By Pam Stevens
Do you enjoy reading and talking about books? The Mira Mesa Library’s Banned Book Club, a book group with a “freedom to read” theme, meets the last Tuesday of each month (no meeting in December), 6:30pm to 8pm.
The book group began in September 2004, growing from an event at the Mira Mesa Branch Library during “Banned Books Week,” the American Library Association’s annual celebration of the freedom to read. The group reads and discusses banned or challenged classics (www.ala.org/advocacy/bbooks), as well as other thought-provoking titles. All are welcome, “regulars” as well as “drop-ins” for a particular title!
Here’s the complete list of books selected for discussion from October 2020 through August 2021:
October 27, 2020: “Short Stories of Edgar Allan Poe” – Read any Poe stories you’d like to share and discuss! The Masque of the Red Death? The Tell-Tale Heart? The Pit and the Pendulum? The Cask of Amontillado? The Murders in the Rue Morgue and/or The Purloined Letter, hailed as the first “detective stories,” even before Sherlock Holmes? The group will compare “The Fall of the House of Usher” and Ray Bradbury’s “Usher 2!”
November 24, 2020: A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeleine L’Engle. Classic children’s science fiction book, intriguing story for adults, too. Challenged for various reasons over the years since it was published in 1962.
January 26, 2021: The Fifth Heart, by Dan Simmons. Historical fiction, entertaining mystery in which Henry James (the 19th century author of Portrait of a Lady) and Sherlock Holmes (the fictional character) visit America in 1893 to investigate the “suicide” of Clover Adams, of the historic American Adams family.
February 23, 2021: Where the Crawdads Sing, by Delia Owens. 2018 novel which follows two timelines that slowly intertwine. Story involves an unforgettable young woman determined to make her way in the wilds of North Carolina, and the two men that will break her isolation open.
March 30, 2021: If On A Winter’s Night a Traveler, by Italo Calvini. A metafictional novel where the reader becomes a character who starts to read a book and later meet another character whom you fall in love with. The first part of each chapter is written in the second person (“you”) and examines the process of reading. In the second part of each chapter you start to read a new book you discover is related to the main narrative.
April 27, 2021: “Shakespeare’s Sonnets.” Read any sonnet(s) by William Shakespeare you’d like to share and discuss, in celebration of National Poetry Month!
May 25, 2021: They Called Us Enemy, by George Takei, Steven Scott, and Justin Eisinger, illustrated by Harmony Becker, Takei’s autobiography in graphic novel format, focusing on his childhood experiences with his family in Japanese-American internment camps during World War II. 2020 One Book, One San Diego title!
June 29, 2021: Dear Miss Breed, by Joanne Oppenheim. Subtitled, “True Stories of the Japanese American Incarceration During World War II and A Librarian Who Made A Difference,” this book tells about San Diego’s own Japanese-American internment experience. Clara Breed, children’s librarian at the San Diego Public Library in the early 1940s, provided a lifeline to Japanese-American children when they were taken away with their families by writing letters to them, and her young friends wrote back to her about their lives.
July 27, 2021: Gateway by Frederick Pohl. 1977 Hugo winner for science fiction, first “Heechee” novel by Pohl.
August 31, 2021: Winesburg, Ohio (A Group of Tales about Ohio Small-Town Life), by Sherwood Anderson.
September 28, 2021: Annual Title Selection Meeting. All are invited to help choose what to read and discuss!
The group is currently meeting via Zoom. For more information, email book group facilitator Pam Stevens, email@example.com, or call the Mira Mesa Branch Library, 858-538-8165.