All posts by jennygoaway

Hot Authors: Hermann Hesse

This is the part where I foolishly objectify men (and some, but too few, women). One thing I’ve noticed when I’m researching authors is that they were young once. Crazy, I know! But we’re so used to picturing them as bulky old men with giant white beards that we forget they weren’t born that way. Hence, what will become my Hot Authors series, in which I show how authors once looked.

Hermann Hesse, having no giant white beard, pretty much looked the same his whole life, from what I can tell from one whole photo from his youth:

He had a lovely sense of style, though.

Hermann-Hesse-in-der-Casa-Camuzzi-1929

Images linked to sources.

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Author One: Hermann Hesse

I was going to organize the list in some logical manner, such as alphabetized by author, but that would quickly land me in Austenland, and I’m not quite ready to get bogged down there. Then I realized, hey, it’s Banned Books Week! What better way to start than with a banned book? There are two books on the list that have been banned, at least that I’m aware of. One is, of course, Ulysses, but if I start with that, I’m sunk before I’ve even begun. The other is Call of the Wild, but I’ve read that in the past couple of years, so I’d like to leave that for a while. (According to Banned Books Awareness, it was banned by fascist governments for being too radical, and also because Jack London was a notorious socialist. It’s also been banned by sensitive parents who thought it was a children’s book because it was told from a dog’s point of view. Ugh, the stupidity.)

Luckily (for me alone), a Texas school board chose this week to ban, among others, Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse. Apparently they missed the point of Banned Books Week.

The books were banned from classrooms because parents complained about, mostly, sex, as well as some other ridiculous things, and the school board acquiesced. Siddhartha was banned because of premarital sex and also it depiction of Buddhist philosophy. Not sure what specifically about its depiction is offensive — that it’s inaccurate or offensive, or just that it’s there? — but I hope to discover that soon. Continue reading Author One: Hermann Hesse

Why

When I was a kid and first discovered reading, I thought to myself, “I’m going to read alll the books.”* You might think that was naïve, but I grew up in a tiny town. Our public library was about the size of a downtown condo. Standing in those few stacks, with my entire life ahead of me, my ambition didn’t seem too outrageous.

Later I learned that I could read forever and never get to the end of the books. So, resigned to failure, I read indiscriminately. And have wasted too much time reading the wrong books. I no longer have my entire life ahead of me. Time to be picky.

But what are the right books? Dude, I have all the lists of award winners, best-of-the-years, and 100-books-you-must-read-before-you-die. The award winners are often expensive or checked out for months at the library. The best-of-the-year lists can be questionable in retrospect. The 100-books-you-must-read are usually highly subjective: too British, too American, too white, too male.

Continue reading Why