Category Archives: Reading

alice in wonderland

5 Books you Wont Believe were Banned

Alice in Wonderland (1865)

alice in wonderland

Everyone knows the story of the girl who fell down the rabbit hole, but I wonder how many people know why the book was banned in a province in China.

In the book was banned in the Hunan Province in 1931 because it the audacity to have acting at the same level of intelligence as human beings. The regions censor General was of the opinion that allowing animals not only to speak, but to wear hats was an insult to humans everywhere. He feared that the book would have the disastrous result of leading children to treat humans and animals similarly.

 

Green Eggs and Ham (1960)

green eggs and ham

Who would have thought that a book containing just 50 different words [1] could be so controversial?

The 4th best-selling English children’s book of all time was banned in the People’s Republic of China because, and this is good, because of its portrayal of Marxism. Not only was the author so clever as to hide his insidious message of a socio-political view of socio-economic analysis based on a materialist understanding of historical progress and an analysis of class-relations within humanity and their application in a critique of the growth of capitalism, but to do it all with less than 50 words. Brilliant

The censors did eventually lift the ban almost 30 years later in 1991 after the offensive author known simply as Dr Seuss passed away.

 

Diary of Anne Frank (1947)

Diary of Anne Frank

This one is by far the most disgusting on this list, as the diary of a 13 year old Jewish girl who hid from the Nazis for two years only to be caught and die in a concentration camp was banned in Lebanon for “Portraying  Jews, Israel or Zionism favourably”, and remains banned to this day.

Other stories on the list because of this reason include “Schindlers List” and “Sophie’s Choice”[2]

 

The Da Vinci Code (2003)

the da vinci code

This book remains banned in Lebanon after the Catholic leaders in the country deemed it to be offensive to Christianity due to the inaccuracies that were rife throughout the book. Apparently this work of fiction was slanderous enough for a spokesman for the Vatican itself to speak out against the book, slamming its multitude of historical and cultural errors and demanding Christians everywhere boycott the book and the movie. After seeing the movie, I feel this is perhaps the one time I should have listened to the advice of the church.

 

Catcher in the Rye (1951)

 the catcher in the rye

J. D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye was banned in various places around the world including Australia, because it main character Holden Caulfield displayed all the characteristics that authorities hated, he drank, he smoke, and worst of all, he blasphemed!

At this time in Australia, the name of banned books were not released to the public, the books were simply seized on entry to the country.

One day, the kind Ambassador from the United States, as a good will gesture, proudly presented copies of the book to a number Australian diplomats and politicians as an example of the fine literature that was coming out of his country [3].

When this small snafu became public, there was a fair amount of public outrage, and eventually led to an overhaul of the entire censorship system in Australia, as well as the quiet unbanning of the book.

 

Sources
[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Green_Eggs_and_Ham#Lexicon
[2]http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124113399848475095.html
[3] http://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/books/array-of-banned-books-shows-australia-on-a-more-innocent-page-20130125-2dc3y.html#ixzz2MjmrH3M7

5 Books you won’t believe were Banned.

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Supporting Your Local Book Shops

compare book prices old booksAs we look back on the recently finished independent booksellers week and all the press that it gathered, we have to look at ourselves as an online book and textbook retail and ask ourselves are we damaging local bookshops. Personally I have some very mixed feelings about this. I used to be an owner of a small bookshop that dealt mostly in second hand books, and I was, as most people are very proud of my little store. But over the last 10 years with the meteoric rise of the Internet, I found it harder and harder to keep my little shop afloat in a world that seems more than eager to move online and away from the local bookstore.

As much as I want to, I don’t blame people for not shopping locally, as even I have moved on to this wonderful World Wide Web where I can get all my literary needs for about half the price of what I would pay at a local bookstore. Even the major retailers are moving the majority of their business online, as the simple cost of maintaining a brick and mortar store becomes harder and harder to keep up with. When my store was on the verge of shutting down I raved and ranted at the major retailers, at Amazon and just that anyone who would stand still for long enough, I was angry but I didn’t know who to be angry at.

It seems perverse from me, someone who works for a website that sells books solely over the Internet, to try and tell people that they should be supporting their local bookstore’s, undo. Scratch that, it is perverse and entirely hypocritical, but I’m going to do it anyway and here’s why. People have been decrying that the end of books is nigh on the age of the digital media is already here, but let’s be honest who doesn’t prefer the feel of a good honest book in their hands over holding a tablet or ereader. My eyes still gets sore after only an hour or two squinting at my iPad or Kindle. There is no real substitute physical book.

