Sunday, September 20, 2009

Now I Can't Read?!

One of my favorite times of the year is coming up. I am talking about Banned Books Week. Back when I had more money, I would make it a point of buying at least 5 books that were banned.

Since I my love of reading is well known, I used this opportunity to explain to my children why I thought books should not be banned. I feel that many groups and governments including ours, fail to realize that we do have some common sense. While I would not let my elementary age child read something like Catcher in the Rye, I read it as a high school student as I am sure many of you did. I don't think it warped my mind nor do I fell the need to go and do something totally stupid because of it.

Part of having the freedoms that we have, is the ability to make choices about what we allow into our lives. When we allow others to make these choices for us, we are giving up our free thought. We are allowing our lives to be dictated by a select few.

While there are many books on the list that I would not personally read, that does not mean that the choice should be taken from others. Below are the top 10 banned books for 2009.

If you go to the ALA's site, you can find a wealth of information on what type of groups challenge books how books are banned and why certain books have been banned.

10. The Color Purple. It has been banned because of its extreme and graphic violence, troubling ideas about relations between races, African history, human sexuality, and man’s relationship with God.

9. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. The book has been banned because of its explicit scenes of rape and other sexual abuse, as well as violence, homosexuality, and vulgar language.

8.To Kill A Mockingbird. The book has been challenged many times because of how it deals with race issues. It is extremely prejudice and stereotypical. The novel also portrays an assault that is somewhat sexual, resulting in a rape. Vulgar language, including the “n” word, is also used.

7. Brave New World. The book has been banned for its strong themes of drugs, sexuality, and suicide. In the novel, something as minute as chewing gum is seen as a way to deliver sex hormones, and pornographic films are spread around like free candy. Simply, Brave New World has been banned and challenged for its negativity, the latest being in 1993.

6. 1984. The book was first banned in 1984 by the American Library Association because of its “bleak warning of totalitarian government and censorship.” Many see the novel as one that is expressing immoral themes, as well as being pro-Communist. The book tosses around the idea of “Big Brother,” which is still highly influential and popular in culture today. The book has also been challenged for sexual themes.

5. Lolita. This book has been banned in many European countries for its sexual content. Believe it or not, it has not been banned in the US.

4. Catcher in the Rye. This book is so widely known that it really needs no explanation. But, many feel that teens will look up to Holden, the main character. There is much controversy surrounding the book because of its slang, violence, sex and moral issues.

3. The Harry Potter Series. Since the first book’s publishing in 1997, the series has been under much scrutiny. In 2001, parents from all over the U.S. and other parts of the world challenged the book because of its witchcraft, violence, the occult, and its overall scariness. Years later, the series is still banned and challenged for the same reasons, including lying, cheating, stealing, ghosts, and promoting Wicca ideology.

2.Candide. The Great Council of Geneva banned the book after its release, but more than 30,000 copies sold in a year. In 1930, U.S. Customs seized Harvard-bound copies of Candide, and then in 1944 the U.S. Post Office wanted the book dropped from Concord Books.

1. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Here in the U.S., the book was banned in 1885, a year after it was published. At first, the book was banned for its use of slang, which was seen as demeaning. Over time, the focus shifted towards the fact that the novel uses the “n” word so many times, in fact over 200 times. Many cannot get around the fact that such a derogatory word is used so much.

What I did notice is that The Bible did not make the top 10. I didn't even see it on the top 100. Nor did any of Darwin's writings or the Koran. I am sure this has to be some sort of oversight by someone. These books are just too controversial in some circles not to be banned or at least challenged.

I hope you take some time in the future to expand your reading and maybe pick a banned book or two even it if is just to feel a little revolutionary.


  1. a corgi said...
    geesh To Kill a Mockingbird banned? that's a classic in my eyes; my favorite book in 8th grade; read it dozens of times that year

    its sad they ban; I think age-appropriate reading should be encouraged of all things out there to read.

    Expat From Hell said...
    Catcher in the Rye remains one of my all-time favorites. While living in Latvia last year, we told some of our co-workers about 1984, and how the government can do so much to insinuate themselves into our lives. They didn't know what we were talking about. We went to the local Riga bookstore and asked for the title, and they said it "wasn't available". Hmmm, wonder if Orwell STILL isn't right on the money....thanks for posting this! EFH
    Bruce Coltin said...
    I'm glad I found your blog. Your honesty makes for enjoyable reading. I have a feeling you would like my latest post: The Brutish Idiot. If you feel like stopping by, I would love to have your reaction.

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