I read banned books

Artwork courtesy of the American Library Association.

Artwork courtesy of the American Library Association

Each year the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom compiles a list of books banned, or challenged for removal, in libraries and classrooms.

The main reasons for these challenges are because of parental concerns over what they consider inappropriate language, sexual content, violence, drug and alcohol use, and racism or religious intolerance.

After perusing the lists from the previous five years, I could very well be labeled subversive. I apparently read banned books… a lot.

Many of the books I have in my own extensive library, have made the challenged lists multiple years. A sin that I am rather proud to confess.

Throughout my life, when everything else went side-wickered and I couldn’t make sense of what was happening, books were my constant stabilizing factor. I could escape to a world of my choosing whenever I needed. I think that is why, when given an option, I would rather buy a book (hardcover, thankyouverymuch) than borrow it from the library. That way I can return to that special place, and favorite characters, whenever I want.

I have a ridiculous number of books in my house, to the point of them being an obsession. I have one bookshelf devoted solely to my ‘to-read’ pile. It’s stuffed to overflowing. I LOVE books and reading, and am sad so many of my favorites were removed from libraries and school curriculum. It pisses me off that a small group of people, or even a single person, can effectively censor my reading choices, anyone’s choices.

If parents are uncomfortable with their child reading a particular book for school, deal with that in your house, don’t try to take away my access to the book too. That’s not your decision to make.

Banned Books Week is Sept. 22-28. Check out the 2012-2013 list of banned and challenged books, then exercise your first amendment rights, and read a banned book.

From my personal stacks:

2012-2013

Ender’s Game – Orson Scott Card
The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini
Romeo and Juliet – Wm. Shakespeare

2011-2012

In Cold Blood – Truman Capote
Water for Elephants – Sara Gruen
Beloved – Toni Morrison
Slaughterhouse-Five: – Kurt Vonnegut

2010-2011

Anne Frank: Diary of a Young Girl – Anne Frank
The Hunger Games – Suzanne Collins
Brave New World – Aldous Huxley

2009-2010

I know Why the Caged Bird Sings – Maya Angelou
A Prayer for Owen Meany – John Irving
To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee
Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary

2008-2009

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil – John Berendt
The Day After Tomorrow – Robert A. Heinlein
Pillars of the Earth – Ken Follett
Grendel – John Gardner
The Golden Compass – Philip Pullman
Wicked: The LIfe and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West – Gregory Maguire
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn – Mark Twain
The Color Purple – Alice Walker
The Lovely Bones – Alice Sebold

16 replies »

  1. A lot of these touch on religion, so there’s your answer. No one may challenge the great and powerful OZ!
    I too adore books. I can’t bring myself to download one on my iPad. I still adore the feel and smell of a real “book”.

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  2. Of course you do, you REBEL, (and amazing woman).
    Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil is one of my favorite books..and even Harry (My HARRY POTTER) was banned in some states.

    Books that stretch our imaginations and test our convictions, faith or opinions are important. They are what show us who we are and what we find important. Someone is always going to find a problem with something, but it doesn’t mean they get to say what I read.

    Go. You.

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    • I feel sorry for these people who can’t see the beauty of these books because of some prejudice they have. They teach us compassion, tolerance, love and empathy. What could be wrong with that? They stretch our imaginations and make us think about life.

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      • I agree with my whole heart. Reading is like faith to me. Its all in the way you interpret things and the way you take things into yourself.

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  3. Apparently, I read banned books too. I didn’t see “Tropic of Cancer” on your list, or anything by Anais Nin or Dorothy Parker, but then, I think my tastes may differ from yours. Just a little. :)

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  4. Some of my all time favorite books are on these lists. What does this say about me? Perhaps that I am a versatile, well read bibliophile with an open mind and overflowing curiosity? Thanks for sharing!

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    • I can understand that a parent may object to certain language or topics, but most schools do have alternate reading lists. Use that, but don’t try to take that choice from me as a parent.

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  5. I’ve read many of those books, and am familiar with the other titles.
    How is it one or a few can make decisions for the rest?

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    • I don’t understand either. But, maybe it’s “the squeaking wheel” sort of thing. The dictionary challenge was a big surprise for me, but I was that kid who looked up “bad words.”

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  6. Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison, one of the most important books of the 20th century, was just banned by a county in North Carolina because one woman complained.

    I’ve read so many banned books. They’re banned for a reason. Because they’re good.

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