“It was a dark and stormy night.”
Ah, Banned Books Week always makes me rub my hands together in delight and dust off my old, decrepit paperback books. Taped covers, “bookworm” holes and dog eared pages – nothing beats a great book…..
Unless it’s been banned. Just like bad boys, if a book is deemed “bad”, well, hell’s bells, I can’t wait to read it, or at least see what all the fuss is about. Many of the books I’ve read, I didn’t even realize were banned.
Let me share the list of my top five banned books that I read over and over again. You knew there was going to be a list!!
1. 1984 by George Orwell – “Do it to Julia!” I can’t say that I “enjoyed” this book as a matter of entertainment, but it sure did make one think. As a romance writer, I notice many authors are accused of creating insta-love between the two protagonists. Well, 1984 has one of the quickest cases of “insta-love” that I’ve ever read, with note passing to boot!
Reasons for challenge: “pro-communist and contained explicit sexual matter.”
2. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee – “I think there’s just one kind of folks. Folks.”
Gosh another “downer ending” book. Atticus lost the case, Tom Robinson got shot. Poor Mayella Ewell. But at least Bob Ewell got his just desserts….and Boo Radley….we’ll never know. You laughed, you cried and yes, it has become a part of me.
Reasons for challenge: Using the word “damn” and “hell devil”. Does “psychological damage to the positive integration process “. Uses the word “nigger”. “Conflicted with the values of the community.” The book has also been charged with being unfit for junior high use. “Contains profanity and racial slurs”. “Is degrading to African Americans.”
The last reason make me laugh. Anyone remember how tough Calpurnia was on Jem and Scout?
3. A Wrinkle in Time: “Don’t try to comprehend with your mind. Your minds are very limited. Use your intuition.”
I can’t say enough how much I adore this book. Science fiction, themes of love and forgiveness, and a little love story to boot. Plus a female lead who was smart and wore glasses AND braces? Sign me up! The discussion of a tesseract (which is now termed a wormhole), space travel and life on other planets.
Reason for challenge: Challenging religious beliefs, contains offensive language.
4. In Cold Blood – First of all, let me say that Philip Seymour Hoffman was capitivating in his portrayal of Truman Capote in Truman. It is also said that the characater of Dill in To Kill a Mockinbird was based on him. Regardless of the personal history between he and Harper Lee, this book is one of the first “true-ish crime” books that I’ve ever read. It’s not a “fun, light” read, not by any means, but a truly excellent and absorbing read just the same. Capote knows how to write a book that captures the reader and pulls him in.
Reason for challenge: “sex, violence and profanity.”
5. A Separate Peace – “Sarcasm… the protest of those who are weak.”
I saw this book the other day under my dresser. Gosh, I read it so long ago, but it sure sticks with me. Gene’s jealously of Finney and what it ultimately led to.
Reason for challenge: “filthy, trashy sex novel.” “Offensive language”.
Lord of the Flies
The Autobiography of Malcolm X
It’s funny now that I look over this list. I read a lot of these books in high school and/or college, and to be honest, the real meaning and themes within the book didin’t hit home until I actually got out of school and began to “live”. It’s interesting now, looking back, how many of these books were truly ahead of their time.
So hey! What are some of your favorite books that have been challenged or banned?