It’s Banned Books Week!
This is the week where we celebrate the most important thing for those of us who are addicted to the written word: Freedom to write and express ideas, even if they are unpopular.
Here are the most challenged titles from 2013 (from bannedbooksweek.org):
- Captain Underpants (series), by Dav Pilkey
Reasons: Offensive language, unsuited for age group, violence
- The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison
Reasons: Offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group, violence
- The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie
Reasons: Drugs/alcohol/smoking, offensive language, racism, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group
- Fifty Shades of Grey, by E.L. James
Reasons: Nudity, offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group
- The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins
Reasons: Religious viewpoint, unsuited to age group
- A Bad Boy Can Be Good for A Girl, by Tanya Lee Stone
Reasons: Drugs/alcohol/smoking, nudity, offensive language, sexually explicit
- Looking for Alaska, by John Green
Reasons: Drugs/alcohol/smoking, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group
- The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky
Reasons: drugs/alcohol/smoking, homosexuality, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group
- Bless Me Ultima, by Rudolfo Anaya
Reasons: Occult/Satanism, offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit
- Bone (series), by Jeff Smith
Reasons: Political viewpoint, racism, violence
In total there were 307 challenges reported to the Office of Intellectual Freedom in 2013!
I had to take a break from it because I needed to read A Man Called Ove for book club, but I’m in the middle of reading The Name of the Rose, and of course Harry Potter is constantly being reported because of the magic elements. I’m also still trekking through Anna Karenina.
What banned books are you reading this week?
Speaking of John Green…
I just finished Paper Towns. Like all of his books, this is yet another emotional roller coaster, with a bit of a road trip built in. At this point, after reading four of his books, I feel like I know what I’m getting when I pick up a JG YA novel.
1. A smallish group of high school friends
2. An emotional compromised situation
3. Some sort of match to light a fire in the situation
4. A big FUCK YOU ending
This one had a lot of similarities to Looking for Alaska, in that one of the main characters were 1) an off beat, moody teenage girl who no one really understands, and 2) an awkward, nerdy boy “hero” who is in love with said off beat moody teenage girl. Girl causes catastrophe at end of school year.
Similar themes, but different situations, and Paper Towns was not nearly as emotionally charged, in my opinion. I didn’t feel like throwing the book out the window nearly as much as I did at the end of LFA. Still a great book though!
John Green is getting a lot of notoriety lately, mostly for The Fault in Our Stars. I have read three of his books now (The Abundance of Katherines being the first), and Looking for Alaska is by far my favorite. It is also one I have never heard anyone speak of. The only way I found it was because it popped up on my library’s ebook website.
This is another Young Adult fiction book about kids in boarding school. Is that a common thing? I keep reading about it, but I’ve never known anyone who attends, especially Americans! We all went to good ol’ public school here in Indiana. Anyways…a group of kids in boarding school down in Alabama. Up to no good, obviously, like any teenagers you know.
Of course, because it’s John Green, you will want to throw the book out the window at the end. And you will cry. There’s just no helping it. I don’t know how he does it, but Green elicits such a huge emotional reaction out of books about normal situations. Say what you want about him–the man has talent.
I will leave you with a quote from the end of the book, because my husband is putting dinner on the table and I need to log off.
“So I know she forgives me, just as I forgive her. Thomas Edison’s last words were: ‘It’s very beautiful over there.’ I don’t know where there is, but I believe it’s somewhere, and I hope it’s beautiful.”