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Tuesday News: Book banning backfires, Spain searches for Cervantes, Vikings are...

Parents call cops on teen for giving away banned book; it backfires predictably – This is both sad and amusing. Sherman Alexie’s National Book Award winner, 2007 YA novel The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian had been banned from an Idaho junior high school curriculum. In concert with a petition to reinstate the book, a local bookstore (Rediscovered Books – perfect name), worked with students to distribute copies of the book on World Book Night, “an initiative to turn reluctant young readers onto reading with free, super-readable books.” Until, that is, some parents call the police because they were concerned that the students receiving books did not have their parents’ permission. Even though the cops could do nothing, and the whole thing simply raised the profile of the idiotic ban.

Not only did [the giveaway] go as planned, but when Alexie’s publisher Hachette got word of the incident, they sent Rediscovered an additional 350 copies on the house. So while the book may still be banned in the school curriculum, it’s available free of cost for any kid who wants to stop into Rediscovered and pick one up. –Death and Taxes

Spain to search for author Miguel de Cervantes’ remains – Although Miguel de Cervantes is now considered one of the most important literary figures in Western history, the author of Don Quixote died in 1616, penniless and without fanfare. Records indicate the general location of his burial, but there is no extant gravesite, so forensic scientists are going to use radar devices to search for the body. The enterprise will cost about 100,000 euros ($138,000 US; £82,352) and is expected to take a few months to complete.

“The radar cannot tell you whether it is the body of the writer, but it can indicate the place of burial,” the expert leading the search, Luis Avial, told reporters on Friday.

“The geo-radar can tell us that location… then comes the delicate work,” he added, referring to the exhumation and identification process. –BBC News

Every Viking ‘Fact’ Is Wrong – I have to admit that the way the Anglo Saxon period is portrayed in Romance drives me up the freaking wall. And it doesn’t help that stereotypes abound inside and outside fiction. So I’m pretty excited about this new exhibit at British Museum of artifacts from the Viking Age, which is challenging many of the stereotypes and myths that prevail about that era. Although we generally accept that history is written by the victors, in this case it’s the opposite, and the upshot of that has been that the Vikings have been presented as bloodthirsty, uncivilized brutes, rather than successful traders who were pretty much on par with other groups for sheer awfulness and violence. Which is not to say that they were total peace-seeking people, and their involvement in the slave trade was certainly despicable. However, they were a far more varied and complex people than has generally been portrayed, as were so many of the groups that represent the roughly 600 years of Anglo-Saxon history.

It seems this was a rare era in which history was not written by the victors; mostly because the victors couldn’t write. It was left to monks and Christian churchmen to craft the only contemporary accounts of many of the Vikings’ raids, and Vikings did attack churches, which held no sacred mystique for them. They were simply seen as easy, wealthy targets, confounding local conventions of the time.

“These accounts are dressed up in the language of religious polemic,” Williams said. “Many [of the stories] were borrowed from earlier accounts—from classical antiquity. The violent reputation and particularly the reputation for atrocities was created then, but the Vikings were probably no worse than anyone else.” –The Daily Beast

15 Breathtaking Illustrations Of Fairy Tales From The 1920s – From Cinderella to Puss in Boots and Sleeping Beauty, these illustrations are really lovely.  –Buzzfeed

isn't sure if she's an average Romance reader, or even an average reader, but a reader she is, enjoying everything from literary fiction to philosophy to history to poetry. Historical Romance was her first love within the genre, but she's fickle and easily seduced by the promise of a good read. She approaches every book with the same hope: that she will be filled from the inside out with something awesome that she didnʼt know, didnʼt think about, or didnʼt feel until that moment. And she's always looking for the next mind-blowing read, so feel free to share any suggestions!

10 Comments

  1. Rosario
    Apr 29, 2014 @ 06:41:37

    I attended a live show of a sort of virtual tour of the Vikings exhibition at my local cinema last week, and it really looks fantastic. I’m hoping I’ll have a free afternoon or morning in London before it closes and will be able to go in person. Not sure if a recording of the live showing will be made available for purchase, but if it is, I highly recommend it.

