Banned Books Week September 25 – October 1, 2016

bbw-logo122hBanned Books Week is a Celebration of the Freedom to Read. It was launched in 1982 in response to a surge in the number of challenges to books in schools, bookstores and libraries.

According to the American Library Association, more than 11,300 books have been challenged since 1982 . The top ten most challenged books of 2015 include:

  1. Looking for Alaska, by John Green
    Reasons: Offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited for age group.
  2. Fifty Shades of Grey, by E. L. James
    Reasons: Sexually explicit, unsuited to age group, and other (“poorly written,” “concerns that a group of teenagers will want to try it”).
  3. I Am Jazz, by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings
    Reasons: Inaccurate, homosexuality, sex education, religious viewpoint, and unsuited for age group.
  4. Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out, by Susan Kuklin
    Reasons: Anti-family, offensive language, homosexuality, sex education, political viewpoint, religious viewpoint, unsuited for age group, and other (“wants to remove from collection to ward off complaints”).
  5. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, by Mark Haddon
    Reasons: Offensive language, religious viewpoint, unsuited for age group, and other (“profanity and atheism”).
  6. The Holy Bible
    Reasons: Religious viewpoint.
  7. Fun Home, by Alison Bechdel
    Reasons: Violence and other (“graphic images”).
  8. Habibi, by Craig Thompson
    Reasons: Nudity, sexually explicit, and unsuited for age group.
  9. Nasreen’s Secret School: A True Story from Afghanistan, by Jeanette Winter
    Reasons: Religious viewpoint, unsuited to age group, and violence.
  10. Two Boys Kissing, by David Levithan
    Reasons: Homosexuality and other (“condones public displays of affection”).

The Banned Books Week Coalition is a national alliance of diverse organizations joined by a commitment to increase awareness of the annual celebration of the freedom to read. The Coalition seeks to engage various communities and inspire participation in Banned Books Week through education, advocacy, and the creation of programming about the problem of book censorship. The 2016 celebration will be held September 25-October 1.

For more information, check out, and why not celebrate by stopping into your local library, and check out one of the books on the list.


Are you into movies, games, fun and the occasional 140 character complaint? Then follow me on Twitter, @JeffMMcKinney.

More Star Wars News! ‘Star Wars: Aftermath’ Novel Announced

Today, I have info about another Star Wars publishing project that is also part of the Journey to Star Wars program.

On Monday, I blogged about the recently announced, new Star Wars comic book in the “Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens” initiative. Today, I have info about another Star Wars publishing project that is also part of Journey –  Star Wars: Aftermath.

Aftermath is a novel, and reportedly, the first book in a trilogy. The story picks up immediately after the Battle of Endor and, like the comic, tells us what happened after the movie, Return of the Jedi.


Here’s some info from, “The second Death Star has been destroyed. Rumors are flying that the Emperor and his enforcer, Darth Vader, are dead. A new government is forming to replace the Empire. But the galaxy is a big place, and the fallout of this cataclysm will affect different worlds in different ways. Does everyone accept the fall of Imperial rule? Has everyone even heard the life-altering news? What rushes in to fill the vacuum the Empire has left? And who will try to stop them?

Aftermath will be written by Chuck Wendig and published by Del Rey. The book is scheduled to be available this September. With the new movie, Force Awakens, opening in December, I wish the book was coming out sooner. Two months is not enough time to read three books.

Follow me on Twitter, @jeffmmckinney, for more Star Wars talk.

popOmatic Reviews: The Year Of The Flood by Margaret Atwood

The Year Of The Flood by Margaret Atwood is the second book in what is reported to be a trilogy called the MaddAddam Trilogy. The trilogy began with 2003’s Oryx and Crake and continues with 2009’s The Year of the Flood. According to Atwood, the third book will delve into the story of the Madd Addam group, who are mentioned in booth Oryx and Flood. As of now, no release date has been given for the third book.  While many people say you don’t have to read the books in order, I think you will get a lot more out of Flood if you read Oryx first. With that said, I liked Flood better than Oryx and am looking forward to the next book whenever it comes out.

Flood takes place during the same time period as Oryx but follows the lives of two women–Toby and Ren–rather than the main character (Snowman aka Jimmy) of Oryx. The book is written from each character’s perspective and switches back and forth among the two, chapter to chapter. Toby and Ren’s stories give us a lot more detail and specifics as to what life was like immediately before and after “The Flood”. Their lives converge and separate throughout the book until ultimately meeting up again, finding Jimmy and telling us what happened to Jimmy after Oryx. Pulling Jimmy into the end of Flood is why I think you should read these books in the order that they were published, starting with Oryx and Crake.

