Banned Books Week!

I will be celebrating Banned Books Week, as I always do, by being outraged over book banning! Let’s talk.

 

Banned Books Week, sponsored by the American Library Association, takes place from September 24 to October 11 this year. Here is their link so that you can read more about it. Basically, the ALA sets up BBW to increase public awareness of the implications of banning or restricting books, as well as to encourage reading (which I always support!). I am not going to suggest to you that YOU, personally, should read every book on the list. As always in life, some of them are going to be concerning topics that are unsavory to you. This, my friends, is not the issue. I think I have discussed on this blog before that a book will not intentionally offend you. If it begins to, or if you happen to already know the book will offend you, I recommend you do not open the cover (or close it, if need be). Books do not jump at you and force you to read them. You can’t accidentally be traumatized by a book the way you could by pressing the wrong button on your TV remote or receiving a disgusting pop-up ad on your computer. The fact is, books exist because: 1. someone wanted to write it 2. a publishing company decided that someone would want to read it. That person may not be you. This is the case with books like those about puberty, which are banned as obscene. They typically contain anatomically-correct drawings of the human body. Perhaps you don’t need to see this book, but maybe someone does.


www.ala.org/bbooks


 

The real issue is that dear, amazing, masterpiece classics are banned all the time from schools, libraries, book clubs, and cities/towns/counties. They are also challenged in prisons, but not nearly as often as in schools and public libraries. They are most often challenged by parents, in many cases I believe that the parents have not read the book in question. I watched a documentary on the challenging of Huckleberry Finn in college, and the two mothers in this town that were removing children from a classroom due to the discussion of this book had not read the book. They only knew it contained the “N” word. Had they read it, they would have gotten on their knees and thanked Mark Twain for expressing the inhumanities of racial prejudice. But they didn’t. Don’t judge a book by its cover, ladies.

 

One example: number ten in the top ten banned books from 2010 was Twilight by Stephanie Meyer. The same book that has remained a bestseller and cult favorite for years, and has now been made into a movie. Why ban this book? “Religious viewpoint and violence.” ???????

 

I am going to present the list of most-often-challenged classics, with my annotations. I changed the number red if I had not read it, in which case I have no comment. The reasons for banning/challenging can be found here.

 

1. The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald [A must-read for all people, but especially Americans.]
2. The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger [I believe this is banned because Salinger uses a four-letter word that is now allowed on non-cable television]
3. The Grapes of Wrath, by John Steinbeck  [Another must-read for all Americans. THIS IS OUR HISTORY, PEOPLE! And you don’t dare mess with Steinbeck to me!]
4. To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee [Another must-read and American history is the objection to this book. The “N” word is used, but the point, THE POINT is made so well that objectors don’t realize you’re on the same team as Ms. Lee]
5. The Color Purple, by Alice Walker [If you haven’t read this, run out and do it now. It’s beautiful. Same reasons as Mockingbird.]
6. Ulysses, by James Joyce 
7. Beloved, by Toni Morrison 
8. The Lord of the Flies, by William Golding [Banned for representing human nature as it is. Sorry, folks – we are animals]
9. 1984, by George Orwell [Harsh realities of life – I feel that this novel has become more prescient since 1984!]

11. Lolita, by Vladmir Nabokov 
12. Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck [Not even my favorite of Steinbeck’s books and still marvelous – it was challenged, hilariously, by the KKK. Let’s all read it for that reason alone!]

15. Catch-22, by Joseph Heller 
16. Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley 
17. Animal Farm, by George Orwell 
18. The Sun Also Rises, by Ernest Hemingway 
19. As I Lay Dying, by William Faulkner [Banned or not, I challenge anyone to read it. This is not an easy read.]
20. A Farewell to Arms, by Ernest Hemingway 

23. Their Eyes Were Watching God, by Zora Neale Hurston 
24. Invisible Man, by Ralph Ellison 
25. Song of Solomon, by Toni Morrison 
26. Gone with the Wind, by Margaret Mitchell 
27. Native Son, by Richard Wright 
28. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, by Ken Kesey 
29. Slaughterhouse-Five, by Kurt Vonnegut 
30. For Whom the Bell Tolls, by Ernest Hemingway 

33. The Call of the Wild, by Jack London 

36. Go Tell it on the Mountain, by James Baldwin 

38. All the King’s Men, by Robert Penn Warren 

40. The Lord of the Rings, by J.R.R. Tolkien 

45. The Jungle, by Upton Sinclair 

48. Lady Chatterley’s Lover, by D.H. Lawrence 
49. A Clockwork Orange, by Anthony Burgess [Again – just TRY to read this]
50. The Awakening, by Kate Chopin [I read this in high school and was NOT ready for it. When I read it again in college it literally changed my life.]

53. In Cold Blood, by Truman Capote [As this is an account of a true story, I’d say well, life is scary. This book is scary, so don’t read it if you don’t want to. Also, don’t read the news accounts of the murders in this book. But don’t blame Capote.]

55. The Satanic Verses, by Salman Rushdie 

57. Sophie’s Choice, by William Styron 

64. Sons and Lovers, by D.H. Lawrence 

66. Cat’s Cradle, by Kurt Vonnegut 
67. A Separate Peace, by John Knowles [I don’t recall this being anything but wonderful]

73. Naked Lunch, by William S. Burroughs 
74. Brideshead Revisited, by Evelyn Waugh 
75. Women in Love, by D.H. Lawrence 

80. The Naked and the Dead, by Norman Mailer 

84. Tropic of Cancer, by Henry Miller 

88. An American Tragedy, by Theodore Dreiser 

97. Rabbit, Run, by John Updike 

 

I understand the desire to protect children from things too mature for them. But please remember this: censorship cannot take the place of involved parenting.

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