, Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language.”

5. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain

What it’s about: “The drifting journey of Huck and his friend Jim, a runaway slave, down the Mississippi River on their raft may be one of the most enduring images of escape and freedom in all of American literature.  By satirizing Southern antebellum society that was already a quarter-century in the past by the time of publication, the book is an often scathing look at entrenched attitudes, particularly racism. ” (Wikipedia)

Why it’s being challenged: “Racism.” (Oh irony.)

4. The Golden Compass, Philip Pullman

What it’s about: “The Golden Compass tells of Lyra Belacqua’s journey north in search of her missing friend, Roger Parslow, and her imprisoned father, Lord Asriel, who has been conducting experiments with a mysterious substance known as Dust.  Both the trilogy and the film adaptation have faced controversy, as some critics assert that the story presents a negative portrayal of the Church and religion.” (Wikipedia)

Why it’s being challenged: “Religious Viewpoint.”

3. Olive’s Ocean: Kevin Henkes

What it’s about: “Twelve-year-old Martha Boyle stands on the brink of discovery: about her family, about first love, and mostly about herself. Martha is given a journal entry from her classmate, Olive, who was killed in an automobile accident. Martha didn’t really know Olive, but the journal entry makes Martha reflect on what might have been if Olive hadn’t died. In her two weeks on Cape Cod, Martha learns to deal with the changing emotional landscape that comes with adolescence.” (AudioFile)

Why it’s being challenged: “Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language.

2. The Chocolate War: Robert Cormier

What it’s about: “Set at the fictional Trinity High School, the story follows protagonist Jerry Renault as he challenges the school’s cruel, brutal, and ugly mob rule. Because of the novel’s language, the concept of a high school’s secret society using intimidation to enforce the cultural norms of the school, and the protagonist’s sexual ponderings, it has been the frequent target of censors.” (Wikipedia)

Why it’s being challenged: “Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Violence.”

1. And Tango Makes Three: Justin Richardson, Peter Parnell

What it’s about: “The book is based on the true story of Roy and Silo, two male Chinstrap Penguins in New York’s Central Park Zoo who for six years formed a couple. Roy and Silo hatched and raised the healthy young chick, a female named “Tango” by keepers, together as a family.

This book aims to send the reader the message that it is okay to be in, or know someone who has, a “non-traditional” family.” (Wikipedia)

Why it’s being challenged: “Anti-Ethnic, Sexism, Homosexuality, Anti-Family, Religious Viewpoint, Unsuited to Age Group.”

For those of you counting, “Sexually Explicit” was the biggest reason a book was challenged in 2007, with 7/10 books falling under that category; “Offensive Language” came in second with 5/10 books; and “Homosexuality” and “Unsuited to Age Group” tied for third with 3/10 books.

If you’re wondering who challenges these books, the ALA has compiled the following graph of challenges by initiator from 2000-2005.  Parents lead by nearly four times the challenges as the next group.  Particularly troubling is the inclusion of elected officials and government as active challenging parties.

Click picture for link to original PDF.

Click picture for link to original PDF.

I have a few thoughts of my own about this list from the ALA, such as Since when is “Homosexuality” a reason to ban any book?, Why are my elected officials campaigning for the banning of books?, and Have these challengers of literature checked out what their kids have been watching on TV for the past decade? I’d like to hear your thoughts.

Time magazine recently came out with a list of their recommendations of the top 10 banned books to read.  I think it’s pretty solid.  Here’s a preview of the article; click on any book to read the full story:

Candide (Voltaire)

Candide (Voltaire)

In a nutshell: “This classic French satire lampoons all things sacred — armies, churches, philosophers, even the doctrine of optimism itself.”

Intriguing quote: “The effect is equal parts hilarious and shocking. (Imagine Monty Python circa 1759).”

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Mark Twain)

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Mark Twain)

In a nutshell: “Critics deemed Mark Twain’s use of common vernacular (slang) demeaning and damaging.”

Intriguing quote: “In an attempt to avoid controversy, CBS Television produced a made-for-TV adaptation of the book in 1955 that lacked a single mention of slavery, or even any African American cast members to portray the character of Jim.”

Brave New World (Aldous Huxley)

Brave New World (Aldous Huxley)

In a nutshell:  “Huxley’s 1932 work — about a drugged, dull and mass-produced society of the future — has been challenged for its themes of sexuality, drugs, and suicide.”

Intriguing quote: “In Huxley’s vision of the 26th century, Henry Ford is the new God (worshipers say “Our Ford” instead of “Our Lord,”) and the car maker’s concept of mass production has been applied to human reproduction.”

Nineteen Eighty-Four (George Orwell)

Nineteen Eighty-Four (George Orwell)

In a nutshell: “[Nineteen Eighty-Four] chronicles the grim future of a society robbed of free will, privacy or truth.”

Intriguing quote: “Oddly enough, parents in Jackson County, Fla. would challenge the book in 1981 for being “pro-Communist.” (Did they even read it?)

