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Archive for the ‘Censorship’ Category

BBW!

It’s Banned Books Week. What are you doing about it?

May I recommend….

Harry Potter (JK Rowling) — Woo! Witchcraft!

Fahrenheit 451 (Ray Bradbury) — Curiously enough, this book isn’t about censorship, even though it’s understandable why one might get that opinion. But Bradbury, who as author knows his intentions best, stated that it is actually about the evils of television. I can’t argue with that. Have you ever seen Jersey Shore? Or Toddlers & Tiaras? I’m with Bradbury there, although there are a couple of shows I like and catch when I can, which honestly isn’t all that often.

Huckleberry Finn (Mark Twain)

The Bible (various)

To Kill a Mockingbird (Harper Lee)

Crank (Ellen Hopkins) — Don’t get me wrong. I loathe Hopkins’s books, having read one and subsequently pulled it apart, stomped on it, and threw it away (I thought about flushing it down the toilet and decided that no toilet needs that much crap in it), and I might agree theoretically that it should be banned, but not for subject matter. Nah, it should be banned for bad writing. I joke, I joke. I don’t think any books should be banned. I think that people should use common sense.

Twilight (Stephenie Meyer) — another book that should be banned for bad writing. :p

His Dark Materials trilogy (Philip Pullman) — absolutely brilliant. But the first time I talked them up to someone I knew from church she told me about how they should be banned from elementary school libraries because the subject matter was too advanced and controversial for kindergarteners. WTF? Um, a kindergartener, unless exceptionally advanced, wouldn’t be able to read it. So that is just a ridiculous argument.

I’m celebrating BBW by reading an exceptionally bad novel, and I can’t wait to be done with it. And then I’ll go read An American Tragedy or Sister Carrie (Theodore Dreiser). What are you reading this week?

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I was just browsing blogs (what would that be called? blowsing? brogging?) and found OldGuy’s tip on how to avoid ruining the covers of books you read while soaking in the tub. Packing tape.

I like to read while I’m taking a nice soak. We have a lovely big bathtub, just perfect for lolling in scented bubbles and reading. But in my time I’ve dropped a book or two in the tub, so I learned to only read cheap paperbacks while I’m in the bathroom, the kind I paid 50 cents for from the clearance shelf at Half-Price Books, the kind I won’t get too uptight about should I happen to drop it. (actually, that’s not strictly true; lately I’ve been reading my paperback reprints of the John Bellairs books, and I’d be a little annoyed if any of them got ruined). And, as OldGuy points out, the covers can swell up and get a little mucky, even if you don’t drop the book. He suggests covering the books with packing tape.  Obviously it wouldn’t help with the whole dropping the book thing, unless you covered the whole book with packing tape, in which case you wouldn’t be able to read it.

I’ll let you know how it works. 

And speaking of John Bellairs, his books are frequently challenged by people who make it their business to decide what others should read. The one I just recently finished rereading is The Vengeance of the Witch-Finder, a Bellairs book finished by Brad Strickland. It features Lewis Barnavelt and his uncle Jonathan on holiday in England. It’s a very fast read, and a pleasant way to thumb one’s nose at would-be censors. Go ahead, she says encouragingly, you’ll be glad you did. They’re all deliciously spooky–scared the stink out of me when I was a kid, and even now they can creep me out just a titch. 

In case you’re curious, here’s a list of the Bellairs series and the books in those series. A lot of them are easily available at Half-Price Books and probably eBay for not too much money.

LEWIS BARNAVELT:

  • The House With a Clock in its Walls – frequently challenged/banned due to necromancy.
  • The Figure in the Shadows
  • The Letter, the Witch, and the Ring
  • The Ghost in the Mirror – by Bellairs, completed by Strickland
  • The Vengeance of the Witch-finder – by Bellairs, completed by Strickland
  • The Doom of the Haunted Opera – by Bellairs, completed by Strickland
  • The Specter from the Magician’s Museum – by Strickland
  • The Beast Under the Wizard’s Bridge – by Strickland. I haven’t found this one yet (makes a mental note to check library/eBay)
  • The Tower at the End of the World – by Strickland
  • The Whistle, the Grave, and the Ghost – by Strickland (another one I haven’t found yet)
  • The House Where Nobody Lived – by Strickland (and ditto)

