Posts Tagged ‘banned books’

This is probably one of my most favorite events of all time, not because I am for banning any books but because it tends to have the exact opposite effect on reading.

The list of Banned Books varies from year-to-year and while I am an advocate of age-appropriate distribution of certain books, I am also a failure at monitoring my own children when it came to certain books.

I hid The Color Purple by Alice Walked in my bedroom, deeming it highly inappropriate for my pre-teen daughter.

I didn’t miss it until she’d read it and was ready to replace it.

She didn’t know it was “banned” so she didn’t hide the fact that she borrowed it from me.

We rented the movie and made it a Girl’s Weekend of Great Movies and popcorn.

Banned Book = Teachable Moment.

(We also rented The Stepford Wives, Whatever Happened to Baby Jane and The Birds.)

My son discovered Catch-22 by Joseph Heller and A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess before he was 14. He used to quote Catch-22.

I read A Separate Peace by John Knowles every year throughout high school.

My dad borrowed Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger from me when I was 16. I was quite worried about what my dad would say when he returned the book (a library book) to me. All he said was, “You know that kid is in a nuthouse, don’t you?”

Banned Book = Teachable Moment with your parent.

I just set down Micro by Michael Crichton and Richard Preston (Preston finished the novel for Crichton) in time for Banned Books Week. (It is not one of Crichton’s best and is written like a screenplay (not surprised to see it is already a film). Now that I have my hands free to read a really good novel, I think I will tackle one on the Banned Books List.

I think I will start with a scam on how not to white wash a fence and still get paid for it.

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Banned Books Week

I was just reading my friend’s blog (Tea With Dee) and I thought I should follow in her footsteps: I need to blog about Banned Books Week.

Of the Top 100 Banned/Challenged Books, I have read:

Harry Potter Series

Of Mice & Men

His Dark Materials

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (at least twice)

The Color Purple

Go Ask Alice

Catcher in the Rye

To Kill A Mockingbird

Snow Falling on Cedars

Slaughterhouse Five

The Kite Runner

Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry

A Time to Kill

Farenheit 451 (about banning books, oddly enough)

The Lovely Bones

A Prayer for Owen Meany

A Wrinkle in Time

One book in the Goosebumps series

Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret

and I have watched the movie version of:

The Bridge to Terabithia

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

The Face on the Milk Carton

I see the list has changed since the last time I checked it out (Lord of the Flies has dropped off!), so I have a lot of reading to catch up on. I think it is an honorable thing to read Banned Books. The entire reason I read one of the Goosebumps books was because I wanted to know if they were truly worthy of being banned or not (not – they’re just poor literature, IMO. If we ban books for being poor literature, than 90% of “Christian” literature should be banned.) I am surprised that the “Twilight” series isn’t on the list.

I can understand that maybe some parent felt that their own child was not ready to read a certain book when it was presented to them. I remember when a girlfriend called me up to complain about a book her 6th grader was being forced to read. Somewhere in the book, the father says “God Damn It.” I promised my friend I would read the book & get back to her on it.

The book? Cheaper by the Dozen – seriously. I think I laughed so hard I rolled off of my chair. I never told this woman that the copy of “Goosebumps” that I read belonged to her daughter. I just assured her that Cheaper by the Dozen was about as wholesome as it gets. Seriously.

I am guilty of hiding books from my children, too. I kept The Color Purple in my bedroom because I did not want my pre-teen children reading it. Then one day I happened to notice it was missing from my bookshelf. My voracious reader had become bored and decided to browse my personal book shelf. She didn’t know those books were Verbotten: she just thought they were favorites of mine.

She was already finished with the book when I asked her about it, so we rented the movie and made it a Girl’s Night. (We also rented Whatever Happened to Baby Jane and The Stepford Wives. I figured if she could stomach The Color Purple, she could handle those movies…)

I read Catcher in the Rye twice before my dad borrowed it from me my senior year. I remember waiting with bated breath to hear what he thought of it (particularly the chapter on the “F” word). All he said when he returned the book to me was, “That boy is in a mental hospital, you know that, right?”

There are worse things in life than what our children read. I read (I am ashamed to admit this) Coffee, Tea or Me when I was in high school. It’s never made the Banned Books list, possibly because it is such a trashy novel that it just was never popular enough to raise a parental eyebrow. Diana Gabaldon’s Outsider series and Jean Auel’s Earth’s Children series are a lot more graphic but are so much better written. They aren’t on the Banned Book’s list, either.

I am convinced that some books on the list (The Color Purple, To Kill A Mockingbird, Huck Finn) are just there because they use the “N” word – in context, in conversation, and according to the time they were set in. The moral of the story has no bearing on the ban. The feeling of the main character as it relates to the use of that word has no bearing on the ban. It’s just that it is in print.

In the movie “The Book of Eli”, the main character (Denzel Washington) is carrying a book across the continent to some unknown purpose. His greatest nemesis is a man who collects books, seeking the “one and only remaining copy” of a certain book because that book has all the power in the world contained within it. All books were burned after the last holocaust, specifically copies of this particular book because the powers that were determined it was this book that caused all the wars to begin with.

It wasn’t the Q’uran (which some small-time pastor in Florida recently threatened to burn copies of to make some sort of point about his opinion of Islam). (Thankfully, the pastor changed his mind or we’d be in one heck of a Holy War because of his stupidity. Burning and Banning books NEVER works)

But off my soap box. The Book of Eli was a sacred book all right. It was the KJV Bible. Because we all know God wrote the Bible in King James English.

(Don’t argue with me. I love the KJV.)

You need to watch The Book of Eli, by the way. It has some interesting twists, especially about the “BOOK”.

Anyway, my motto during Banned Books week is this: if it is on the list, I need to read it to find out why it is on the list. I used to have a longer list of books I’d read that were banned, but I’ve fallen short in recent years. I think I will start with Maya Angelou. I’ve been meaning to read I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings for years…

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