Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Thursday Thirteen 261: Banned Books

Here in the U.S. we are celebrating the 30th annual Banned Books Week. It's difficult to believe that in this day and age and with the first amendment rights of free speech and freedom of the press that any book would be challenged or outright banned, but it happens all too frequently. More than 11,000 books have been challenged since 1982—326 in 2011 alone. Below are thirteen banned/challenged books on my own shelves, and some of the reasons they were challenged.

1. ANNA KARENINA by Leo Tolstoy — Promotes communism, irreligious, adultery, prejudice against minorities.

2. THE HOBBIT by JRR Tolkien — Occult/Satanism, irreligious (which is ironic, considering Tolkien considered this and the LOTR novels to have religious themes), promotes smoking

1984 by George Orwell — Pro-communism, anti-family, explicit sexual matter, irreligious

4. TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD by Harper Lee (10th most challenged book in 2011) — Offensive language, racism, unsuited to age

5. ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO'S NEST by Ken Kesey — Offensive language, sexual content, violence, glorifies crime

6. WOMEN IN LOVE by DH Lawrence — Explicit sexual content 

7. FAHRENHEIT 451 by Ray Bradbury — Irreligious, violence, offensive language

8. SLAUGHTERHOUSE-FIVE by Kurt Vonnegut — Offensive language, violence, ethnic slurs, explicit sexual content

9. THE GRAPES OF WRATH by John Steinbeck — Offensive language, violence, explicit sexual content 

10. HARRY POTTER series by JK Rowling — Occult/Satanism, violence, anti-family (which I don't get, seeing as the Weasleys are one of my favorite literary families), religious viewpoint

11. THE ADVENTURES OF HUCKLEBERRY FINN by Mark Twain — Offensive language, racism

12. THE HUNGER GAMES series by Suzanne Collins (third most challenged in 2011) — Occult/Satanic, anti-ethnic, anti-family, violence, insensitivity, offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group

13. TWILIGHT series by Stephenie Meyer — Occult/Satanic, religious viewpoint, violence, unsuited to age group

What banned books are on your shelves?


Kimberly Menozzi said...

I read Slaughterhouse Five over the summer, and as I did, I kept having to remind myself that this book is frequently challenged or banned all over the US.

It is, quite simply, one of the best books I've ever read. But then again, my lens is not so narrow that I am able to view these books the way those who would ban them do.

Thank goodness my mother and father never tried to restrain my ability to read what I wanted, to learn or to think for myself.

Journeywoman said...

When I worked at (Insert Children's Publishing house) we used to celebrate getting our books on the banned book list because it meant sales. We also had a list of "weirdest reasons for exclusion" posted. The one I remember was Anne Frank was banned for "being a real downer."

My boss' response was "Gee, sorry we couldn't cheer up the Holocaust for you."

Great list.

Mia Celeste said...

I've read these all, but Women in Love. I think I should add that one to my to-read list. Thanks.

Alice Audrey said...

I've read nine of them, and watched the movies for two more.

Heather said...

Kimberly: I read SF last year and though it isn't one of my favorite classics, it was okay. My parents never restricted what my sisters and I could read, and I don't think any of our friends' parents did, either. We were encouraged to frequent the library, especially during summer.

Heather said...

Journeywoman: I've heard a great many authors say they knew they had "arrived" when one of their books was challenged. I don't think challengers get how much doing so increases a book's sales, how many people will want to see what all the "hype" is about. Some of the reasons for which someone challenges a book are just plain crazy.

Heather said...

Mia Celeste: I confess, I don't think I actually finished WIL. It was for a college lit course, and I remember doing well on the exam, but do not remember much of the book. Might have to reread it one of these days... LOL

Heather said...

Alice: I have actually seen 8 of the movies myself (well, MORE if you count LOTR and Potter movies separately, lol). I wanted to see #12 when it was out, but will now have to look for the DVD, and I hope to see the new version of #1 when it releases here in the states.

Jennifer Leeland said...

All of them but Twilight.
"Promotes smoking" *snirk* Yep. That's old Tolkien. Trying to get kids to smoke.

Alice Audrey said...

Well, heck, if we're counting all the movie versions and not just the ones where I hadn't read the book - Hmm... how many times should I count The Hobbit and does each Harry Potter count separately?

Heather said...

Jennifer: I know, right? Some countries have even restricted the viewing of the LOTR series because of the smoking.

Alice: Haha...funny. I actually hope to reread The Hobbit in November, before the new movie version comes out in December.

carol said...

I've got a few of these on my shelves too.

Maddy Barone said...

I only own 6 of these, although I've read most.
If I was a parent concerned about my child reading a book I didnt' like, I would see it as a great opportunity to discuss those issues.

Heather said...

Carol: Glad to hear it, thanks for visiting!

Maddy: I agree, many books offer teachable moments, a way for families to connect, a chance for parents/teachers to impart valuable lessons and values.

Paige Tyler said...

All of that is so crazy to me!


My TT is at

colleen said...

Really on some of those. I guess I like banned books. I've read quite of few of the ones you listed.

Heather said...

Paige: Isn't it just?

Colleen: Yes, some of the reasons a book is challenged are ludicrous. Worst of all is the fact that most challenges come from people who haven't even read the book they want to ban.

kaye said...

I've read 7 books you've titled--I'm only counting the series as one book. I can't believe The Hobbit is in that group. So sad. BTW I've never really got the whole "banned book" thing. It doesn't really matter to me what people say or think about a book. I've always pretty much felt free to read anything I choose too. And I've never felt I have any authority to criticize other peoples choices in reading material. Like I said--I just don't get it.

The Gal Herself said...

You can find To Kill a Mockingbird and One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest on my shelf right now. Cuff me and take me away!

It's easy to joke about this because it's so silly. But I'm sad that some people are so clueless about art and life. In this country, I believe The Grapes of Wrath should be required reading.

Heather said...

Kaye: It is sad that some people feel they can dictate what others should and should not read. My opinion is the same as yours. If you don't want to read it, fine, but don't tell me I can't read it.

Heather said...

Oh, and Kaye? I had a feeling you would be shocked to find The Hobbit on the list. *G*

Heather said...

Gal: It is easy to mock such a serious subject when the reasons why some books are challenged are so silly. Though we did not read this one in HS, we did read Of Mice and Men (which I do not own), and I read Grapes twice in college (two different classes/semesters).

CountryDew said...

If we keep on like we are, most of the books on my shelves will be considered "banned" books.

Heather said...

Anita: Sad, isn't it?