ANTHONY MONDAY

  • The Treasure of Alpheus Winterborn
  • The Dark Secret of Weatherend
  • The Lamp From the Warlock’s Tomb
  • The Mansion in the Mist

JOHNNY DIXON

  • The Curse of the Blue Figurine
  • The Mummy, the Will, and the Crypt
  • The Spell of the Sorcerer’s Skull
  • The Revenge of the Wiard’s Ghost
  • The Eyes of the Killer Robot
  • The Trolley to Yesterday
  • The Chessmen of Doom
  • The Secret of the Underground Room
  • The Drum, the Doll, and the Zombie – by Bellairs, completed by Strickland
  • The Hand of the Necromancer – by Strickland
  • The Bell, the Book, and the Spellbinder – by Strickland
  • The Wrath of the Grinning Ghost – by Strickland

The ones completed by or entirely by Brad Strickland are, in my opinion, as good as those written by Bellairs.

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Banned Book Info

Out of curiosity, I decided to investigate why some of the books on my own personal list had been challenged/banned. Here’s what I found.

 From Banned Books.com:

Fahrenheit 451

by Ray Bradbury

This book is about censorship and those who ban books for fear of creating too much individualism and independent thought. In late 1998, this book was removed from the required reading list of the West Marion High School in Foxworth, Mississippi. A parent complained of the use of the words “God damn” in the book. Subsequently, the superintendent instructed the the teacher to remove the book from the required reading list.

From Wikipedia:

Nineteen Eighty-Four George Orwell Political novel Banned in the USSR for political reasons. Accused of anti-semitism. Challenged in Florida for pro communist and sexual theme.
Ulysses James Joyce Novel Challenged and temporarily banned in the US for its sexual content. Ban overturned in United States v. One Book Called Ulysses.

From Banned Books Online

Aristophanes’ Lysistrata, Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, Boccaccio’s Decameron, Defoe’s Moll Flanders, and various editions of The Arabian Nights were all banned for decades from the U.S. mails under the Comstock Law of 1873. Officially known as the Federal Anti-Obscenity Act, this law banned the mailing of “lewd”, “indecent”, “filthy”, or “obscene” materials. The Comstock laws, while now unenforced, remain for the most part on the books today; the Telecommunications Reform Bill of 1996 even specifically applied some of them to computer networks. The anti-war Lysistrata was banned again in 1967 in Greece, which was then controlled by a military junta.

In Mark Twain’s lifetime, his books Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn were excluded from the juvenile sections of the Brooklyn Public library (among other libraries), and banned from the library in Concord, MA, home of Henry Thoreau. In recent years, some high schools have dropped Huckleberry Finn from their reading lists, or have been sued by parents who want the book dropped. In Tempe, Arizona, a parent’s lawsuit that attempted to get the local high school to remove the book from a required reading list went as far as a federal appeals court in 1998. (The court’s decision in the case, which affirmed Tempe High’s right to teach the book, has some interesting comments about education and racial tensions.) The Tempe suit, and other recent incidents, have often been concerned with the use of the word “nigger”, a word that also got Uncle Tom’s Cabin challenged in Waukegan, Illinois. For a comprehensive web site describing attempts to ban Huckleberry Finn and other Twain works, see the site Huckleberry Finn Debated, by Jim Zwick.

An illustrated edition of “Little Red Riding Hood” was banned in two California school districts in 1989. Following the Little Red-Cap story from Grimm’s Fairy Tales, the book shows the heroine taking food and wine to her grandmother. The school districts cited concerns about the use of alcohol in the story.

From Canada’s Freedom to Read website:

Atwood, Margaret. The Handmaid’s Tale. 2001 – Although there is no known instance of a challenge to this novel in Canada, it ranks 37th on the American Library Associan’s list of the 100 most frequently challenged books in the 1990s. Most recently it caused a controversy when placed on the reading list for senior high school students in Dripping Springs (TX), a town 40 kilometres southwest of Austin. Cause of objection–a group of parents said the book was anti-Christian and pornographic. Update–An ad hoc committee appointed to consider the objections decided to leave the book on the list, although the parents said they would appeal the school board’s decision.

Keyes, Daniel. Flowers for Algernon.