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So while books are here to stay to just a little bit longer, so too should your local bookstore. But bookstores in your local area need to realise that they simply can’t compete with the prices of books online and need to act accordingly. Local bookstore’s need to play to their strengths, let people come in sit down somewhere and read a chapter or two, offered them a free drink of tea or coffee and employ reasonable intelligence staff that no when people want help and when people just want to be left alone.

One of the best ideas that I’ve ever seen is from the one remaining second hand bookstore in my area. They offer a box of free lollipops that sit next to a box of free children’s books, and while the books are necessarily in the best condition, the kids don’t care they have a lolly and something to read.

There is no online substitute for a real honest to goodness community fall of knowledgeable welcoming people.

The Picture of Dorian Gray

Oscar Wilde

Oscar Wilde

Oscar Fingal O’Flahertie Wills Wilde, born on the 16th of October 1854 in Dublin, Ireland, is only second to Shakespeare as the most oft quoted author in the English speaking world. His razor sharp wit combined with his majestically elegant prose to tell us some of the greatest stories of all time.

He was a voracious playwright, but to many his greatest work outside of plays is undoubtedly his only novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray. Dorian Gray is the story of a young man who sells his soul away for the promise of eternal youth and perpetual beauty. Told with Wilde’s fantastic wit and magical prose, the book caused a national outrage when it was first published in 1890, for the hedonism and  decadence contained in the novel as well as its supposed homosexual overtones, even though the 1890 version was censored heavily before it was ever printed.

Sadly, this grand book spurred many members of the public to attack Wilde and his  “homosexual agenda”, leading to the arrest of Mr Wilde and his good friend and supposed lover Alfred Taylor in 1895 for Sodomy and Gross Indecency. Wilde was sentenced to 2 years hard labour. During his time in jail performing hard labour, he passed out and ruptured his ear drum upon the chapel floor, an injury that is said to have lead directly to his contracting cerebral meningitis and subsequent death a few years later.

When Oscar Wilde died in Paris in 1900, he died completely destitute and penniless.

When you compare books written today to Mr Wilde’s writing you will find that his writing stands up remarkably well, a good hundred years after they were written, which cannot be said for all of the work to come out of that time.

The Picture of Dorian Gray
The Picture of Dorian Gray

Any modern assessment of the man is sure to mention his great charm and incredible wit, but he was so much more than a clever man with a flair for writing. He created some of the most memorable and colorful characters in modern literary history. His willingness to play and venture into the worlds of the heretofore unknown have rightfully earned him a place in the history books as one of the greatest authors, not only of his time, but of all time.

Whilst his writing can seem somewhat impenetrable and obtuse, with a little persistence many modern readers find that with a bit of help, the efforts required to fall in love with the man are more than worth the time invested.

He was probably the first man to be tried and sentenced by an angry public, spurred on by a media with an agenda. The public fury whipped up against him mighty pall to what seems so regular today, but his sexual proclivities made him a pariah, and in histories eyes, perhaps a venerable one.

Bill_bryson_a_short_history of nearly everything

10 Books Every Man Should Read

Being a man means so much more than the ability to grow hair on your chest and nether bits. To some, being a man means having the knowledge and ability to be able to and fight for what you believe in, to stand up for those who can’t. To others, it means being able to smoke a cigar and enjoy a fine whiskey. To me, being a man means being comfortable with who I am. These are ten books that helped me decide who I am as a man.

1984 Cover1984 – George Orwell

If this book does not change the way you look at your life and your Government, then nothing will. George Orwell wrote 1984 in 1949, but bar a few dated references, this could have been written yesterday as a commentary on the world that we live in today. Once you finish 1984, pick up Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, whichever you like more, you will not look at the world the same way.

 

On the Road – Jack Kerouac 

Love it or hate it, On the Road is the diary of a generation. Kerouac’s novel is the perfect journal of the beat generation who, sick of living in the suburbs, threw off the 9 to 5 shackles and got On the Road.