I love Margaret Atwood’s style of writing. It’s a little more poetic than straightforward narrative but you still get a very clear picture of the world, people and events that she has created. That world and many of its people are depressing and unlikable and this is a frightening apocalyptic story because it sounds so possible. While the subject matter is depressing–the collapse of civilization due to a man-made plague–Atwood’s story-telling doesn’t leave you feeling bummed out after reading it.

If you are looking for a well-written and highly enjoyable apocalypse story, then you will probably enjoy reading both Oryx & Crake and The Year of the Flood.

Hey, are you on Twitter? So am I! Lets follow each other, @JeffMMcKinney

popOmatic Reviews: The Eleventh Plague by Jeff Hirsch

Zombie-Lit, Post Apocalyptic and Dystopian Future are my favorite genre of books, which is why I’m thrilled that so many people are writing books with these themes. The Eleventh Plague by Jeff Hirsch is the latest dystopian future book that I have read and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Following is my Spoiler Free review.

The Eleventh Plague takes place in the near future and is set in the former United States of America. North America has been ravaged by a plague created by China as the final volley in an ever-escalating war. Most of the population is dead, the government is gone and the former states are populated by scavengers, slavers and small towns of people trying to survive and create a new society. The book is written from the perspective of a 15-year-old boy names Stephen, who traverses the country with his dad looking for items to trade in order to survive.

At first, The Eleventh Plague reminded me too much of The Road by Cormac McCarthy. I was worried that is was going to be YA retelling of McCarthy’s depressing and disturbing story. But the Plague’s father and son team quickly took a different path and left The Road behind as this adventure set out into new territory.  The story got a little slow in the middle but once the action returned, it was almost non-stop until the last page.

The Eleventh Plague is relatively light and not too violent, considering the genre and subject matter. It was a quick read that took me about two days to complete. If you like Dystopian stories that won’t completely depress you than you will probably enjoy this book. If you are looking for something that is more survivalistic or heavy, then I wouldn’t recommend it.

The World Will Be Watching The Hunger Games

One of the most anticipated and most discussed movies of the year, The Hunger Games, opens tonight at midnight. Movie theaters and fans are gearing up for what will probably be a costume-crazed orgy of excitement on a par with the movies’ actual Hunger Games.

I picked up “The Hunger Games”, the first book of three, last year when I had nothing else to read and some dreaded air-travel to get through. I wasn’t expecting much but I needed something and figured this would be better than flipping through Sky Mall for three hours. I started reading the book at the gate and was almost done by the time my flight landed. It was the epitome of a page-turner and I loved every word of it! I loved the book so much that I bought the second book, “Catching Fire”, for my return flight and hadn’t even been home 24 hours before I ran out to buy the third book, “Mockingjay”.

The books are set in a bleak future where once a year, underprivileged teenagers are picked by lottery and thrown into an arena where they have to kill each other for the amusement of the privileged class. The story (which starts in book one and ends in book three) is riveting, suspenseful, gory and highly entertaining.

I’ll be at one of those midnight screenings tonight (not in costume) so I’ll tell you tomorrow if the movie does the book justice.


popOmatic Reviews: The Road

We haven’t done a book club post in a while so I thought I’d check in with you to find out what you are reading at the moment. Sorry Jess, I know how you hate reading.

The-roadAfter years of sitting on my “To Read” list, I finally started “The Road” by Cormac McCarthy. The Road is a cheerful tale of a man and his son’s struggle to stay alive in a charred and decimated world (I haven’t gotten to the part where they fully explain what destroyed the Earth yet) as they travel down a road looking for greener less grey pastures.  This post-apocalyptic fiction is right up my alley since, as most of the people who know me can attest to, I’m frequently thinking about surviving the zombie-ocalpse when the dead come back to life and feed on the living. When we left NYC and bought our house in the country, one of the selling features was the property’s defendable potential.

I’m picking up a lot of great tips and suggestions from The Road, such as the importance of stocking up on canned goods, good walking shoes and other sundries. Also, never underestimate the importance of a good shopping cart and tarp. If you haven’t read this book yet and enjoy depressing tales of survival then The Road is a must read for you.

What about you? Have you read anything good lately?

Cheap Books At Bargain Books

How are you doing on your Summer reading list? I’ve still got a sizable stack next to my bed but I’m always looking for new books to add to the pile. currently has a great Bargain Book section with three pages of books in the Under $5 category.

I just ordered I Am America (And So Can You!) by Stephen Colbert from the Under $10 section.

You can check out all the bargain books by clicking here.