Saturday, October 6, 2012

Banned Book Week!


It's Banned Book Week, and to recognize that, I'm participating with Sheila of Book Journey (a great blog, by the way) in her Jump On the Banned Wagon series of posts about banned books. Stop by her site to see all of the participating blogs, many if not all of which are offering giveaways along with their posts.

Each blogger has chosen a banned book to highlight; my choice is The Handmaid's Tale, by Margaret Atwood. I picked it up for Banned Book Week in 2003, because it was one of the few adult books on the lists I hadn't read at the time.

I first read The Handmaid's Tale in 2003, and finished it two nights before my wedding. If you have ever read this book, you know that it is probably the very worst thing to read when you're going through serious pre-wedding stress! All joking aside, it's very difficult for me now to articulate just the effect this book had on me. "Traumatized" gets close!

It's a dystopia set in the Boston area in a future both distant and recognizable. The United States as we know it no longer exists; the Republic of Gilead has replaced it following a bloody coupe and nuclear war. After the war, many people are infertile; some fertile women deemed unfit for "respectable" life in this ultra-fundamentalist religious society are enslaved as sexual surrogates or "handmaids" and a young woman named Offred is a handmaid to a powerful couple. Other non-desirable women are forced to become domestic servants or prostitutes, or sent to clean up the nuclear wasteland. Privileged women can marry but no woman is allowed to work, learn to read, or have her own money. Homosexuality is anathema; abortion, a capital offense. Womens' bodies and minds are state property.

The story is meant on one level to be a tale of what could happen if certain kinds of religious fundamentalism already present in the world were to get the upper hand. The thing about this book that scared me so is that in some parts of the world it already has, and every day in this country we see more and more fighting over what women are allowed to do and be and want.

The Handmaid's Tale is probably the best-known of Atwood's novels and the one of hers with which most readers start. After I read it, and after a recovery period, I went on kind of a Margaret Atwood bender, during which I read all of her novels over the course of two years or so. And I have to say, those were among the best two years of my reading life. It's not for everybody- believe me, I get that. But I do think it's a cultural touchstone. So I think you should read it.

And to encourage you to read it, I'm giving away a signed paperback copy of The Handmaid's Tale. I got to meet Atwood a couple of years ago and ended up with an extra (I know- an extra signed book? But yes.) which I would love to share. If you'd like to win it, leave a comment on this post with your email address and get back to me within 48 hours with a mailing address if you win.

23 comments:

bermudaonion said...

That does sound scary and true to life in some parts of the world! I can see why it traumatized you! Thanks for the giveaway. kathy(at)bermudaonion.net

Book Lady said...

I've always wanted to read this book! This is a great post and a great giveaway!

Thank you!
Melissa Caldwell
must.read.faster(At)gmail.com

Jennifer Hartling said...

I love this book and I'd LOVE to win a copy! :) Thanks for the opportunity!

mamabunny13 said...

Thanks for the opportunity to win this amazing book!
mamabunny13 at gmail dot com

Sheila (Bookjourney) said...

OOH a signed copy! I have yet to read this one of any Atwood for that matter but I have been meaning too - I have heard such great things.

Thank you for being a part of banned book week. I have so much fun doing this!

traveler said...

this book would be memorable and special. Thanks for this great giveaway. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

Nana Fredua-Agyeman said...

I read this one year or two ago. It's mind-boggling if these things were ever to happen; not that they've never been tried in other countries or departments or sections of a country.

rhonda said...

Always wanted o read this& a signed copy wow.lomazowr&gmail.com

petite said...

Thanks for this banned book post. This book is wonderful. elliotbencan(at)hotmail(dot)com

mariehahn13 said...

I've read quite a few banned books in my time, but this is one that has escaped me! I can't believe it has! It sounds like one I don't want to miss :)

Thanks for a great giveaway!
songbird1613 at yahoo dot com

ff295b52-0fe5-11e2-8f86-000bcdcb8a73 said...

This has been a book that has been on my TBR list for such a long time and when selecting the next book to read I keep looking at the title but haven't picked it up. After reading your review I now know that this will be the next book that I read. Thank you!!

aydemeATaolDOTcom

Isa said...

What a book to read just before your wedding! I've always wanted to read The Handmaid's Tale, I've heard great things about it.

visabellad(at)gmail.com

Amy said...

I read The Handmaid's Tale many years ago for a class. I want to read it now because I think I'll get more out of it.

I cannot imagine reading this book just prior to my wedding. You poor thing - thank goodness you went through with your wedding! I love that you read all of Atwood's books. Do you recommend any one in particular?

Thank you for this amazing giveaway!
Aimala127(at)gmail(dot)com

Rachel said...

AND this is another book that has been sitting dejectedly on Mt. TBR, waiting for me to notice it again. There are too many of those. It makes me anxious. :p

Tea Drinking Russophile said...

I would love to read this book. I've been reading your blog for a while and you haven't steered me wrong yet!

chrism485 @ yahoo.com

Mary Preston said...

I actually have not heard of THE HANDMAID'S TALE before. It looks like an incredible read.

Got to love Banned Books Week. So many books I have discovered.

marypres(AT)gmail(DOT)com

ChaosIsAFriendOfMine said...

I love Margaret Atwood - this was the first book I read of hers as well. I still haven't read her entire catalog yet - I need to get on that!

Tanja said...

This is the only book by Margaret Atwood that I've read. I' love to own a copy.
tanjavrljic AT gmail DOT com

Mystica said...

Dont count me in as I've read this and found it such an amazing read.

Ryan said...

As a Canadian and an affirmed Atwood fan, I am ashamed to admit that I've not read The Handmaid's Tale. I really need to rectify that situation soon.

Jessica said...

I once talked with a bookseller who said she wanted to tattoo lines from this book all over her body. I don't know that I quite share that level of enthusiasm, but I did really love the book, and it was my first introduction to Atwood.

I'd love a signed copy. scifibrarian(at)gmail(dot)com

Pam said...

Oddly enough, this is the only Margaret Atwood book I've never read. I'd love to win a copy and remedy that lack!

Athira said...

This is a book I really want to read! I haven't read any of Atwood's book though I own a couple.