1970. In Cranbrook (BC), the school board banned this science fiction novel from the Grade 9 curriculum and school libraries. The story is about a mentally retarded adult who becomes a genius after having a brain operation. Cause of objection–a parent complained that the book was “filthy and immoral.” Update–The president of the B.C. Teachers’ Federation criticized the book’s removal. The board reconsidered its decision and returned the novel to the school library; however, trustees did not lift the ban ont he book in the curriculum.

From the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression website:

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

Parents of the Blue Valley School District in Kansas are currently petitioning for this and thirteen other books to be removed from all high school classrooms in the district due to “vulgar language, sexual explicitness, or violent imagery that is gratuitously employed.”  To read their objections to this novel, click here.  

The Skull of Truth by Bruce Coville

This book was removed from the Highland, Illinois school district because of its depiction of a gay character. A concerned parent contacted Coville, who helped address the fact that the school board did not follow a proper process in making this decision. Coville says, “The banning of a book is a serious act. To do it in secret undermines the very foundations of a free society.” (Source: Author and local residents of Highland, Illinois).

The Drowning of Stephan Jones by Bette Greene

Library Patrons of Texas protested this book by the award-winning author of Summer of My German Soldier. They objected to the content of the book, in which a young girl is shocked by the hatred – and ultimate violence – her boyfriend shows toward two gay men who move to their small Southern town.

The Anastasia Series by Lois LowryPreteen girls have been enjoying Lowry’s popular Anastasia series for over 25 years. Lowry was shocked to hear that a parent from Polk County School District in Florida wants to remove six of the Anastasia books from school libraries in the district. Kristi Hardee, the mother of a fourth-grader in the district, objects to references to stuffing and snapping bras in the series.  To read more, click here.

The Giver by Lois LowryBlue Valley School District in Kansas reviewed this futuristic novel about a young man’s growing disillusionment with an outwardly utopian society, following parent complaints that it was “lewd” and “twisted.”  Parents also claimed it is “unfit for analysis by students because it is violent, sexually explicit and portrays infanticide and euthanasia.”  One parent said, “This book is negative. I read it. I don’t see the academic value in it. Everything presented to the kids should be positive or historical, not negative.” The novel, which has been compared to Brave New World, won the Newbery Medal in 1994. Proponents of the ban are asking that the book be removed from the entire district’s eighth grade reading list (1/6/05).  To read more about the debate, click here.

Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. TaylorA parent in Oviedo, Florida, demanded that this frequently-challenged, award-winning novel be banned from all schools in Seminole County.  She objected to its depiction of Southern racism, which she considered inappropriate for kids. While Seminole officials allowed the book to remain in schools, they now require specific training for teachers who intend to use the book in classrooms.  To read more, click here.

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain This classic novel was removed from three Renton, Washington high schools after an African-American student complained that the book’s use of the word ‘nigger’ offended her.  Teachers protested that Twain was actually attacking racism and opening the door for important discussions about American history. After reviewing the case, school officials have suspended use of the book in area schools until a panel of teachers and outside advisors develop a sensitive method of presentation.  To read more, click here.

From the Forbidden Library:

1984 . George Orwell. Harcourt. Challenged in the Jackson County, Fla. (1981) because the novel is “pro-communist and contained explicit sexual matter.” Big Brother doesn’t want people reading such things.

Canterbury Tales. Geoffrey Chaucer. Bantam; Bobbs-Merrill; Doubleday; Penguin; Raintree Pubs.; NAL; Univ. of Okla. Pr. People have long been squeamish with this one…It was subjected to revisions as 1928, and editions today tend to avoid four letter words. It was removed from a senior college preparatory literature course at the Eureka, Ill. High School (1995) for sexual content. I believe Chaucer would be amused.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Roald Dahl. Bantam; Knopf; Penguin. Removed from a locked reference collection at the Boulder, Colo. Public Library (1988), where it had been placed because the librarian thought the book espoused a poor philosophy of life.

A Doll’s House. Henrik Ibsen. Penguin. Four members of the Alabama State Textbook Committe (1983)–presumably the same who objected to The Diary of Anne Frank –called for the rejection of this work because it propagates feminist views.

