Thursday, September 27, 2007

Thursday Thirteen #28: Banned Books Week

This Saturday kicks off the 26th anniversary of BANNED BOOKS WEEK, which runs through Oct 6. Banned Books Week is the ALA's annual celebration of the right to read who and what we want. It's a time to reflect on this fundamental freedom, to cherish this First Amendment right, and to read what you want to read, no matter what anyone else thinks of that choice. As the author of Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury, said, "You don't have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them."

13 Banned Books I Have Read

1. ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT by Erich Maria Remarque (Anti-war novel) -- Banned in Nazi Germany for demoralizing and insulting the Wehrmacht.
2. ANIMAL FARM by George Orwell (Political novella) -- Publication delayed in UK because of anti-Stalin theme. Confiscated in Germany by Allied troops. Banned in 1946 in Yugoslavia.
3. BLACK BEAUTY by Anna Sewell (Novel) -- Was banned in South Africa because of the use of the word 'black' in the title.
4. CANDIDE by Voltaire (Novel) -- Seized by US Customs in 1930 for obscenity. (Was required reading for a college French lit class.)
5. CATCHER IN THE RYE by J.D. Salinger (Novel) -- Banned in various US public schools and libraries for sexual situations and immorality.
6. CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE by Henry David Thoreau (Essay) -- Removed from US libraries during McCarthyism. Banned in South Africa.
7. FLOWERS FOR ALGERNON by Daniel Keyes (Novel) -- Banned in 1970 in the school boards of Cranbrook, British Columbia, Canada as well as Calgary, Alberta, for situations involving sex and alcohol consumption.
8. THE LORAX by Dr. Seuss (Children's book) -- Banned in parts of the US for being an allegorical political commentary. (Are you kidding me? We saw the animated film about 50 times in grade school—basically every other day we were kept indoors at lunch due to rain or extreme cold temperatures. It was one of my favorite Seuss stories.)
9. OF MICE AND MEN by John Steinbeck (Novel) -- Banned by some schools and libraries in the United states for promoting "euthanasia" and use of profanity from May 1983 to May 1984, and also in 1993 and 1994. This book is no longer banned.
10. THE DAVINCI CODE by Dan Brown (Novel) -- Banned in Egypt in 2006 because, “We ban any book that insults any religion.” Banned in Iran 2006.
11. THE HANDMAID’S TALE by Margaret Atwood (Novel) -- Banned by the superintendent of one Texas school district in 2006 because it was “sexually explicit and offensive to Christians.”
12. FAHRENHEIT 451 by Ray Bradbury (Novel) -- Challenged by the Conroe, Texas school district in 2006 because of: “discussion of being drunk, smoking cigarettes, violence, ‘dirty talk,’ references to the Bible and using God’s name in vain.” It went against the complainant’s “religious beliefs.” (Note: I saw this evening that Tom Hanks is slated to reprise the role of Guy Montague in a new film version of the classic novel.)
13. THE ADVENTURES OF HUCKLEBERRY FINN by Mark Twain (Novel) Where hasn’t this one been banned or challenged due to “racial slurs”?

I admit I hated Huck Finn the first time I read it, but it had nothing to do with the language and everything to do with a teacher who thought Huck Finn was God. My sister will attest to the fact that that is not an exaggeration, having had the same class the following year. It was the first book we read and the one every subsequent book in the class was compared to—kid you not! I liked it much better when we re-read it in a college American Lit class. It amazes me, though, that people are still challenging what is one of the best works of fiction accurately depicting a volatile time in our country’s history. Yes, it has language some may find offensive, but it is true to the period in which it was written. No teacher I’ve ever known assigned this book because they were prejudiced; it’s assigned because it is great writing and promotes discussions about racism, about what is write or wrong. Nothing wrong with teaching students to think!

Is there a book you love that has been banned or challenged? What are your thoughts on censorship and book banning?

Links to other Thursday Thirteens!

1. Tempest Knight 2. Jane E. Jones 3. Jennifer Shirk 4. Emma
5. Xakara 6. Darla 7. DD Mills 8. Jennifer McK
9. Savannah Chase 10. Rhonda Stapleton 11. Robin Rotham
12. Paige Tyler 13. Morgan St. John 14. Kaige 15. Gina Ardito
16. Sara Thacker 17. Adelle Laudan 18. Seeley DeBorn
19. Tara Nichols 20. Debbie Mumford 21. Lis

(leave your link in comments, I’ll add you here!)

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The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!


Jennifer Shirk said...

I've read a lot of those, too. I feel like such a rebel. LOL!