The Catcher in the Rye (J.D. Salinger)

The Catcher in the Rye (J.D. Salinger)

In a nutshell: “Literary critics have both hailed and assailed the novel, which broke the literary mold with its focus on character development rather than plot. Holden Caulfield, the novel’s protagonist, has since become a symbol of adolescent angst.”

Intriguing quote: “The book introduced slang expressions like the term “screw up” (as in, “Boy, it really screws up my sex life something awful.”)”

Lolita (Vladmir Nabokov)

Lolita (Vladmir Nabokov)

In a nutshell: “This 1955 novel explores the mind of a self-loathing and highly intelligent pedophile named Humbert Humbert, who narrates his life and the obsession that consumes it: his lust for “nymphets” like 12-year-old Dolores Haze.”

Intriguing quote: “[Lolita was] first published in France by a pornographic press.”

I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings (Maya Angelou)

I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings (Maya Angelou)

In a nutshell: “This 1970 memoir angered censors for its graphic depiction of racism and sex, especially the passages in which she recounts being raped by her mother’s boyfriend as an eight-year-old child.”

Intriguing quote: “The American Library Association ranked it the 5th most challenged book of the 21st century.”

The Anarchist Cookbook (William Powell)

The Anarchist Cookbook (William Powell)

In a nutshell: “Powell was just 19 when he wrote this 1971 cult classic. The guerrilla how-to book managed to not only anger government officials, but anarchist groups as well.”

Intriguing quote: “Other critics attacked the book for more practical reasons — some of the bomb-making recipes that Powell included turned out to be dangerously inaccurate.”

The Satanic Verses (Salman Rushdie)

The Satanic Verses (Salman Rushdie)

In a nutshell: “This book sparked riots across the world for what some called a blasphemous treatment of the Islamic faith.”

Intriguing quote: “Iranian spiritual leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini put a $1 million bounty on [Rushdie’s] head; Venezuelan officials threatened anyone who owned or read the book with 15 months of prison; a Japanese translator was stabbed to death for his involvement with the book; Walden Books and Barnes & Noble removed the book from shelves after receiving death threats; under the protection of British authorities, Rushdie himself lived in hiding for nearly a decade.””

Ill leave the last book on the list as a surprise.

Can you guess what the last book is?

I’ll leave the last book on the list as a surprise.

Looking back, it seems almost unbelievable that these books, many of which are now regarded as classics, were once banned or continue to be challenged.  Wondering where your favorite book is on the list?  Take a look at the ALA’s list of the 100 Most Frequently Challenged Books of 1990-2000.  Want to know what modern-day books are causing a stir?  Check out part 2 of my post on Banned Books Week, featuring the 10 most challenged books of 2006, coming soon.

John recently gave me the most excellent book for my birthday.  It’s called This Book Will Change Your Life, and it’s full of 365 bold and daring things to do.  The idea is that by the end of one year, you’ll be a completely fascinating person.  Here are the first six days of tasks so that you can get started:

Warm-up  As this is your first day, you should warm up with an easy task that will only change your life a little bit.  Choose one of the following options.

Day 1: Warm-up. As this is your first day, you should warm up with an easy task that will only change your life a little bit. Choose one of the following options.

The love of your life  Today, gaze at everyone wondering whether they might be the one true love of your life, the one destined for you and you alone, and whether you might be passing them by forever...Act in consequence.

Day 2: The love of your life. Today, gaze at everyone wondering whether they might be the one true love of your life, the one destined for you and you alone, and whether you might be passing them by forever...Act in consequence.

Today throw something away that you like.

Day 3: Today throw something away that you like.

(Green) Been there done that (Blue) Intend to go there this year (Yellow) Intend to go there sometime before I die (Red) Happy never to set foot there in my whole life.

Day 4: World coloring-in day. Today, work out your globetrotting plans for the rest of your time on earth, and get on the phone to an accredited travel agent. NB: the State Dept. currently discourages travel to the following countries: Afghanistan, Iraq, North Korea, Turkmenistan, Zimbabwe, North Yemen. Fill in country by country: (Green) Been there done that; (Blue) Intend to go there this year; (Yellow) Intend to go there sometime before I die; (Red) Happy never to set foot there in my whole life.

elevators, garbage trucks, cranes, phone booths, toilets, ventilation units, escalators, entrances to subway stations. The aim is to achieve comprehensive social breakdown across the US.

Day 5: Mass social experiment. Cut out and stick this sign on any item of public infrastructure you might encounter today, including, but not limited to: elevators, garbage trucks, cranes, phone booths, toilets, ventilation units, escalators, entrances to subway stations. The aim is to achieve comprehensive social breakdown across the US.

Today write the opening sentence of your debut novel

Day 6: Today write the opening sentence of your debut novel.

You can purchase this life-changing book on Amazon for $12.24.