The Figure in the Shadows. John Bellairs. Dell. Restricted at the Dysart Unified School District libraries in El Mirage, Ariz. (1990) because of two uses of profanity and because of its link to magic. This book is terrific for middle school readers. It is the second book in a series which starts with The House With a Clock in its Walls.

A Light in the Attic. Shel Silverstein. Harper. Challenged at the Cunningham Elementary School in Beloit, Wis. (1985) because the book “enourages children to break dishes so they won’t have to dry them.” Removed from Minot, N.Dak. Public School libraries when the superintendent found “suggestive illustrations.” Challenged at the Big Bend Elementary School library in Mukwonago, Wis. (1986) because some of Silverstein’s poems “glorified Satan, suicide and cannibalism, and also encouraged children to be disobedient.”

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. C.S. Lewis. Macmillan. Challenged in the Howard County, Md. school system (1990) because it depicts “graphic violence, mysticism, and gore.” I’m sure the school system would rather have its children reading something which adheres to “good Christian values.” I cannot recommend the works of C.S. Lewis highly enough. The Narnia books, in particular, are great for readers of all ages.

The Lorax. Dr. Seuss. Random. Challenged in the Laytonville, Calif. Unified School District (1989) because it “criminalizes the foresting industry.” Isn’t that the de-foresting industry?

The Odyssey. Homer. Airmont; Doubleday; Harper; Macmillan; MAL; Oxford Univ. Pr.; Penguin. Plato suggested expurgating it for immature readers (387 B.C.) and Caligula tried to suppress it because it expressed Greek ideals of freedom.

Raisin in the Sun. Lorraine Hansberry. Random. The Ogden, Utah School District (1979) restricted circulation of Hansberry’s play in response to criticism from an anti-pornography organization. Did they read the same play I read?

Where the Sidewalk Ends. Shel Silverstein. Harper. Challenged at the West Allis-West Milwaukee, Wis. school libraries (1986) because the book “suggests drug use, the occult, suicide, death, violence, disrespect for truth, disrespect for legitimate authority, rebellion against parents.” Challenged at the Central Columbia School District in Bloomsburg, Pa. (1993) because a poem titled “Dreadful” talks about how “someone ate the baby.” On the other hand, this book does present the negative consequences of not taking the garbage out.

Where’s Waldo? Martin Handford. Little. Challenged at the Public Libraries of Saginaw, Mich. (1989), Removed from the Springs Public School library in East Hampton, N.Y. (1993) because there is a tiny drawing of a woman lying on the beach wearing a bikini bottom but no top. Yes, but did they find Waldo?

The Witches of Worm. Zilpha Keatley Snyder. Atheneum. Challenged at the Hays, Kans. Public Library (1989) because it “could lead young readers to embrace satanism.” The Newbery Award-winning book was retained on the approved reading list at Matthew Henson Middle School in Waldorf, Md. (1991) despite objections to its references to the occult.

A Wrinkle In Time. Madeleine L’Engle. Dell. Challenged at the Polk City, Fla. Elementary School (1985) by a parent who believed that the story promotes witchcraft, crystal balls, and demons. Challenged in the Anniston Ala. schools (1990). The complainant objected to the book’s listing the name of Jesus Christ together with the names of great artists, philosophers, scientists, and religious leaders when referring to those who defend earth against evil. Got it. Let’s cross Jesus off that list, shall we?

MY CONCLUSIONS:

People are stupid. One could argue all day about how Mark Twain was arguing against racism, as was Harper Lee, but it would be worse than arguing with a brick wall. The brick wall would not argue back. One could argue all day about how George Orwell was pointing out that Communism is a bad thing, and how  the things he depicts in 1984 are things vastly to be undesired. Again, the brick wall would not argue back, but the people in favor of banning 1984 would continue to insist that the book espouses Communism.

So the best way to fight this stupidity is not to waste your time arguing with those stupid people. It is to write good books, regardless of what those stupid people will say or do about them. Read good books, even if they have been banned or challenged. Become a banned or challenged book. Participate in activities like Banned Book Week, but don’t limit yourself to one week a year. Wear your Banned Books tee-shirt even when it’s not banned books week. Be loud, outspoken, obnoxious. And don’t be stupid! Of course, if you were stupid, you wouldn’t be reading this blog, now would you?

