- Courtesy of Ariel Hakim
- The stack of challenged/banned books Ariel Hakim is currently reading.
Locally based small business owner Ariel Hakim, who refers to herself as “a reformed MFA living in Northeast Ohio,” has read banned books for more than 25 years now. She just launched Banned Books Box
, a new monthly subscription box service to “stand with banned authors, express a love of reading and justice, and support small business.”
Each month, subscribers will receive two banned books published within the past decade. Most are literary award winners and all are worthy of a distinguished bookshelf. There will also be a lapel pin inspired by one of the books in the box, information on book bans, and at least one other bookish item to love and enjoy.
“I had been working at the Wadsworth Library behind the reference desk,” says Hakim in a recent phone interview. “I was doing that for a little while and part of the job was to stay up on the library world. We would get various magazines, and I got interested in the book bans that I was reading about. One of the first ones I took notice of the children’s books that was about a drag queen story time that people were getting offended by. A lot of the children’s books came to my attention, and I have little kids. The more I looked into book bans, the more I felt saddened by what was happening. I’m astounded. I think it’s something people need to know about. I’m targeting people who are readers. The more good press that authors are getting, the better.”
The December box will feature banned author Maia Kobabe, who personally contributed signed bookplates featuring comic art as adornment to the graphic novel Gender Queer
. Kobabe also has created an original design for a limited-edition Gender Queer
-themed enamel pin, available only from Banned Books Box.
“Maia wrote this graphic novel that parents of high schoolers have found in the school library and been completely vocal about how offended they are by some of the images,” says Hakim. “Maia wrote it to explain to family members about what non-binary means. Maia came out as queer and then several years as non-binary. When I decided that this was the book I wanted to use, I emailed the agent to see about getting signed books, and we got some book plates, and then Maia designed an enamel pin that will be one of the pieces of the book box. I like the book a lot, and I think it’s entertaining and educational. I love memoirs. Just reading anyone else’s story written in a sincere way is something I will always enjoy.”
The December box also includes a novel that has been paired a number of times with Gender Queer
in parents’ complaints to school boards. Both books have received Alex Awards from the American Library Association, an honor that recognizes adult titles with special appeal to young adults ages 12 to 18.
Sign-ups for the December box close on Dec. 12. Banned Books Box guarantees its December box will arrive in time for Christmas. Banned Books Box bills monthly, and subscribers may cancel at any time.