Most of the problems with challenged books (which is the more accurate term because books don’t always get banned or burned these days, but still challenged) seems to center around schools and public libraries, and in fact BBW is sponsored by the American Library Association along with American Booksellers Association, American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression, American Society of Journalists and Authors, Association of American Publishers, National Association of College Stores, Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, National Coalition Against Censorship, National Council of Teachers of English, and PEN American Center.
I suppose maybe there may have been challenges to bookstores, but when you walk into Barnes and Noble or Books A Million you vote with your dollar. I don’t want to read the Twilight books, so I don’t buy them. Not because I necessarily have anything against sex between sparkly vampires and werewolves or whateverthehell, but because I don’t want to read about sparkly vampires period. In fact, as we’ve previously discussed, I’m pretty much burned out on vampires. But I think you and Boodles and anybody else who wants to read about vampires, sparkly or non-sparkly, should be able to.
Should there be some age restrictions? Sure, within limits. I don’t think 8 year old Boodles needs to be reading about sexy vampires just yet. I’m happy for her to read The Secret Garden and Junie B. Jones books, but for all I know those books have probably been challenged too somewhere. After all, The Secret Garden has a little girl’s parents dying, and that Junie B. Jones? She’s got an attitude.
Here’s something I found out, of the Radcliffe Publishing Course’s list of the top 100 novels of the 20th Century, almost half have been banned or challenged at one time or another. The books that I have read are in red. Get it? Read?
1. The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald
2. The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger
3. The Grapes of Wrath, by John Steinbeck
4. To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
5. The Color Purple, by Alice Walker
6. Ulysses, by James Joyce
7. Beloved, by Toni Morrison – I read this one in a lit class that I took at Santa Monica College (SMC) when I went back to school in the 90s.
8. The Lord of the Flies, by William Golding
9. 1984, by George Orwell – I found a paperback copy in the early 80s, and wanted to make a point of reading it in the year 1984, but in 1984 I was in Canada with Youth With A Mission and I hadn’t brought it with me. I read it a couple years later.
11. Lolita, by Vladmir Nabokov
12. Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck – I saw the play while taking a theater class at SMC, and read the book around the same time.
15. Catch-22, by Joseph Heller
16. Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley – Read it in high school.
17. Animal Farm, by George Orwell – Also high school.
18. The Sun Also Rises, by Ernest Hemingway
19. As I Lay Dying, by William Faulkner
20. A Farewell to Arms, by Ernest Hemingway
23. Their Eyes Were Watching God, by Zora Neale Hurston
24. Invisible Man, by Ralph Ellison
25. Song of Solomon, by Toni Morrison
26. Gone with the Wind, by Margaret Mitchell
27. Native Son, by Richard Wright
28. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, by Ken Kesey
29. Slaughterhouse-Five, by Kurt Vonnegut – Read it in the early 90s after seeing the movie a couple times.
30. For Whom the Bell Tolls, by Ernest Hemingway
33. The Call of the Wild, by Jack London
36. Go Tell it on the Mountain, by James Baldwin
38. All the King’s Men, by Robert Penn Warren
40. The Lord of the Rings, by J.R.R. Tolkien – Read the whole trilogy and The Hobbit during my sci-fi/fantasy geek period in the 80s.
45. The Jungle, by Upton Sinclair
48. Lady Chatterley’s Lover, by D.H. Lawrence
49. A Clockwork Orange, by Anthony Burgess
50. The Awakening, by Kate Chopin
53. In Cold Blood, by Truman Capote
55. The Satanic Verses, by Salman Rushdie
57. Sophie’s Choice, by William Styron
64. Sons and Lovers, by D.H. Lawrence
66. Cat’s Cradle, by Kurt Vonnegut
67. A Separate Peace, by John Knowles
73. Naked Lunch, by William S. Burroughs
74. Brideshead Revisited, by Evelyn Waugh
75. Women in Love, by D.H. Lawrence
80. The Naked and the Dead, by Norman Mailer
84. Tropic of Cancer, by Henry Miller
88. An American Tragedy, by Theodore Dreiser
97. Rabbit, Run, by John Updike
So I’m starting a new experiment. This week I’m starting my Year of Reading Dangerously (it’s not original *sigh*). For the next year I’m going to read as many of these books as I can and, of course, because you my fervent readers are entitled to my opinion I will report and review the books.
Part of the reason I want to do this is to do my part for freedom of speech, but also because I need to read more good literature.
I’m going to the library tonight or tomorrow and see what I can find (looking for banned books in a southern red state library sounds delightfully subversive to me). I will report back after I have read it.