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Banned Book Review #2

The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood, is an engrossing and well-written dystopian fantasy.  Picture a world where women are not permitted to read, write, have jobs, or, frankly, do much of anything. What makes it worse is that the current state of affairs hasn’t been in existence that long. The Handmaid narrator, Offred, remembers taking long luxurious drags on cigarettes, going to college, working, meeting her lover Luke (later her husband) at tawdry motels that to her were still a form of escape.

Some women in this new world are Wives. They wear blue, and have seemingly few things to celebrate. Once in a while they’ll get together with the other Wives, and some of the Handmaids, like when there is a birth. But otherwise, it seems that they sit around the house crocheting or gardening–for pleasure, perhaps a little service, but not for any real need.

There are lower classes of women, some of whom are servants and some who are married to the poor and unimportant men.

And then there are the Handmaids. Handmaids wear red clothes, red shoes, and white hats with wide wings that limit their vision and make it difficult for others to look them over as well. Handmaids are women who have shown they are fertile by producing one or more children. In this new world, there is a lot of infertility, and the Handmaids are the hope of the future.

Offred describes the monthly insemination effort, the Ceremony. The Wife (Serena Joy, in this case) lays supine on the bed. The Handmaid, still fully clad except for her knickers, lays supine as well, resting her head on the Wife’s pelvic bone.  And for the rest, we’ll turn to her own words: “My red skirt is hitched up to my waist, though no higher. Below it the Commander is fucking. What he is fucking is the lower part of my body. I do not say making love because this is not what he’s doing. Copulating too would be inaccurate, because it would imply two people and only one is involved. Nor does rape cover it: nothing is going on here that I haven’t signed up for. There wasn’t a lot of choice but there was some, and this is what I chose.”

The narrative rambles from the things going on in the present to the Handmaid’s memories, and can be a little hard to follow. She learns of a resistance movement. She is curious when the Commander gets word to her that he wants to see her in private, something strictly against the code of behavior. She is stunned when, once alone, he merely wants to play Scrabble with her. 

She forms an attachment to Nick, the Commander’s chauffeur and fact-totum, and they have their own trysts of passionate lovemaking. Near the end of the book the Handmaid hopes (fears?) that she is pregnant not with the Commander’s child but with Nick’s. Still, should that be the case, the child would still belong to the Commander and his wife.  The Handmaid owned nothing, not even a name. Her name now is Offred; if she were to go to another Commander, her name would be Of + whatever that Commander’s name would be. We learn that she tells Nick her real name, but she never tells us.

The story winds its way through the Handmaid’s past and present, and ends abruptly. The Historical Notes at the end of the book tell us how the story was found, and how it was pieced together, as well as anything that could be inferred about the identity of the Handmaid, the Wife, and the Commander.

Why was this book challenged or banned? I don’t know. Once more a brilliant piece of literature is attacked because someone saw something s/he didn’t like in it, and decided that no one should read it.

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Banned Book Review #1

The Figure in the Shadows
John Bellairs

John Bellairs’ books are very dark, gothic, and spooky. I remember reading them when I was a kid, and finding them incredibly terrifying. They no longer terrify me, as I’ve seen enough of the real world to be terrified by it, but the atmosphere is still as dark and spooky as I remember.

Lewis Barnavelt is an orphan, and is living with his Uncle Jonathan in New Zebedee, Michigan. His Uncle Jonathan is a wizard and the best friend of an even more powerful magician, Mrs. Zimmerman, their next-door neighbor. Lewis is chubby and very insecure; he spends his lunch hours hiding out at home because he doesn’t want to be picked on by the tough kids at school. His best–and only, other than Uncle Jonathan and Mrs. Zimmerman–friend is Rose Rita Pottinger.

We quickly realize how insecure Lewis is at the beginning of the book, when he sneaks his Sherlock Holmes hat out of the house in a bag. He wants to wear it on Main Street, only for a few blocks. Rose Rita doesn’t understand why he doesn’t have the self confidence to just wear it whenever and wherever he wants to. But Lewis’s fears prove correct: bully Woody Mingo steals it from him and saunters off nonchalantly.

