Tag Archives: Reading

The National Book Awards Longlists Have Been Announced For 2017

Earlier this week, the National Book Foundation announced the poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and young people’s literature longlists for the 2017 National Book Awards.

Since 1950, the National Book Awards and the National Book Foundation have made it their mission to “celebrate the best of American literature, to expand its audience, and to enhance the cultural value of great writing in America.” As a nonprofit organization, the National Book Foundation hopes to “raise the cultural appreciation of great writing” through these annual awards.

Each year a panel of esteemed judges read hundreds of published submissions before assembling a longlist of ten titles for each category. These longlists are then narrowed down to five finalists before a single winner is chosen.

This year’s longlists feature a variety of writers including Pulitzer Prize-winner Jennifer Egan, 2011 National Book Award-winner Jesmyn Ward, and five-time nominee Frank Bidart as well as numerous first-time longlisted authors and debut collections. Women prove to be a dominate force in the categories of Young People’s Literature and Fiction, while the topics of race and politics set the tone for the nonfiction contenders.

The finalists in each category will be announced on Oct. 4. The winners will be announced following a ceremony in New York on Nov. 15.

If you’re looking for some new reading material, click here and check out the longlists for the 2017 National Book Awards!

Issue 18 is live!

Hi everyone! Please check out Issue 18 of our magazine featuring a variety of great pieces!

Thank you to everyone who submitted and contributed.

Enjoy!

 

2016 Banned Books Week Begins!

 

This week marks the start of the annual Banned Books Week! The event was established in 1982 as a way to celebrate the freedom to read and shine a light on the persistent problem of censorship. Organizations across the nation have been participating ever since. This year the celebration takes place from September 25-October 1.

According to the American Library Association (ALA), Banned Books Week “highlights the value of free and open access to information” as well as “brings together the entire book community; librarians, booksellers, publishers, journalists, teachers, and readers of all types, in shared support of the freedom to seek and to express ideas, even those some consider unorthodox or unpopular.”

Since 1982, more than 11,300 books have at least been challenged, meaning a person or group has requested for a book to be removed. In the last year alone, 275 books were recorded challenged by the ALA. Titles of the top ten most challeged books of 2015 include Looking for Alaska by John Green, E.L. James’s Fifty Shades of Grey, and I am Jazz by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings. Books such as these are often challenged for their diverse content.

An infographic on Readers.com explains the reasoning behind these challenges to be primarily caused by books containing offensive language, sexual content, or content unsuited for the age group it is being presented to. Other reasons include violence, homosexuality, religious views, racism, and substance abuse. While some books remain merely challenged, other books suffer a ban from certain countries meaning the book is successfully removed from libraries or being taught in schools.

Banned Books Week celebrates all 11,300 of these challenges. With censorship prohibiting what people can and cannot see or read, it is important to exercise freedom. Turning a blind eye to “diversity” won’t solve anything. This week, and in the weeks following, embrace diversity instead of trying to hide it. Read freely!

For more information on Banned Books Week visit their website or follow their Twitter!

Check this out!

Staff editor Jennifer Rohrbach has been published on FlashFiction.net. Read her awesome analysis here!

What’s on your October Reading List?!

Happy October everyone! With the semester in full swing and the FUSE conference just 5 weeks away, things are getting pretty hectic for us at the Blue Route, and we’re sure you’re feeling the stress too! But fall is in the air and despite all the craziness, it’s important to take time out of the day to relax, enjoy some sort of seaonsally-inspired coffee drink, and read something not for a class. Whether it’s a fun blog, that YA novel your best friend has been bugging you to read for months, or a ridiculous high-fashion magazine (my personal favorite), use this fall to check out media you don’t always take the time to read. What’s your go-to fall read this season? Comment and let us know!

“You Must Contribute Brain!”

You haven’t seen the inside of a book in over two months, and you ask yourself, why?!?Summer, that’s why. It is natural human laziness to leave the doors of the University behind and shut down your mental and literary expansion despite your best wishes to conquer that summer reading list (It’s growing in the corner of your room, neglected, cold, and shunned…). But the challenge is to continue to immerse yourself in opportunities of learning, however simple it may be, perhaps with adult literature or a great classic.

So here’s what I’ve learned forcing myself to read this summer.

The OBVIOUS benefits of using your literary brain over the summer:

1. You will be able to recall the things you’ve spent the entire semester stressing over!
–Remember how many times you re-read “Kubla Khan” by Samuel Taylor Coleridge just so you could get to the bottom of what was really going on? Yeah, reading more literature over the summer enables you to bring that trained cognitive thought process back to the surface without as much work, thus making you smarter!

