Saturday, September 25, 2010

Ban my books, please

Banning books is serious business. For the record, I am against it. Against censorship. Let people read what they want to read. Having said that, I've noticed that banned books get an awful lot of attention in the media.Banners don't seem to get that the quickest way to make someone want to check out a book (especially a kid!) is to say you can't read it.

So I'm thinking...won't one of y'all try to ban my books? There's not any violence in them, but, for some reason, book banners don't seem to care about that. But I use the "n-word" in Children of the Waters and the "f word" in Orange Mint and Honey. Both my novels have, gasp, sex. Ooh, ooh and Children of the Waters has a character who doesn't believe in God!

As a matter of fact, there are lots of worthy books out there some nutcake could do a great favor by trying to encourage the world to run out and read ban.

For example, I'm reading The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin right now. This is a book with multiple gods and gods who get it on with humans. Seriously bannable! (And for the non-crazy seriously readable.) The really cool thing is the second book in the trilogy is coming in November, so trying to ban the first book will probably really help sales of the second book!

And we'd be in such good company. Folks are always trying to ban The Color Purple and To Kill a Mockingbird, as just two examples.

In all seriousness, today is the beginning of Banned Books Week. Celebrate your right to read by buying or borrowing from the library a book that has been challenged or banned. If someone wants to keep you from reading it, it's almost guaranteed to be worth reading.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Oprah's last book club pick

UPDATE: So I heard wrong. This isn't the last book club pick! Yay, I still have a chance to be selected! Boo, people will keep asking, "When are you going on Oprah?" Oh well, I suppose that's a small price to pay.

Tomorrow Oprah is expected to announce her final selection for Oprah's Book Club. Hooray! Now we authors won't have to cringe at the frequent question, "When are you going on Oprah?" (As if it were just a matter of picking a date!)

The blogosphere is guessing Jonathan Franzen's Freedom is the pick. Too bad O couldn't use her PR machine to give some worthy unknown novelist a shot. But we can't be too surprised really. Her job is to get eyeballs on the screen. Franzen and Winfrey making nice will get people to tune in.

If I had a show that millions of people watched and could only recommend one more book for them all to read, it would be hard. But for many reasons, I'd go with This Side of the Sky by Elyse Singleton. It's a great story and available in paperback and on e-readers, so it's affordable. About everything from the Jim Crow south to WWII to women's friendships, mothers and daughters and interracial relationships, it has lots of stuff for book clubs to discuss.

And, ahem, it's been a little while since O has selected a female author. Just sayin'.

If you were Oprah, what would your last book club selection be?

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Getting to Happy

I remember buying Waiting to Exhale. It was hardcover (first edition, hot off the presses), and I wasn't working so it was a splurge. It was shortly after my mother passed away and I was grieving hard. I needed a distraction. I went to the Aurora Mall and wandered the halls before it hit me that what I wanted was a novel. I hadn't read a novel in years. At the time, I was reading a lot of self-help and nonfiction stuff trying to get my act together. But after my mother died I wanted a big juicy read, something to get lost in. I went into Waldenbooks and plopped down on the floor in the fiction section and started browsing. I hadn't heard of Waiting to Exhale or Terry McMillan before then. The title intrigued me. I opened it and the narrator lived in Denver. I lived in Denver! She worked in PR. I worked in PR! I bought it. I took it home and sank into it like a warm bath. I probably didn't exhale once that whole year after my mother's death, but this was one of the books that made me think that one day in the future I would.

I remember later when the movie came out. I was with my stepmother and my Latina sister-in-law in Killen, TX and we were so excited as we got in the line. All of us, white, black, Latina, in groups of friends and relatives, were eager to see a movie about grown women and grown woman stuff.

I never would have guessed back then that I too would be a novelist. I never would have guessed the book I bought (and then, of course, went back and bought Mama, Disappearing Acts, How Stella Got Her Groove Back, and all the rest) was opening a career door for me and dozens (hundreds?) like me.

Today the sequel is out. And reading it is like visiting with old friends you haven't seen in a long time. And just like real life old friends, these women made me laugh, made me sad, made me frustrated (I'm talking to you Savannah!) and, yes, made me happy. I'm curious to see how Getting to Happy will do in the current book-selling environment. I'm hoping the audience that Terry helped create will show up big for this one. I'm hoping that all those women who stood in line to see the movie version of Waiting to Exhale will show up in bookstores for this visit with some old friends. (You can follow Terry on Facebook and Twitter too.)

Anyone else care to share their experience of the Waiting to Exhale phenomenon? You buying Getting to Happy? You are, right? Right?