That evening, in an effort to cheer Lewis up, Uncle Jonathan proposes a diversion. Lewis’ great-grandfather Barnavelt’s trunk is still in the house, and it seems like a good night to unpack the trunk. The diversion works. Lewis is admittedly dismayed to learn that his great-grandfather never actually saw any action in the Civil War, having been shot in the leg after a poker game. But the stories are fascinating, and when Lewis is given his great-grandfather’s lucky coin, he hopes that perhaps things will change. Mrs. Zimmerman quickly dashes that hope, however, as she quickly tests the coin and proclaims that it is, unfortunately, not a magic amulet.

Lewis keeps it anyway. At school things get rougher. He catches Rose Rita fighting with Woody Mingo, and is devastated that his best friend–a gu-url–is fighting his battles. He dreams of being strong, brave, of beating the living daylights out of Woody Mingo. He and Rose Rita continue building their balsa galley in their spare time. One night they decide they need to find a Latin motto to decorate the flag, and check out the books in Uncle Jonathan’s library. Most of Uncle Jonathan’s books on magic have been put away, as he was concerned about Lewis’s unhealthy interest in them. But he missed one, and the children find Mrs. Zimmerman’s dissertation. They’re scanning through it when Lewis finds a passage about testing amulets in another way, a method that will detect extremely rare and powerful amulets. Rose Rita is bored, but Lewis insists they test his lucky coin. Rose Rita holds the books while Lewis performs the ritual. The elements respond to the ritual, and Rose Rita is shaken as she asks Lewis if anything happened. Lewis impassively says no, and they get back to work on their galley.

But Lewis is lying.

The rest of the book carries us along with Lewis as things really begin to change for him. He gets into a fight with Woody Mingo, and a force outside of himself propels his fist into Woody’s nose at the moment when he himself was hesitant. It worked; Woody began to leave him alone. Lewis’ friends notice that he is different, but chalk it up to his abortive attempts to diet and get into shape. Finally Lewis gets the courage to tell Rose Rita the truth: the amulet did respond to the ritual. She takes it from him and tells him that she dropped it into the sewer. In reality, however, she keeps it, thinking that perhaps it will be of benefit to him when he is an adult.

Bereft of his talisman, Lewis is tormented once more by Woody Mingo who senses that Lewis is his normal cowardly self again. One day Lewis has the sudden thought that perhaps Rose Rita didn’t destroy his amulet. He searches for it, and the series of events that follows nearly culminates in Lewis’ death. Fortunately, Uncle Jonathan, Mrs. Zimmerman, and Rose Rita save the day.

John Bellairs wrote three separate series of middle-grade stories: the Lewis Barnavelt series(with Uncle Jonathan, Mrs. Zimmerman, and Rose Rita); the Anthony Monday series(with Miss Eels and her brother, Emerson Eels); and my favorites, the Johnny Dixon series(with Professor Roderick Childermass, Fergie, Father Higgins, and some othre assorted characters). There is no question that the stories are dark and frightening, but there is also no question as to where Mr. Bellairs aligned himself. The stories always end with good triumphing over evil. There is a lot of occult mythology in the stories, and perhaps it is this that gets them challenged or banned. It is a pity, though, because the characters are compelling and the stories fascinating. It doesn’t matter how many times I’ve read these stories; I still enjoy them each time.

Mr. Bellairs is dead, and the series was continued by Brad Strickland. The books are available in bookstores such as Barnes and Noble and Amazon in new editions. If you haven’t read any, I’d recommend starting with A House With a Clock in the Walls, which is the first book in the Lewis Barnavelt series. Go! Read! Rebel!

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The Banned Books Challenge

Go sign up. You can do it right here. Go ahead; I’ll wait.

I signed up to read 10 banned books during the challenge, although knowing myself I’ll read quite a few more.

If you know me at all, even a little bit, you know how much I loathe and detest censorship. I could probably find you dozens of quotations to illustrate my point, but I don’t have time. So I’m just going to do a quick meme. I don’t know if it’s already out there, or if it’s my own invention, but whichever, it’s a fun one. It’s like the 100 Books meme I did the other day, but with a twist.

Out of the 100 Most Frequently Challenged Books of 1990-2000 list, which ones have you read? Bold them. Which ones are in your library? Place a + in front of them. Which ones do you want to read? Italicize them. Which ones will you read for the Banned Books Challenge? Make them large. And which ones are you just not interested in reading? Make them tiny. It’s okay if you don’t want to read a book. Just don’t try to take it away from others who do want to read it! And, because I always have to, there will be comments for some of the books.