 

Bill_bryson_a_short_history of nearly everythingA Short History of Nearly Everything – Bill Bryson

This is, as the name suggests, a short history of quite a lot of things. Things such as the Earth, the solar system, the Universe, the Big Bang, the human Body, ecology, zoology, physics, chemistry. Like it says, nearly everything. Delivered with Bill Bryson’s clever humor and wit, this is the only way I have ever read about physics and actually enjoyed it.

Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad

This is one of those books that you simply must read if you want to consider yourself an educated man. Heart of Darkness is the story of British Imperialism vs. the “Savages” of Africa and the institutionalised racism of colonialism that made it all possible. It takes the reader on a journey downwards, downwards towards the madness and inner turmoil that exists in every one of us. Heart of Darkness is one of the few books to ever make me genuinely uncomfortable about myself, but got re-read nonetheless.

Slaughterhouse five coverSlaughterhouse Five – Kurt Vonnegut

Vonnegut has to have a place on this list somewhere, let us give his masterpiece number 5 on the list.  Slaughterhouse Five is ostensibly about war. It asks why we as humans feel the need to destroy whenever we are given the chance. It ponders what it might be like to be of those that we are told to hate. It tells us that any which way we justify war is just as absurd as another.

Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov

This book is almost always dismissed as being perverted pornography, but that could not be farther from the truth. It deals with a highly unpleasant subject, paedophilia. But it is so much more than just a porno book for pervs. It is a wonderfully written book that is designed to make you uncomfortable, that is designed to make you question certain things that you know to be true, to delve into the darkest places of the human psyche. Being an adult means being exposed to things that you don’t like, Lolita will certainly do that, but it does it with wit and humour to make this dark trip just that little bit easier.

all quiet on the western front book coverAll Quiet on the Western Front – Erich Maria Remarque

To me this is the single most heartbreaking book on earth. Every child on earth that plays Call of Duty or Battlefield video games should be forced to read this book first. War is not a game, and All Quiet on the Western Front tells the real story of war. The gruesome, depressing, utter hopelessness of the “Adventure” of man murdering his fellow man.

Tasting Beer: An Insider’s Guide to the World’s Greatest Drink

This is all getting a bit depressing, so let’s loosen things up. You are a man, you should know not only how to drink and enjoy a beer, but to be able to tell the difference between mass produced swill and actual quality beer. The best part about buying this book is that it gives you a perfect excuse to drink quite a lot of beer.

 

The Hitchhikers guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams.

If the world often seems like it is slowly going crazy and you are the only sane one, fear not, you are not alone. Douglas Adams takes everything that you know to be true, these things that you take for granted, and turns them upside down to show you the pure absurdity of human nature. It’s utterly absurd, it’s absolutely ridiculous, and its bloody good fun.

The Bible/ The Koran – God

Whatever you thoughts on religions place in today’s world may be, these two books have shaped and changed the world more than any other books ever have and perhaps ever will.

If you are religious, you can be saved by a book you didn’t read. St Peter isn’t going to check your library on your way through the pearly gates.

If you are not religious then reading these books can give you a better insight into those that do, and a good look at why civilization developed the way it did, as well as a few good arguing points along the way.

The Picture of Dorian Gray

Where to Start With Oscar Wilde

Where to Start With Oscar Wilde

Oscar WildeOscar Wilde has a very special place in history, one all of his own. The man known for his acerbic wit and most quotable quotes is well known as having written some of the funniest and most clever work of his time. But so often time is not a friend to authors and books, the nuances and style of language at the time of writing can vary wildly and make it hard for new readers to get a good start on a book or author.

While it is quite true that WIlde only wrote one novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray, he wrote a multitude of short stories and an abundance of poetry and plays.

My humble suggestion would be to start with the lighthearted The Importance of Being Earnest. It is a fantastic play that showcases Wildes characteristic wit, and has the added bonus of being in play format which is easy to follow and not overly long. Download or read a copy from Project Gutenberg Here.

If the 21,000 word play is still a bit daunting, try The Canterville Ghost which comes in at just under 11,500 words, which was his first short story to be published and remains one of his most popular short stories since its first appearance in 1887.

The Picture of Dorian GrayNo matter where you start with Oscar Wilde, you will invariably move onto what has probably become his most famous and certainly his most notorious work, The Picture of Dorian Gray. Adapted time and time again into plays, musicals, movies, tv shows even cartoons, The Picture of Dorian Gray was said to be the novel that that broke the camels back and ending up getting Wilde sent to gaol for grave indecency. The book was said to be unclean, effeminate and a contaminating influence on society, what it actually was, was a work of classic gothic fiction.

