Library Moments: February Online Book Club

Nancy Therrien, Programming and Outreach Coordinator: Hello, I’m Nancy Therrien from the Haliburton County Public Library and this is Library Moments. Once a week some of us from the library will come and talk about books, upcoming events, or the services we offer at the library.

Today on Library Moments, Sherrill Sherwood and I will each talk about a banned book that was featured in our February Online Book Club. The Haliburton County Public Library’s online book club is theme-based, meaning that instead of everyone reading the same title, we read different books based on a monthly theme and then let each other know our opinions. The advantage of this is that if a title is unavailable or you have read it in the past, you can pick another book to read. We chose banned books as the topic for this month’s online bookclub because Canada’s Freedom to Read week starts on February 26th.

Sherrill Sherwood, Collection Development Coordinator: I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings is an autobiography of Maya Angelou. It begins when Maya is a small child in the 1930’s South and ends with her high school graduation and the birth of her son. As young children of divorced parents, Maya and her brother are moved to their grandmother’s home in rural Arkansas. Maya sees herself as an ugly unwanted child. She and her brother experience a deep-seated racism first hand, and live in fear of lynch mobs. At the age of 8 Maya and her brother are moved again, this time to live with their mother. Her mother’s live in boyfriend, Mr. Freeman, molests and then finally rapes Maya. They go to court and shortly afterwards, Mr. Freeman is violently murdered. Maya becomes mute. She believes that both the sexual assault and the murder of Mr. Freeman are her fault. She essentially believes she has become a mouthpiece for the devil.

After Maya and her brother are returned to their grandmother, Maya slowly regains her voice – with the help of a kind educated woman named Bertha Flowers. Later, she and her brother are moved again – this time to California. She spends a summer with her father and after her father’s girlfriend cuts her in a fight, she runs away. She lives for a month in a junkyard with a group of homeless teenagers. She returns to her mother in San Francisco and at the age of 15 becomes the city’s first black streetcar conductor. By sixteen, she is pregnant. She hides her pregnancy for 8 months in order to graduate high school. The book ends with her growing confidence as a mother. I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings was nominated for a National Book Award in 1970 and remained on The New York Times paperback bestseller list for two years. It has been used in educational settings from high schools to universities, and the book has been celebrated for creating new literary avenues for the American memoir. However, the book’s graphic depiction of childhood rape, racism, and sexuality has caused it to be challenged or banned in some schools and libraries.

Nancy: One of this month’s titles is Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James, the first book in his trilogy. It received a lot of controversy when it came out due to its erotic content involving bondage, domination, and submission, yet it quickly became a New York Times bestseller, with the trilogy selling over 125 million copies worldwide. The story is about a naive young lady named Anastasia who meets a rich, powerful, and exceedingly handsome entrepreneur named Christian Grey. He leads her into the taboo world of BDSM. Their sexual encounters are steaming hot, and are explicitly detailed, so this book is not for the faint-of-heart. Do Christian and Anastasia find lasting true love? You may have to immediately pick up the sequel to find out more. If you have already read and loved the Fifty Shades trilogy and want more of the same, try books written by Maya Banks or Sylvia Day. By the way, the book Fifty Shades of Grey is far superior to its movie adaptation and it is available at the HCPL!

Anyone can participate in Haliburton County Public Library’s Online Book Club by choosing to read one or more of four books selected each month. You don’t even have to read from a particular month’s selection you can just go online and make comments about books and reading in general. Just go to and click on the “g” for Goodreads.

That’s it for this week’s Library Moments. Thanks for listening here on 100.9 CANOE FM.

*Originally aired on 100.9 CANOE FM.


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