Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Banned Books Week: September 24-October 1

I'm not really a person for rules and regulations, or being told what to do. I don't like that one of my three jobs requires that I to wear my hair down to hide my eyebrow rings and then stud my lip ring. I also don't appreciate being told that I can't wear an actual RING for my lip at another place of employment. I try to veer away from jobs that mandate "No visible tattoos" (mine is easily covered by my watch, but it still bothers me) or that I have to "Look clean" (What does that even mean, anyway? What ever happened to no shower Fridays?). It makes me feel like they're forcing me be someone I'm not..It makes me unGodly uneasy. 

I like being able to make decisions for myself, be able to look the way I want to, do the things I want to. I don't think people should fit into certain molds that society creates, I don't like capital punishment or speed limits....I don't like things being off limits. It just kind of bugs me. One of the big ones that gets to me is banned books.

As Banned Books Week continues in full swing, I was kind of starting to wonder: 

Do you ever find the list, and read books off of it just to feel rebellious?

I did (maybe still do :) ). 

As a teen, I felt some form of vindication when I'd read the list and come find that a book that I'd loved was there, on the damn list. After that vindication, I'd feel anger. Overwhelming anger; who are these people trying to keep these amazing books out of kid's hands? More importantly, the question I kept falling back to was WHY? Why on earth are these pages so offensive to people that they wouldn't want them supplied in libraries, in schools? 

To this day, I still don't really understand why people ban books, or burn them. (Okay, some exceptions....like...you know, hate literature. I'd burn that quick.) But books, wonderful, character evolving books. Sure, at the start of the story, they can be racist, and there may be awful words....but what if at the end, the character learns that people really are equal, that hate doesn't solve anything? Why would we keep this from kids? Why would we keep these lessons from PEOPLE? Even if the character doesn't arc well enough to learn their lesson, as a parent, teacher, person...why not engage with the person reading the book;

Did you like it?
Do you agree with the way this character thinks?

Dig deep, give advice. Books give a great platform for launching conversations. Every time I see someone with a book, I ask what they're reading, if they like it, what it's about, if they're on GoodReads..etc. (It might just be because I'm a huge nerd....) 

But what if these stories help save someone? Why would we keep this hidden away?

Anyway, I pulled up the lists for the 90s HERE and the 00s HERE. Here are some of the books that either I've read or currently own and will read some day:

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, by Maya Angelou
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain
Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck
The Giver, by Lois Lowry
My Brother Sam is Dead, by James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier
Goosebumps (series), by R.L. Stine
Go Ask Alice, by Anonymous (My teacher, Mrs. Watchorn totally made me write up a permission slip for my mom to sign so I could read this book so she could have a clean conscious. It is an amazing book...)
Julie of the Wolves, by Jean Craighead George
Fallen Angels, by Walter Dean Myers
The Outsiders, by S.E. Hinton
To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
Slaughterhouse-Five, by Kurt Vonnegut (Side note, may have almost cried the day I found out he died. I loved this man)
The Face on the Milk Carton, by Caroline Cooney
Where’s Waldo?, by Martin Hanford
The Drowning of Stephen Jones, by Bette Greene

00s (Without the titles mentioned above)
His Dark Materials (series), by Philip Pullman 
Snow Falling on Cedars, by David Guterson 
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, by Ken Kesey
The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini 
Summer of My German Soldier, by Bette Green 
Speak, by Laurie Halse Anderson
The Lovely Bones, by Alice Sebold 
Cut, by Patricia McCormick 
Grendel, by John Gardner

Moral of the story is, I love books...Like I love them. When I get published, I'd like to some day make it on the banned books list, because I will then I feel like it'd cause me to write more, and more. I'd be on a stupid list with a lot of other amazing authors and best yet, PEOPLE. 

So, to those of you who read what's banned:

Keep reading strong.


  1. "Do you ever find the list, and read books off of it just to feel rebellious?"

    ABSOLUTELY! As much as I loathe the idea of banning books, I do look forward to each year's list. I take perverse pleasure in knowing that one person's petty need to try and control what others read means I discover books that might have otherwise escaped my notice.

    I'd love to write a letter to each person who requested/demanded a book be banned and thank them, honestly and sincerely, for introducing me to a wonderful new read. I suspect it would either blow their mind, or send them into a blind rage . . . either way, I've made my point. :)

  2. Ooooo. I feel rebellious, I read the '00 list and discovered that I have read 2 of them! Speak and Lovely Bones (that one I got from B&N from the $5.99 bin). I can highly recommend both...but if I had to pick just one I say go with Speak.
    Wow! Apparently my 8th grade English teacher was a bit rebellious too 'cuz we read Julie and the Wolves on class. In fact, it's the first book I ever dissected....I was never the same (for the better) again.


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