After you finish Dorian Gray, search around for his other many works, but be sure to include The Ballad of Reading Gaol, written after Wilde was released from Reading gaol and exiled himself to France. It is most famous for including the oft quoted lines

Yet each man kills the thing he loves

A passage from the Ballad of Reading Gaol was chosen as Wilde’s epitaph, engraved on his headstone, and seems a fitting end for this piece.

And alien tears will fill for him,
Pity’s long-broken urn,
For his mourners will be outcast men,
And outcasts always mourn.

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4 tips to Learn How to be a Reader

Compare Book PricesTalking to a teacher friend recently, it shocked me to learn that not all children grow up reading books. Be it for social or economical reasons, many people don’t grow up reading books, and, as a result, when they  first start to try and read books later on in life they generally find it hard to concentrate and sit still long enough to focus on the words on the page. One could perhaps blame it on television and the Internet, where we get constant streams of easily digestible information at our very fingertips.

Most people don’t realise it but reading is a skill, and it is a skill that many people find that they either need, or wish to acquire as life goes on. But fear not, with time, you can learn to be a reader.

First of all, don’t try and force the matter. If you sit down with War and Peace and try and force yourself to read it, you will end up with a very strong urge to rip the book into pieces and burn the remains. The most important step is always

Compare Free Audio Book SitesFind Something that Appeals to YOU!

Even people who regularly read a book a day will have trouble finishing a book that they don’t find interesting or that doesn’t appeal to them in any way. Find something you like, in a genre that you find interesting and go from there. If you like science fiction movies, try a science fiction book such as Dune or Enders Game. If you enjoy comedies, try out someone easy and hilarious like Ben Elton. One caveat, if you liked the Lord of the Rings movies, for god sakes don’t try and read the Lord of the Rings books. Pick up someone easier first like David Gemmell, or Raymond E Feist. Even experienced readers cant always manage to get through the Lord of the Rings books, myself included. They did indeed create the Fantasy genre as we know it today but my goodness they can be ever so dense.

Start with short stories. Find a book of short stories and put it next to your bed or the toilet and read a story when the time arises. This helps greatly with the next point.

Start to form reading habits. If you add a small amount of reading time to your schedule and force yourself to stick to it for a couple of weeks you will find that after a time, you will actively desire to read, even if it is just on the toilet or for 5 minutes before you fall asleep.Many people find reading to be a great way to wind down after along day and help them to fall asleep.

Always keep in mind the most important thing when starting to form reading habits is, Don’t Think of it as a Chore. You will get no pleasure from the task and learn to hate it. Start slow and build up. Even start with listening to audio-books in the car or on the train on the way to work. Many people may find that if they enjoy a particular authors audio books  they often times find it that much easier to start reading their physical books.

Why Books are Important

Books are ImportantIt seems so small to simply say that books are important. They are, but then thay are so much more than that. They are the very lifeblood of civilization, the safe-guarder of knowledge, the Chuck Norris ultimate work out gym for the mind. But sadly not everybody recognises this. There is a depressing trend in our society of increasing anti-intellectualism. As a result people who read books are seen as the minority, the odd ones out. We here at CompareBookPrices.org love books like no other and we would like to take a moment to try and convey love of literature to you, our lovely humble readers.

1. Reading Crafted Western Civilization as We Know it.

gutenberg printing pressThe creation of the first widely used printing press is credited to Johannes Gutenburg, and is widely considered to be the single most important event in the history of the modern age. It sparked the Renaissance, the scientific revolution and began what is known as The Age of Enlightenment.

Everyone takes the ability to read for granted these days, but before the invention of mass communication in 1450, reading was solely the realm of the rich nobility and members of the clergy. Gutenberg’s machine finally delivered literature to the regular people in a reliable, efficient and dependable way, without priests or Nobel’s self aggrandising interfering.

What’s more, the Gutenberg press allowed scientist to be able to easily and quickly share their discoveries with the rest of the scholarly world. What’s more, within 50 years the entire classical catalogue was reprinted and shared throughout the entirety of Europe. With the widespread introduction of knowledge came widespread discussion of knowledge.

