One of my favorite books, to this day, is Stephen Chbosky’s “The Perks of Being a Wallflower.” I first read it in high school, when I needed a book like that, and I’ve re-read it a few times since and loved it just as much.
Sept. 27 through Oct. 3 is Banned Books Week, and according to http://www.bannedbooksweek.org, “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” is one of the 10 most challenged books of 2014, meaning its mere existence in schools, libraries or book stores was fought. The cited reasons are: “drugs/alcohol/smoking, homosexuality, offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group, date rape and masturbation.”
All of those elements are present in “The Perks of Being a Wallflower,” but all of those elements are also present in virtually every high school student’s life, whether directly or indirectly. When I first read the book, I was struck by how real it was. I felt like Chbosky managed to capture the trials and triumphs of being a teenager better than anyone I’d read before.
After reading it, I didn’t start doing drugs, drinking or smoking cigarettes. I didn’t start swearing or having sex. What did happen is I felt the full weight of the present. I understood the gravity of my own life as a high school student struggling to figure things out. And I felt infinite.
“The Perks of Being a Wallflower” is only one of countless books that have been banned or almost banned from schools and libraries. Other favorites include “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” by Maya Angelou, “The Color Purple” by Alice Walker, “Go Ask Alice” by Anonymous, “Catcher in the Rye” by J.D. Salinger, “The Giver” by Lois Lowry, “Brave New World” by Aldous Huxley, “Slaughterhouse-Five” by Kurt Vonnegut and, ironically, “Fahrenheit 451” by Ray Bradbury.
Banned Books Week is meant to draw attention to these controversial books and support their presence in schools and libraries. I’d encourage you to explore the website and find a banned book to read. Be grateful for the opportunity to do so.
I can hardly believe it, but another Carbondale First Friday is here, and there’s a ton to do on Main Street. For art lovers, stop by the Launchpad to see the CCAH’s new exhibition, “CrossCurrents.” The opening reception for the new show lasts from 6-8 p.m. In this exhibition, “three artists discuss the unpredictable vagaries and synchronicities of their lives. There are three disparate sets of circumstances, three geographical locations and three creative expressions in different media. In ‘CrossCurrents,’ artists Lynette O’Kane, Meris Barreto and Wendy Prellwitz combine their varied energies and mediums into a unified presentation,” according to a press release.
Once you’ve soaked up all that art goodness, stop by the Carbondale Clay Center, where you can purchase a handmade bowl and fill it with chef Susie Jimenez’s chicken albondiga soup.
And, of course, swing by all the other great galleries around town to see what they have to offer.
A special addition to this First Friday is a nonprofit volunteer fair presented by Challenge Aspen. Find out ways you can get involved or otherwise support the organizations that make the valley a great place to live.
Head over to Kanpai Sushi Bar in Glenwood Springs for an evening of acoustic music from 4am, the Strawberry Days Battle of the Bands winner. Music starts at 7:30 p.m., and there’s no cover. Sushi and great live music: What a way to spend a Saturday night.
It’s October. There are pumpkins in front of City Market. It’s pumpkin patch time. Visit Osage Gardens Pumpkin Patch, 36730 River Frontage Road, New Castle, where you can search through tons of pumpkins, play in a straw bale maze, visit chickens and enjoy the beautiful fall scenery. Admission is free, and pumpkins are sold by the pound. Or visit Niemann’s Pumpkin Patch, 6501 CR 214 (Peach Valley Road) in New Castle, where you can enjoy hay rides, a straw maze, straw mountain and more. Gourds, corn-stalks and straw bales are available for purchase, along with, of course, pumpkins. Children 2 and younger are free, children 3-5 are $5, ages 6-59 are $8, and ages 60 and older are $7.
Jessica Cabe may just have to read “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” for the millionth time. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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