Scary Stories (Series) by Alvin Schwartz

Daddy’s Roommate by Michael Willhoite

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou. That this book gets challenged just seems ridiculous to me. She’s writing about her very painful and difficult life. “Gee, lady, your childhood just sucked. You don’t have the right to share your lessons with anyone else who might be going through them. And, sorry kids, but I don’t care how much you have in common with this woman, you may not read her book to see if you can learn anything from her. So what if she’s an allegedly great poet? Have you read her poems? Why, they’re just as immoral as they can be!”

The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier. Read it, didn’t particularly like it, but found it very chilling.

+The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck. This is one of those books I “should” read, and have thus refused to do so. I’m sure I’ll read it, but probably not until I’m 86.

+Harry Potter (Series) by J.K. Rowling Gosh, rereading this for the Challenge is going to suck. Seriously.

Forever by Judy Blume. I read everything I could find by Judy Blume when I was an angst-ridden teenager.

Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson.

Alice (Series) by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor

Heather Has Two Mommies by Leslea Newman

My Brother Sam is Dead by James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier

The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger I know this book was supposed to be THE book for disenchanted teenagers, but I hated it. I hated it as a teenager, and I hated it as an adult. I haven’t read it in a long time, but I would not be surprised to find that I still hate it.

+The Giver by Lois Lowry This is just a marvelous book, as are the two sequels to it that I have read. I can’t understand why this would be on a challenged/banned book list.

It’s Perfectly Normal by Robie Harris

Goosebumps (Series) by R.L. Stine These are silly little scary stories. Nonsensical bosh.

A Day No Pigs Would Die by Robert Newton Peck

The Color Purple by Alice Walker

Sex by Madonna I’m not a Madonna fan.

Earth’s Children (Series) by Jean M. Auel

The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Paterson

+A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle Why does this book get challenged? Some kids who have a lot of trouble fitting in manage to save the father of two of the children and, not so coincidentally, find a place for themselves. Gosh, that’s just terrible! Better get that book off the shelves, Jed!

Go Ask Alice by Anonymous A dreadful little book, but it scared the stink out of me when I was a teenager.

Fallen Angels by Walter Dean Myers I read this for a YA Lit class in college. It’s an outstanding book!!

In the Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak

The Stupids (Series) by Harry Allard

+The Witches by Roald Dahl
This is a great book! What’s wrong with it? Does it promote Satanism and the occult? No, a little boy and his grandmother fight the Grand High Witch and kick her butt!

The New Joy of Gay Sex by Charles Silverstein

Anastasia Krupnik (Series) by Lois Lowry Another one I just don’t get the banning of. This series is hysterical. There’s one book that’s actually about Sam, Anastasia’s little brother, and he’s trying to make a special perfume for his mother’s birthday. He collects all the smells she says she likes, and the result is so funny that I literally was rolling on the floor laughing my ass off.

The Goats by Brock Cole

Kaffir Boy by Mark Mathabane

Blubber by Judy Blume

Killing Mr. Griffin by Lois Duncan

Halloween ABC by Eve Merriam

We All Fall Down by Robert Cormier

Final Exit by Derek Humphry

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George

The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison

What’s Happening to my Body? Book for Girls: A Growing-Up Guide for Parents & Daughters by Lynda Madaras

+To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee I wonder why this one gets banned and challenged so much. Is it the unflattering depictions of the whites in this small town in Alabama? Is it the perceived servile attitude of Calpurnia? Becuase if you think Calpurnia’s servile, you’ve got another think coming! This is an awesome book, with some of the greatest characters ever created.

Beloved by Toni Morrison

The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
The Pigman by Paul Zindel I liked this book quite a bit when I was a teenager, and had it and all of Paul Zindel’s other books. I read them ragged. I don’t care so much for them now, but they moved me at a time in my life when I needed what they had to say. Their characters aren’t plastic dolls who move and act in a way no human would. They’re flawed. Just like we are.

Bumps in the Night by Harry Allard

Deenie by Judy Blume

+Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes
This is a heartbreaking work of staggering genius. When I talk to book people who haven’t read this one, I always either get it for them or encourage them to read it.

