It’s Banned Books Week — time to celebrate your right to read Women in Love, Ulysses, and other notables from the ALA’s list of banned or challenged books. Though, according to the Wall Street Journal, this is a whole lotta hoo-ha over nothing.
Koa Beck’s father gave her a copy of Erica Jong’s Fear of Flying when she was 15 years old. Depending on your persuasion, this was either a brilliant idea or an awful parental blunder. Regardless, Beck says the book (aided by The Bell Jar and Diary of a Mad Housewife) helped her understand that “the game was rigged, that everyone was lying, [and] that there was so much more to being a woman than what society said there was.”
It’s easy to forget that traders and travelers a millennium ago were as tongue-tied in foreign countries as college backpackers are today. How convenient for Silk Road travels, then, to have had a phrasebook translating between languages like Sanskrit, Tibetan, and Mandarin Chinese.
In a digital age, what’s the point of handwriting? It may seem like there isn’t much point to honing one’s penmanship these days. In Hazlitt, Navneet Alang suggests that handwriting, far from being a lost art, is in fact a “useful alchemy” that retains particular uses. You could also read our own Kevin Hartnett on writing by hand.
Nathaniel Philbrick answers the question Why Read Moby-Dick: “the level of the language is like no other,” but also “it’s as close to being our American Bible as we have.”