2. Your conversations will have more depth than the obvious focus on the weather and tanning!
–All of sudden you come to a revelation and BOOM! you’ve gotta talk about The Parable of the Cave from The Republik by Plato, and how you’ve crawled out and can stand in the glory of the sun! So much more interesting than the typical tan line conversation, and surely a lot less embarrassing if your tan lines aren’t even that impressive…it happens.

3. You’ll be able to see all of the neat little references in the newest summer blockbusters!
–That’s right, they’re everywhere. Not everyone gets them, but you will!

4. It will disconnect you from the eternal connection that is social media.
–You, a book, maybe some coffee and plenty of time to live within the narrative of something great is all you really need.

5. Your imagination will grow exponentially!
–LOOK AT HOW SUDDENLY CREATIVE YOU ARE!

I’ve been indulging in a few novels that have surely made an impression on my summer. If anyone is looking to begin their summer reading, I would highly suggest Tom Hardy’s Jude the Obscure, or Charles Dickens’ David Copperfield! Remember, just because the sun is out and the sky is blue doesn’t mean your literature doesn’t want you too! So, READ ON!

Kimberlee Roberts

*Title credit to Daniel Robinson, Smart Barker

The Audiobook: The E-reader’s Less Controversial Cousin

Image courtesy of Carlos Porto at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Carlos Porto at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

In recent years, book lovers everywhere have been faced with the question of whether or not an e-reader can compare to the tactile sensation of holding a good book in one’s hands. There are pros and cons to both, but in this discussion, there’s one reading medium that’s frequently overlooked:  the audiobook.

I have yet to hear a single person panic about the easy availability of audiobooks, and what that means for the future of the physical book. Nevertheless, thanks to the internet and the widespread use of various forms of technology, audiobooks are easier to acquire than ever, and easier to consume. With ipods and smart phones, readers can grab a pair of earbuds and listen on the go. They can even do other tasks while reading.

There’s another advantage to audiobooks too:  for some, they’re more accessible than physical books. My younger brother has dyslexia, so when we were kids, my mother turned to audiobooks to help him read. She didn’t want the world of writing that everyone else could access to be closed off to him because of his disability. People who are blind can also benefit from audiobooks for this reason.

My family used to listen to audiobooks on long car rides, so vacations were prime reading times. So were easy, everyday chores. We’d listen to a chapter of From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler while loading the dishwasher or folding laundry. We’d usually end up sitting and listening once the chore was done, too absorbed in the story to look for another task. My favorite audiobooks were read by actors who changed their voices for different characters. To this day, there’s a line from the aforementioned book that my family frequently quotes, because of how hilarious it sounded when read aloud.

That brings me to the best part about audiobooks:  the audio part. They add something to the reading that isn’t there in a paperback or e-book. The actor’s inflections and voicing of the characters adds another layer to the reading. Reading an audiobook isn’t just reading, it’s experiencing a performance. The difference between experiencing a physical book and an audiobook is similar to the difference between reading a play and seeing it performed, though subtler.

All this makes me wonder why audiobooks aren’t more popular. Most of the people I’ve talked to about this—people who love to read—are far more likely to read a physical book or e-book than an audiobook. I initially thought this was just chance, and that I happened to only know fans of physical books and e-books. A Google search brought me to some statistics from the Pew Research Center, which can be viewed here. Despite my small, relatively insignificant sample size, it seems my experience matches the statistics. People are actually reading far more physical books than anything else, with e-books coming in second at a much lower percentage, and audiobooks dead last.

Seeing this information, I can’t help but wonder what percentage of readers has never listened to an audiobook. Are people choosing physical books and e-books out of preference, or out of habit? I certainly have a bias toward audiobooks. While I don’ t prefer them over other forms of reading in all cases, I like to read them.  I have trouble imagining that most readers have tried them and chosen to never use them again. Then again, maybe audiobooks are sometimes not as convenient as other forms of reading; not all books are available in audio form. That might send some people to a different reading format.

Some people find their focus drifting away during long periods of listening, but I personally find that audiobooks increase my typically short attention span. In middle school, the CD version of The Lord of the Rings helped me get through Tolkien’s lengthy descriptions of Middle Earth. Often when I’m reading something that’s particularly dense, I wish I had an audio version. Maybe I’m an auditory learner, or maybe it’s because an audiobook keeps plowing ahead at a steady pace, but whatever the reason, I’ll probably always be a big audiobook fan. I’m seriously considering getting a subscription to audible.com after college, once I have more time to read for fun.

Have you tried audiobooks? What’s your opinion about them? Feel free to leave a comment!

-Emily DeFreitas