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  2. Angela
    Apr 29, 2014 @ 07:07:41

    I would LOVE to go to that Viking exhibit! I’m with you, the portrayal of the Anglo-Saxon period in most books I’ve read drives me up the wall!

    And I’m loving the illustrations this morning.

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  3. Lorenda Christensen
    Apr 29, 2014 @ 08:20:28

    Geeze – math vs captcha…I’m not sure which is more difficult in the morning.

    I remember doing a report on the presence of Vikings in my hometown of Heavener, Oklahoma. There’s a park there called the Runestone that surrounds yep–a stone with runes on it that was believed to be inscribed by Vikings. That story has since been disproved, but no one really knows where the inscription came from. But it was the cause of my fascination with Vikings. I’d love to tour this exhibit.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heavener_Runestone

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  4. Julia Gabriel
    Apr 29, 2014 @ 08:28:13

    When I was in 8th grade, my English class was assigned to read Flowers for Algernon, which isn’t a terribly explicit book but has some themes of sexuality. The parents of two students in the class objected and after a week of debate by the school board, the book was taken away from the class. Of course, by that time we had all read it cover to cover — turns out the fastest way to get 8th graders to read an assigned book is to yell “sex!” and say the book is about to be taken away. And of course the local bookstore couldn’t keep the book in stock — everyone wanted to see what the fuss was. What those parents achieved was getting far more people to read Flowers for Algernon than ever would have if they hadn’t complained.

    (My parents weren’t concerned because by that point I already shared my mom’s addiction to Harlequin romances. :-)

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  5. Anna Richland
    Apr 29, 2014 @ 09:53:00

    I tried to see the Vikings telecast – but it didn’t seem to be playing here in the US, darn it! I’m so jealous. I’ve been reading tons about it – looks gorgeous. (And my link in my name goes to my facebook with a funny news snippet about the replica Viking ship sailing up the Thames, fyi – so wish I was in London for the Viking hoopla).

    Although it is history written by the victors, absolutely, b/c it was written down by an English monk, I highly HIGHLY recommend listening to the abridged audiobook version of Beowulf narrated by Seamus Heaney, the Irish poet. (skip the full length one narrated by a voice actor – go with Heaney’s Irish lilt). It’s his own translation and he owns the words – made me feel like I was sitting around a fire listening to a bard tell it. The first time I really “got” Beowulf.

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  6. LeeF
    Apr 29, 2014 @ 11:13:29

    Those fairy tale illustrations are charming!

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  7. Kathryn
    Apr 29, 2014 @ 11:27:20

    Would love to see the Viking exhibit — but not likely to be heading across the Atlantic any time soon.

    I taught an upper-level undergraduate history course on the Vikings for a couple years. The course was extremely popular — especially with male students. And so many were disappointed to find out that actually the Vikings were successful traders, farmers, and genealogists and not so much ravening unwashed berserkers. Just ruined that whole super-hero, video-game ideal.

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  8. Erin Satie
    Apr 29, 2014 @ 12:54:57

    I remember reading an interesting article about the spread of Arab coins (especially silver?) through the world, to track their trading. They found many thousands in Scandinavia.

    I wish I could remember this article better. It had tons of other neat facts in it–something to do with the way the value of silver varied according to location (because the Chinese used silver but not gold as currency? Maybe?).

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  9. azteclady
    Apr 29, 2014 @ 19:55:02

    Regarding the Vikings, I remember reading a couple of Johanna Lindsay’s Viking books, where a lot of emphasis is placed on their society as traders and explorers with complex mores–as opposed to mindless marauders. Yes, there was pillaging and what not, but still, a lot less Tony Curtiss/Kirk Douglas than one would have thought.

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  10. AJ
    Apr 29, 2014 @ 21:14:07

    @Julia Gabriel: completely off-topic but I just had to say how much I loved your footnote! I was reading my mom’s Harlequin’s in middle school too :) My dad wasn’t terribly pleased about it, but back in the 80s they weren’t terribly explicit, so he just frowned and called them “mind candy.” Brings back memories!

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