2. Books Make You Smarter

It seems silly to have to point this out but the simple fact is that reading books makes you smarter. Not only in that you are constantly exposing yourself to new ideas and knowledge, but the simple act of reading a book actually actively increases your ability to concentrate and focus, your ability to remember things, your vocabulary,

There are also studies that show that simple things such as crossword puzzles help stimulate the mind and has the potential to ward of diseases such as Alzheimer’s.

Compare Book Prices3. Early Reading Increases Your Children’s Potential in Life.

There is an enormous amount of proof that exposing your child to reading early on in their life greatly increases their ability to do well in school and then again later on in life.

It just makes common sense, if they spend less time learning the basics in school, they have more time to learn and absorb more complex concepts during their school time.

4. Is a fantastic Hobby.

No one who reads is never bored. All you need is a good book and a nice spot to sit, and you are set. Few hobbies have the potential to be able transport you to any other place on earth, or other periods in time.

It also gives you plenty of insights into other cultures and ethnicities. it expands your horizons like nothing else, and as a wonderful side result, is known to reduce stress levels up to 68%.

What’s more, with the increasing popularity of Kindles and eReaders, it is now so ridiculously easy to carry around hundreds of book in one single pocket. Even the most voracious of readers is set for a good few months with a hundred books in their pocket.

readers make leaders5. Readers Make Leaders.

There is a quote from Harry Truman that rings as true today as it did when he said it.

“Not every reader is a leader, but every leader must be a reader.”

The 2 most influential men of the last generation are both huge readers.Steve jobs was said to have had in inexhaustible thirst for knowledge, and Bill Gates has such a love of book that he has  a huge personal library right in his house.

It is also worth noting that Nobel Laureate Winston Churchill won his Nobel Prize in literature.

Reading increases intelligence and leads directly to better potential for insight and inspiration, so why wouldn’t you read.

The Importance of Reading To Children

5 Reasons you should read to your child

compare book pricesWe all want our children to grow up and be successful, happy, fulfilled adults. Intelligence is probably towards the top of most parents list’s of skills and traits that they wish to cultivate in their kids. We spend thousands of dollars on schools, books, and supplies trying to give our children the best possible start in life, but quite often, the best single thing that you can do is to instil a love of reading in your children.

1.Children that are exposed to reading at an early age have a higher success rate in school.

Study [1] after study [2] has shown have shown that kids that are exposed to reading early on in their life are more likely to do well in all facets of education.

Reading is one of the most valuable skills developed during early childhood.[2]

It really is just pure common sense. If your child has to make a larger effort to recognise or understand words, then they will have to work so much harder to grasp the concepts that the teacher is trying to teach them.

2. It improves communication skills.

children readingWhen you spend time reading with your toddlers, they are much more prone to expressing themselves around others in socially acceptable ways. Many parents know the dread of the first time they introduce their children to other kids around their age. When toddlers see and understand the social interactions between characters in their books, they gain important communication skills.

 

3. Improves Logical Thinking and Speech Skills

When you read to your child, they learns important language and pronunciations skills,by listening to you speak. This is also the beginning of their association of words with sounds.

As soon as you child begins to associate the concepts that are happening in the book to what happens in their own life, they start to for important conceptual and abstract thinking skills.

4. The Understanding that reading is good.

reading is goodEarly reading to your kids will see books as a pleasure, not a chore, and they will be much more inclined to indulge in reading as a hobby as they grow older.

5.Your Children form a stronger bond with you!

Just personally, some of my fondest memories are of me and my kids all sitting together on the couch and just reading a book together. Then afterwards sitting and chatting about what happened in the book and how it relates to our lives.

Even after they all got older and we became to big to cuddle up together on one seat, often times on the weekends or holidays we all still sit together in a room and read books together. It warms my heart that a few years from now, my kids will be reading to their own kids and that is something that I directly influenced.

the importance of early reading

One last piece of advice that was passed on to me by my first child’s teacher. Try not to stress and spend too much time worrying about WHAT your child is reading, simply encourage the fact that that they are.

 

 

references.

[1]. The Importance of Literacy and Books in Children’s Development

[2]. Early educational milestones as predictors of lifelong academic achievement, midlife adjustment, and longevity Margaret L. Kern and Howard S. Friedman