Annie on my Mind by Nancy Garden

The Boy Who Lost His Face by Louis Sachar

Cross Your Fingers, Spit in Your Hat by Alvin Schwartz

+A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein That this book is banned or challenged just tells me that some people have no sense of humor whatsoever, and have never learned to laugh at themselves. That is a very sad thing.

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

Sleeping Beauty Trilogy by A.N. Roquelaure (Anne Rice) I actually only read the first book in this trilogy. It was disgusting. I felt filthy, and hated it so much that instead of taking it back to Half Price Books to sell, I threw it away. I can completely understand why someone wouldn’t want their kids reading it, but no responsible librarian would place it in a school library anyway. So banning it is pointless. If you don’t want to read it, don’t read it.

Asking About Sex and Growing Up by Joanna Cole You’ll notice that I’ve skipped over a lot of these sex and growing up type books. Well, I know about sex. And I don’t have any kids that I need to share these kinds of things with. I’m not being a frigid person who refuses to admit that sex exists. I just don’t have any need or desire to read these.

Cujo by Stephen King There are plenty of Stephen King books I like. There are plenty I don’t. This is one that I’m just not interested in. So I’m not going to read it. If you want to, please, feel free.

James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl

The Anarchist Cookbook by William Powell

Boys and Sex by Wardell Pomeroy

Ordinary People by Judith Guest

American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis

What’s Happening to my Body? Book for Boys: A Growing-Up Guide for Parents & Sons by Lynda Madaras

Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume A girl explores her identity in reference to her faith. Gosh, better get that one off the shelves!

Crazy Lady by Jane Conly

Athletic Shorts by Chris Crutcher

Fade by Robert Cormier

Guess What? by Mem Fox

The House of Spirits by Isabel Allende

The Face on the Milk Carton by Caroline Cooney

Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut

+Lord of the Flies by William Golding

Native Son by Richard Wright

Women on Top: How Real Life Has Changed Women’s Fantasies by Nancy Friday

Curses, Hexes and Spells by Daniel Cohen

Jack by A.M. Homes

Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo A. Anaya

Where Did I Come From? by Peter Mayle

Carrie by Stephen King

Tiger Eyes by Judy Blume

On My Honor by Marion Dane Bauer

Arizona Kid by Ron Koertge

Family Secrets by Norma Klein

Mommy Laid An Egg by Babette Cole

The Dead Zone by Stephen King

+The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain

Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison

Always Running by Luis Rodriguez

Private Parts by Howard Stern

Where’s Waldo? by Martin Hanford

Summer of My German Soldier by Bette Greene

Little Black Sambo by Helen Bannerman

Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett

Running Loose by Chris Crutcher

Sex Education by Jenny Davis

The Drowning of Stephen Jones by Bette Greene

Girls and Sex by Wardell Pomeroy

How to Eat Fried Worms by Thomas Rockwell

View from the Cherry Tree by Willo Davis Roberts

The Headless Cupid by Zilpha Keatley Snyder

The Terrorist by Caroline Cooney

Jump Ship to Freedom by James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier

The other books I plan to read for the challenge I found at some other Banned Book sites and are:

Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein. I’ve read this many times, and welcome the opportunity to enjoy Silverstein’s nonsense and rebel against narrow-mindedness at the same time!

Ulysses by James Joyce. I’ve never read this one. It seems that I’ve tried it once or twice, but this is as good a time as any to give it another go.

The Crucible by Arthur Miller. Another one that I completely adore.

The Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean M. Auel. This has been on my to-be-read list for quite some time. It’s time to get it off that list and onto the list of books I have read.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl. This is another one that I’ve read and reread. It never fails to charm and delight.

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. I have read this one so many times it’s ridiculous. I’ve given away copies of it during Banned Book Week. This is the best! And what sublime irony that expurgated copies of it were passed out to students!

Figure in the Shadows by John Bellairs. I love John Bellairs, and have everything he published. His books scared the crap out of me when I was a kid. I find them less scary now, but they are no less enthralling.

1984 by George Orwell. When I read that this was challenged/banned due to “pro-Communist sentiments,” my first response was WTF? To the people who think that, I have this to say, “Better to say nothing and be thought a fool, than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.”

So what about you? What are your plans? C’mon–be a rebel!

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