Thursday, September 26, 2013

Banned Books Week

Should a book ever be banned?

This is quite the serious question for someone who normally avoids controversy in her blog posts.  However, at one point in my life, I wanted to be a librarian.

I would have been right on the front lines of fighting book banning.

You might be surprised at the lists of books that have been banned, at least once, somewhere, by a government, a school.  They include such classics as:  (I have read all of these, incidentally, and hope I've remained uncorrupted)

The Chocolate War
Two Mark Twain classics:  The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
(more on Huck Finn later.)
Black Beauty
To Kill a Mockingbird
Flowers for Algernon
Where's Waldo?
In the Night Kitchen (I read that one to my son.  He's a productive young adult, hopefully not scarred for life).
The Dead Zone (I'm not the greatest Stephen King fan but I loved that book.  And oh yes, Carrie, another book I loved, was banned, too.).

Here is some information about banned books that may interest you.

Even if you don't believe books should ever be banned (I am one) some books make you think hard. How about Mein Kampf, written by one of the most evil men who ever lived?   I know people whose families suffered greatly in the Holocaust.  I've read the stories of many others, including adults who suffered unbelievably as children and wrote about their experiences in their old age.

No, books of the worst evil should not be banned.  I think, if you hide evil, you increase its power. The same for banning books that contain evil. 

Violence? Sad, that we have mass shootings nearly every month in this nation (one of the worst happening in my very own community in April of 2009), but violence in books is an evil we must protect people from?   (And, just ask anyone who grew up in a war torn nation about being exposed to violence.)

If you hide books that discuss bullying frankly, you ignore a problem that has gripped our nation.  I used to work with someone whose daughter had a friend who killed herself due to online bullying.  That girl, dear readers, was 12 years old. 

That three letter word that begins with S and ends in X? Guess we must protect people from that, although most of us originated from that act.  I know a number of women who started to read Fifty Shades of Grey (another banned book) and put it down for one reason or another - including "bad writing". (Based on their feedback, I made the choice not to try it out.  My decision!  Not a censor's.)

Huck Finn, with its use of the N word and discussions of pre-Civil War slavery? It makes a lot - a lot - of people uncomfortable.  But, if we don't work through that part of our continuing problems with our legacy of slavery in our country, we will never truly be united.

Even memoirs get banned. The Glass Castle. Just talked about that at work this week. People love the book.  Two co workers highly recommended it to me.   Oops, it's on the list. 

To me, with each and every one of these books, it was important to note the public eventually had the right to come to their own conclusions.

I invite you to read a book today, especially if you are a fellow blogger.  And even if you aren't.  Read one that was banned by someone, somewhere, once.  Or one that, maybe, still is.

You have a long list to choose from, including some of the best books ever written.


  1. Ok so textbooks get altered to portray more diverse lifestyles (ie gay parenting) yet books get banned due to homosexuality (one example) and schools honor the banned books? Isn't some of this contradictory? Perhaps banning a book makes it of more interest and more desirable? I know as a teen (or even now) that in itself would lead me to wanting to read it.

  2. Oh my gosh! That list is appalling!! I've read a few of those... and I became a better person for having read them and seen the difference between the times today and back in the day they were portraying. I own a few books that were probably banned many years ago, too. It's just wrong to do that. We have some cartoon classics that we grew up with, and at the beginning of the DVD, Whoopie Goldberg gives some words on how things have changed, and how some of the cartoons may be offensive. At least they were preserved for the contribution they were!!!

  3. I never really understood why books would be banned. I don't think it's right.

  4. Wow, I can't believe it! Such timeless classics, too!

  5. This reminds me of many occasions in the past when books were burned. Such a wicked waste of someone's time and effort, not to mention records of the past lost forever. It's easy enough to choose not to read something. You don't need someone else's censorship.

  6. Gosh I'm really surprised at that list! Why was 'Black Beauty' banned?!

  7. Most of those books were required reading in my day. I can't understand how some of them were banned. Society needs to take a breather and chill!

    If you don't like the news, don't watch it. If you don't like a book, don't read it. But don't tell ME what I can or cannot do! :)


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