Monday, September 27, 2010

banned books week!

it's 'banned books week' in the united states! hurray!
Link put out a list of the 'the most challenged books of 2009' in april, and it seems like a suitable time look it over again.

some of these books i've read, some of them i haven't. i have to say, though, that i was surprised by some of the books that were challenged..

#1 this year on the list was a young adult series called "ttyl" by lauren myracle. apparently it's about three high school friends, growing up, and chatting online. it sounds incredibly stupid, but it's weird to me that this was the number ONE book that people requestion libraries remove from their shelves.

this book was challenged for the following reasons: "nudity, sexually explicit material, offensive language, being unsuited to the target age group, and drugs."

#2 was "and tango makes three" by justin richardson and peter parnell. an actually adorable kids book about two male penguins who are IN LOVE and adopt a baby. it's based on a semi-true story because there are male penguins in real life that partner up.

this book was challenged because the penguins are homos. they are homo penguins who want to raise a little baby penguin. this means that this book is EVIL and should be burned into oblivion.

#3 is "the perks of being a wallflower" by stephen chbosky. this is another young adult book, about a boy going into high school, life changes, family, death, and depression. you know, all the stuff that young adult books are generally about. or, books in general.

apparently this book is "anti-family" and offensive. i haven't read it so i wouldn't know, but is anti-family really a bad thing?? it seems to me that a book that is honest about family life is probably better for kids to read than some garbage about perfect family life.

#4 is no surprise to anyone who has ever seen a list of banned books before. it's "to kill a mockingbird"! this classic, by harper lee, has been banned since it was published. apparently it's offensive, racist, and not suitable to its marketed age.

#5 is the "twilight" series by stephanie meyers. i mean, i can see this book being challenged because it potentially lowers the IQ of anyone who reads it, but content wise it just sounds like a vampire story for sexually repressed teenagers. it's not a secret that meyers is a mormon and has some interesting views on sexuality and although i've never read the twilight series, i think it's probably safe to say that it's not ban worthy.

this book was challenged because it is sexually explicit and has an offensive religious view point. an offensive religious viewpoint? really? why don't you ban the bible then, because basically that has the most offensive religious viewpoint at all.

#6 is another book that has been on the lists forever, "catcher in the rye" by J.D salinger. it's "offensive" and "sexually explicit" apparently, and no child in america should be able to read it! i'd be willing to bet that half the parents who advocated taking this book off the shelves read it themselves when they were younger and enjoyed it. then they got older and crazier and decided their own child shouldn't be allowed to make up their own minds about literature, or life, or anything.

#7 was the most shocking to me. "my sister's keeper" by jodi picoult. this is the story of a young girl who was born to be an organ donor for her older sister with cancer. this is one of the newer books on the list that i've actually read, and i don't know why anyone would want to ban it.

it was challenged for a million reasons: "sexist", "violent", "drugs", "suicide", "portrays homosexuality", and on and on. actually, i don't recall any homosexuality in the book?

i mean this book is not the best written thing ever, but it's touching and complicated. i hated the ending, but it is actually quite a tame book. yeah, picoult made the mother kind of a bitch and a monster in the book, but to call this book sexist over every other piece of literature is just very bizarre.

#8 is a book i've never even heard of before, "the earth, my butt, and other round things" by carolyn mackler. this is a book about a chubby teen, her weight obsessed parents, her first romance, and her brother the date rapist. pretty standard stuff for teen books.

#9 is just ridiculous. "the colour purple" by alice walker. i'm not even going to comment on this one.

finally, #10 on the most challenged books of 2009: "the chocolate war" by robert cormier. i've never read this book but it's apparently about a kid who refuses to sell chocolate during the school fundraiser--the book actually deals more with bullying, authority, cultural norms, and sexuality. for all of these reasons, this book is number three on the list of all time challenged books, a list made by the american library association.

so there you have it, 10 of the books that certain americans deemed unacceptable for libraries to carry.

"the books that the world calls immoral are the books that show the world its own shame"(oscar wilde). it's not surprising that the list of books most challenged this year have to do with the failings of the traditional family, gay relationships and parenting, racism, teenage sexuality, and conforming to social normals--these are the issues that hit people close to home because they're the issues they most grapple with on a day to day basis.

people should just let literature do its job and not try to censor what people, especially children and young adults, have access to. giving everyone a chance to make up their own mind about literature is an important part of actual democracy and it's kind of silly that in 2009 people wasted their time trying to get a book called "ttyl" off library shelves.

you can also see the list from 2008, here.

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