Archive | December 2013

The Last of the Great Chained Libraries

God Jul och en Gott Nytt År! Though I hope many of you are out a-wassalling or watching balls drop or carrying on with some other First Night shenanigans, I bring you quiet bookworms curled up at home this post from medievalfragments. It is about chained libraries, an interesting step in the history of books, libraries, and open access to information. Think of it as the grandfather of your local library and the great-grandpappy of your free Kindle classics. Though this post is not strictly about banned books, this blog is dedicated to intellectual freedom and that freedom is contingent upon access, regardless of financial or social status. Anyway, enjoy the article and raise a glass with me to books, the freedom to read, and the New Year. Waes heal, readers. I’ll see you on the other side.


By Jenny Weston

On a beautiful sunny day last week, the Turning Over a New Leaf project team decided to take a day off from the office to visit a spectacular chained library in the small town of Zutphen (located in the eastern part of the Netherlands). Built in 1564 as part of the church of St Walburga, it is one of only five chained libraries in the world that survive ‘intact’—that is, complete with the original books, chains, rods, and furniture.

Needless to say, it was a rather surreal moment for all of us to step into the little room to see the dark-wood lecterns, upon which were placed (in neat rows, side-by-side) beautiful 15th- and 16th-century books, secured in place by metal chains.

Looking closer, it is possible to see just how the chained-library system works. Each book is fitted with a metal clasp, usually on the back cover…

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No War on Christmas, Just a Lot of Canons

As a Mythology & Religion major, I think an awful lot about tradition and ritual; why they change, how they change, and how they are kept alive. And there is no time of year when this is more prevalent than the veritable smorgasbord of winter holidays around this time each year. Here the effects of cultural exchange, cultural diffusion, industrialization, and globalization on tradition and folk culture are clearest. For the anthropologically or historically inclined it’s, well, it’s like Christmas morning.

Yet this time of year is also when tensions over said traditions run highest, if the annual “War on Christmas” tirades, arguments in the media over the ethnic background of Santa Claus, concerns that the mainstream American vision of Santa Claus has eclipsed the German Sinter Klaus (Sinterklaas?), many an article on interfaith or Jewish parenting websites regarding the Christmas tree or Channukkah bush, and my Facebook feed are anything to go by. Having given holiday tours at a museum dedicated to the Shaker religious movement, I have experienced firsthand the difficulty of explaining holiday traditions in their historical context, as many are totally unaware of how their beloved holidays have changed (even, or perhaps especially, just in the last 100 years). Read More…

For the Fan Who Has Everything: A Comics Gift Guide

Need some ideas for the geek(s) on your shopping list? Fear not, citizens, Nightwing17 is here to save the day. He has a wide range of comic/graphic novel suggestions, so there’s sure to be something on here for all ages, interests, and levels of geekiness. Some of them are banned or challenged to boot, so make like the ginger stop-motion Kris Kringle of Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town and stick it to the Meisterburger.

Reviews by Lantern's Light


Well it’s gift-giving season again, the happiest season of all. Unfortunately, all that happiness can get kind of stressful. Well fear not, dear readers, whether you’re hoping to take advantage of time off, looking for something to spend your grandma’s check on, or looking to buy the comic fan in your life something a little more nuanced than Amazon’s best sellers, I’m here to help make your life a little less stressful.

Happy HolidaysBelow I’ve assembled ten of my favorite collected comics that should be easy to find. I’ve tried to provide a selection that will hopefully appeal to most, if not all, readers. It’s worth mentioning that there are tons of excellent comics that I simply haven’t gotten around to reading, but I wanted to feel confident that you were getting the best I could recommend and, as such, many of them are missing from this list. If you feel…

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Of Nerfherders and Rebel Princesses

This has been a very interesting week for the blog. Our readership quadrupled, my post on censoring storytime was Freshly Pressed, and my post about the Nerf Rebelle toy line and accompanying tweet were quoted in the Huffington Post (even if they got the blog’s name wrong).

However, many on both sides of the Rebelle issue seem to think the only problem is the color. It is an issue, though not because pink is inherently bad, but far from the only one. But while we’re on the subject, I think this comic sums up the matter perfectly.

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Let the Games Begin

So, while I have yet to see Catching Fire on the big screen, The Hunger Games franchise has certainly been on my mind, between its box office success showing that female-led action films are more than viable; its interesting gender dynamics (and not just because the woman is the hero); and all of the political discussions surrounding its message, such as the Harry Potter Alliance’s Odds In Our Favor campaign.

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Objectionable? Oh yes. Meritless? Oh no.

Hello, fellow readers of Bound And Gagged! You may remember me from my guest review of the Ender’s Game movie. Well, I am back and I have a lot to say about a certain book: The Wasp Factory, by Iain Banks.

If you have been following this blog from the beginning, as I have, you may have noticed something about many of the books that seem to get banned; often times they aren’t guilty of whatever grounds they were banned for. For instance, according to The American Library Association, The Hunger Games apparently had occult/satanic elements in it. Who knew? This trend got me thinking; what about the books out there that actually DESERVE scrutiny? No sooner had that thought entered my head than did I think of The Wasp Factory. If there was ever a book guilty of violence, Satanism, disturbing imagery, and plain old evilness this is it. Read More…

A Few Words

Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.

– Nelson Mandela, 1918-2013

Reader Beware, You’re in For a Scare

Greetings, readers new and old. As my readership seems to have doubled overnight, I want to take the time to thank you for reading, commenting, and following, whether you’ve been with me since the first banned book review over a year ago or just stumbled across me this week. If you haven’t already figured it out, this blog is dedicated to banned books, censorship/intellectual freedom issues, and other assorted geekery and media. Feel free to browse the archives and get to know me, my other talented writers, and the blog a little better. Read More…