Sep 29

Books, serialized. A discussion of Banned Books Week. And, Don’t You Forget About The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot, and Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi.


Reading the Serial Box

Special thanks to listener Jeff who emailed us about Serial Box, a new service that is serializing stories online. You can read them online or via an app. You can even listen to audio versions. The first episode, or installment, of each story is free. The first story, Bookburners, has three episodes out as this podcast goes live. Another serial, Tremontaine, starts at the end of October.


audiobooksAudiobook of the week (04:26)

Wide-Open World: How Volunteering Around the Globe Changed One Family's Lives Forever, John MarshallWide-Open World by John Marshall, narrated by the author, is my pick for this week’s Audiobook of the Week.

Special thanks to for sponsoring this episode of Books on the Nightstand. allows you to listen to over 60,000 audiobooks, instantly, wherever you are, and the first one is free. Download or stream any book directly to your Apple or Android device. Sign up for a free 30-day trial and free audiobook download by going to


Celebrating the Right to Read (08:02)

It’s Banned Books Week (9/27 – 10/3), and we discuss a bit about “banned” vs. “challenged.” Thankfully, in the U.S. books have only been challenged lately, and not banned outright (as discussed in a recent Slate article). In New Zealand, however, author Ted Dawe has seen his new book Into the River banned, meaning the book can not be distributed in any way, and it can’t even be read out loud.

In honor of Banned Books Week, there’s a crossword puzzle to test your knowledge, and a quiz you can take to find out which banned book you are. Of course, you can (and should!) read some banned and challenged books, and can find lists of those here.


Don’t You Forget About Me (21:11)

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Two books that have been challenged:

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot was recently challenged in Knox County, TN for being “pornographic.” This gripping real-life tale is the story of a poor black woman whose cervical cancer cells were harvested without her or her family’s knowledge. Those cells were used in countless scientific breakthroughs that have benefited millions.

Banned for “offensive language, political viewpoint,” and for being “politically, racially and socially offensive”, Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi, is the author’s memoir of growing up in Tehran during the Islamic Revolution. This was the second graphic novel Ann ever read, and she credits it with helping to change her perceptions of graphic novels.

  • tcheer4life

    I’m Fahrenheit 451!

  • Chris in VT

    Great episode this week! Yet, you never said specifically why the book from New Zealand is banned. If people can’t even talk about the book(!), what the heck is in it that people find so offensive? But maybe I’m the only one who wants to know the “why” and is curious.

    PS. I’m “Tropic of Cancer!”

    • Oops! Guess we got carried away. From my reading, it appears that it was given a 14+ rating for sex and swearing, the censor thought it should be 18+, and then it was banned because there was no way for schools and libraries to enforce the age limits.

      Oh, and I’m Beloved!

  • CIMHsv

    Into the River is actually causing a Streisand effect, and New Zealand’s ban will probably make this a best seller! Also, it seems that if it’s not illegal to own, New Zealand would allow for a purchase and download. I guess if you already own it, you are “grandfathered” in. Weird.
    Thank you for your attention to this, and reminding everyone that we are not celebrating banned/challenged books as much as we are celebrating the FREEDOM to read whatever we want!
    I am Lolita!!

  • Carrie Mercer

    I have read both of your suggestions for banned books in different book clubs, and they were both really great for discussions!

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