Monday, September 29, 2008

Celebrate Your Freedom to Read

It's Banned Books Week. Which is timely, given the recent controversy surrounding Palin and her alleged role in banning some of our best-loved books in her home state of Alaska.

Here's what Banned Books Week is all about:

Observed since 1982, this annual ALA event reminds Americans not to take this precious democratic freedom for granted.

I thought this was fun, the list of most challenged books and authors of 2007:

The “10 Most Challenged Books of 2007” reflect a range of themes, and consist of the following titles:

1) “And Tango Makes Three,” by Justin Richardson/Peter Parnell
Reasons: Anti-Ethnic, Sexism, Homosexuality, Anti-Family, Religious Viewpoint, Unsuited to Age Group

2) The Chocolate War,” by Robert Cormier
Reasons: Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Violence

3) “Olive’s Ocean,” by Kevin Henkes
Reasons: Sexually Explicit and Offensive Language

4) “The Golden Compass,” by Philip Pullman
Reasons: Religious Viewpoint

5) “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,” by Mark Twain
Reasons: Racism

6) “The Color Purple,” by Alice Walker
Reasons: Homosexuality, Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language,

7) "TTYL,” by Lauren Myracle
Reasons: Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group

8) "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,” by Maya Angelou
Reasons: Sexually Explicit

9) “It’s Perfectly Normal,” by Robie Harris
Reasons: Sex Education, Sexually Explicit

10) "The Perks of Being A Wallflower,” by Stephen Chbosky
Reasons: Homosexuality, Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group

The most frequently challenged authors of 2007
1) Robert Cormier
2) Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson
3) Mark Twain
4) Toni Morrison
5) Philip Pullman
6) Kevin Henkes
7) Lois Lowry
8) Chris Crutcher
9) Lauren Myracle
10) Joann Sfar

Celebrate Banned Books Week by recommending one of these books or authors to someone you love. I'm bringing the list to my next book club meeting.


Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Left Turn Magazine reviews Susan Stryker's Transgender History!

In their October/November issue, Harris Kornstein of Left Turn Magazine reviews Transgender History (one of the first of our Seal Studies Series!) by Susan Stryker.

"Pioneering scholar-activist Susan Stryker's newest book offers a concise and accessible crash course on the history of activism for the rights of "gender deviant" people, mainly in the US and in the past fifty years. Framed through a transfeminist lens, the book provides a useful introduction for those unfamiliar with the language of transgender identities, politics, and history. Even for those of us who feel relatively experienced in genderqueer speak, there are myriad moments in history to be revealed or remembered, and Stryker's recounting includes context and theory that is unlikely to be found elsewhere."

Be sure to pick up Left Turn this month to read the rest of this great review!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Save Bitch

Bitch magazine is trying to raise $40,000, and they need all the support they can get. If you've ever read Bitch, you know that it's a magazine we need---as women, as consumers, as feminists. Even $25 or $50 can go a long way.

Seal Press would have gone under a long time ago if we hadn't been bought by Avalon Publishing Group back in 2000. We were threatened again when Avalon was bought by Perseus, but we managed to survive that transition, too, though the number of books we put out and our staff was dramatically reduced. Bitch is trying to survive in a hostile environment, and we commend their work and are putting out the word, the call: HELP THEM KEEP PUBLISHING & DONATE. Their voice is so needed.

The Seal staff

Monday, September 15, 2008

Tango: An Argentine Love Story

Camille Cusumano's new book, Tango: An Argentine Love Story is coming out in October and we've just received a great review from Library Journal!

"According to Cusumano, tango-like yoga and Zen, which she also practices-is a way of life, and her keen and colorful observations of everything from the milongas (tango dance halls) and her dance wardrobe to the people she met and danced with to the neighborhoods she lived in and the foods she ate create a thoughtful account redolent with the sights, sounds, and tastes of her own tango experience. "
~ Library Journal

Enjoy this video of Cusumano dancing the Tango:

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Palin and book banning

I've been refraining from weighing in on the political drama surrounding Sarah Palin because we're making a concerted effort to focus on books here on the Seal blog. But it's been days now since the rumors have been flying about the supposed list of books that Sarah Palin had banned from her local library, and the librarian she fired. I was forwarded the rumored list this morning, and I was ready to get all worked up about it when Krista, justice-seeker that she is, forwarded me the link to and their coverage of the myths surrounding Sarah Palin. (Yes, this outs me as not up to speed in my political blog reading since the bogus claims have been out for days.)

Not a Book Burner
"One accusation claims then-Mayor Palin threatened to fire Wasilla’s librarian for refusing to ban books from the town library. Some versions of the rumor come complete with a list of the books that Palin allegedly attempted to ban. Actually, Palin never asked that books be banned; no books were actually banned; and many of the books on the list that Palin supposedly wanted to censor weren't even in print at the time, proving that the list is a fabrication. The librarian was fired, but was told only that Palin felt she didn’t support her. She was re-hired the next day. The librarian never claimed that Palin threatened outright to fire her for refusing to ban books."

It's strange. I'm disappointed and relieved. My mother and I skirt around political conversation. She's the quintessential peacemaker, and I'm quick to get all caught up in the firestorms surrounding the candidates I don't like. So last night when she told me that she felt upset by the coverage of Palin, I thought (in my silent voice), But she is MESSED up! Still, I bit my tongue. Today I'm reminded again that my mother's more balanced approach is a good one. Sarah Palin is not the devil. While I do not support her, and I do not support McCain, it's important to remember, as my mom said last night, "We're talking about human beings here." And isn't that Obama's message, after all? To learn how to disagree without condemning and rushing to judgment. I have a long way to go. But I'm happy to hear that Palin didn't ban books I love from her local library. Along with lots of my peers, I find myself looking for reasons not to like her, but maybe instead I should focus on the reasons why I support Obama and Biden. I'm not even sure that's possible, but it's a worthy personal election-season goal.


Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Curve - Back to School Special!

Curve Magazine did a back to school special listing their favorite books! Seal Press was well represented with Michelle Goodman's first book
The Anti 9-to-5 Guide: Practical Career Advice for Women Who Think Outside the Cube
and The Nonrunner’s Marathon Guide for Women by Dawn Dais. These are obviously must-haves for getting back to work as fall approaches! Both of these authors have second books coming out with us in the future. Dawn Dais has a great guide to biking on our spring list, Spinning Your Wheels: A Cycler's Guide to Getting Off Your Butt and Into Gear, and Michelle Goodman's second book My So-Called Freelance Life: How to Survive and Thrive as a Creative Professional for Hire will be available in October. Pre-Order now!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

new faces at the Seal blog

It’s been a couple of weeks since our last post because we’ve been initiating a change to bring more bloggers to the Seal blog. From here on out we will still be posting, but now you’ll be seeing posts from our publicists and marketing staff as well. We are going to attempt to do author guest posts more regularly than we’ve been doing, and we’ll be posting information about Seal events and noteworthy news about our books.

Stay tuned for lots more variation of posts, and welcome to the rest of the staff!

Thanks for reading,

Krista and Brooke