Fighting words


In the interest of full disclosure, I’ll say right now that while I am not in the habit of plugging my friends’ websites (if my memory serves me correctly, in all the years I’ve been writing these 300 words per week, I have never done so), I’m going to break with tradition here and make an exception for my friend Montana Wojczuk’s recently launched site, Books That Saved My Life. She launched it September 27 in honor of the American Library Association’s Banned Books Week, but specifically in response to Sarah Palin’s “rhetorical” interest in banning books and to the news that, when mayor of Wasilla, Alaska, Palin looked into the possibility of having a few volumes taken off the shelves of the local library.

There are a lot of slippery slopes out there, waiting for us to land flat and hard on our asses. Whether Palin’s inquiries constitute banning books is not the issue; the issue is that, once those questions are uttered by politicians, we have taken a step down a slope that is precipitous, icy, deadly. Wojczuk collects essays and musings on her site about, well, books that have saved people’s lives. There are satirical fan letters to Judy Blume (the 13th most challenged author of the decade) and an essay about Christian conservatives boycotting Philip Pullman (the author of The Golden Compass, number four in 2007’s list of challenged books), and Wojczuk is putting out the call for more essays, thoughts, odes, pleas, well-argued screeds.

I, myself, am planning a little ode to the children’s book Miss Rumphius because, in my opinion, there are so many books out there that do, so quietly and so beautifully, between their covers, exactly what Miss Rumphius says every human being should do: make the world more beautiful.