The only time I agreed with a "banned" book was when OJ's was going to come out.

Emma said...

The Color Purple. When it came out a lot of people had issues with it for various reasons. It's still one of my favorites and always will be. Good TT!

Xakara said...

I've read many of those and it was a great list to wind down my day with.

I think my favorites on the 100 most challenge list are:

I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, The Color Purple, The Bluest Eye, Harry Potter, The Earth Children series, James and the Giant Peach, and A Light in the Attic.

Thanks for sharing this. :)


Darla said...

I've read a few of them, and need to find another--on an email list, our fall reading challenge is to read a banned book.

DD said...

cool list - I've read a few. Still surprises me that people would ban DaVinci Code - It's fiction people!

Jennifer McKenzie said...

I love this because someone always picks up the list and it begins discussion.
It's one thing to find a book "inappropriate" for class instruction and quite another to ban it.
You'd think they'd stop banning books.

Savannah Chase said...

the books that get banned are the ones so many people want to read....

nice list

my T13 is at

Tempest Knight said...

Hm... I've read most of the books you've listed at one point in my life. *wg*

Rhonda Stapleton said...

Oh, wow...I love so many of those books. The Handmaid's Tale is fabulous!!

Robin L. Rotham said...

Wow, a list of books that I've actually read most of! Maybe it's just me, but when I think banned books, I think smut. That these books were banned just blows my mind.

Paige Tyler said...

That is so amazing to me! Great list!


My TT is at

Kaige said...

i've read at least 8 of those. Many of them in class, go figure.

My TT's up at

Morgan St. John said...

Wow, that's a really interesting list!! I've read several of those and will now have to pick up a few more!

Jane said...

What a great list! I've read most of those books, and loved them. It's unbelievable that books can even BE banned...

Lis said...

The Flowers For Algernon gets me, since I went to school 3 hours from calgary. We had a poster of the book cover in the library lol

Gina Ardito said...

Amazing how many of those are now "required reading" in NY high schools. Some I loved, some I hated, but I've read almost all of them.

Heather said...

Jennifer S~ I don't think many people wanted to see that book on the shelves, though I can imagine some people reading it just to see what kind of story he spins - the pity there is OJ getting royalties.

Emma~ An excellent choice! Great movie, too!

Xakara~ More excellent suggestions. I loved the Earth Children series, and it's interesting what some people find offensive about it.

Darla~ An excellent challenge! I hope you enjoy the book you choose and write about it on your blog!

Heather said...

DD~ My sentiment exactly! It amazes me how many people have difficulty distinguishing between fact and fiction.

Jennfer M~ Happy to get the discussion rolling. ;) I agree that some books may not be appropriate for certain grades, but I don't agree with outright banning a book. Especially when most of those who challenge a book have never read the book in question and do so only because they heardit contained "offensive" material. So sad!

Savannah~ So true! If they really want to prevent people from reading a particular book they should just not talk about it. Once people start talking about it, the more others want to read it and find out how "offensive" it is.

Heather said...

Tempest~ We're such rebels, no? *WEG*

Rhonda~ Another good one!

Robin~ It does boggle the (intelligent) mind a bit. I guess you could say that one person's smut is another person's classic. *G*

Thanks, Paige!

Heather said...

Morgan~ Thanks! There are quite a few on the most challenged list I've not yet read that I'd like to, too.

Kaige~ I've read most of these in class, too, but some were also on my own or were a re-read.

Jane~ It is amazing, isn't it? Especially, I think, in a country that takes pride in its first amendment rights of free speech.

Gina~ I think they're required not only because they are good writing, but because they spark good discussions. May that never change!

Lis~ What's funny about Flowers for Algernon is that I happened to catch part of the movie version (Charley) over the weekend. It's been so long since I read it I may have to track down a copy. ;)

Kate Willoughby said...

I read eight of the books on your list. What a great TT. Thanks!!!

Adelle said...

Fabulous list of great books.
Happy T13!

Heather said...

Thanks Kate and Adelle! :)

Debbie Mumford said...

I think I've read every one of those.

Flowers for Algernon ... sigh ... that's an all-time fave of mine.

Aktief Kulture said...

Great list. Would you believe I also read today that some wiseguy in here in South Africa also thought Black Beauty was somewhat 'pornographic' (excuses, excuses, they had also banned Noddy cos the Golliwog was in it). Then someone told 'em the book was about a horse.

Heather said...

Aktief Kulture~ The things some people do boggles the mind, doesn't it? Your example is clear evidence of someone banning a book they have not read based on fasle assumptions. Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment!