It’s Banned Books Week!

Welcome to Banned Books Week!

What is Banned Books Week?

Banned Books Week is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read.  In 2015, it takes place September 27 – October 3.

Are we still banning books?

Yes.  The American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom receives reports from libraries, schools and the media on attempts to ban books.

What is book banning?

A “challenged” book is an attempt to remove or restrict it based on the objections of a person or group.  A book is “banned” when it is successfully restricted or removed from a community, library or school.

What are the latest censorship efforts?

These 25 books were among those challenged, restricted, removed or banned in the United States and Canada from May 2014 to March 2015:

1)  The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie
2)  An Abundance of Katherines, by John Green
3)  The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison
4)  Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley
5)  Chinese Handcuffs, by Chris Crutcher
6)  The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, by Mark Haddon
7)  The Fault in Our Stars, by John Green
8)  The Glass Castle: A Memoir, by Jeannette Walls
9)  Hop on Pop: The Simplest Seuss for Youngest Use, by Theodor Seuss Geisel
10)  The House of Night (series), by P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast
11)  Identical, by Ellen Hopkins
12)  If I Ran the Zoo, by Theodor Seuss Geisel
13)  The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini
14)  Little Brother, by Cory Doctorow
15)  Looking for Alaska, by John Green
16)  Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck
17)  The Miseducation of Cameron Post, by Emily M. Danforth
18)  Nineteen Minutes, by Jodi Picoult
19)  Paper Towns, by John Green
20)  Persepolis, by Marjane Satrapi
21)  Siddhartha, by Herman Hesse
22)  Sixth Grade Can Really Kill You, by Barthe DeClements
23)  Song of Solomon, by Toni Morrison
24)  Twilight (series), by Stephanie Meyer
25)  The Working Poor: Invisible in America, by David K. Shipler

The top 10 most frequently challenged books of 2014:

1)  The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie
2)  Persepolis, by Marjane Satrapi
3)  And Tango Makes Three, by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell
4)  The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison
5)  It’s Perfectly Normal, by Robie Harris
6)  Saga, by Brian Vaughan and Fiona Staples
7)  The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini
8)  The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky
9)  A Stolen Life, by Jaycee Dugard
10)  Drama, by Raina Telgemeier

Where can I get more information?

Contact your local library.

Contact the ALA at 1-800-545-2433 or www.ala.org.

Contact the ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom at 312-280-4226 or www.ala.org/offices/oif.

Happy reading!

 

 

 

50 thoughts on “It’s Banned Books Week!

    1. I agree, Neil. It’s a reaction due to fear. I like to believe that those seeking to ban books have the best intentions…the waters are murky though. Exactly, everyone has the choice to read or not read a book. It’s a different realm entirely to demand that nobody else read or access it.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Her book The Bluest Eye was published in 1970 and continues to come under fire. Another of her books, Beloved, has been banned. Beloved was adapted to film starring Oprah Winfrey and Danny Glover. More of her books have been banned; this is not a comprehensive list.

      In addition to having books banned, Toni Morrison has won the Nobel Prize in Literature (1993) and the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction (1988), among many other awards.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I tried reading this list twice before I made it all the way through. I kept seeing a title and thinking “why the fuck would they ban this?” and then dumbing myself down to an idiot’s level long enough to realize why that book was banned, and then I’d get all indignant and angry and stop looking at the list for a while.

    People make me tired. It’s like when they banned a bunch of songs after 9/11, like Dave Matthews band’s Crash Into Me. I mean, I get it. I do. But do the numbnuts banning things even know what they’re banning? That song is about “a boy’s dream” about sex. “Hike up your skirt a little more and show the world to me” does not have anything to do with airplanes and towers and… gah. People suck.

    Thanks for your post. It is informative. And maddening.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Hi Aaron,
      Yes the official reasons can be mystifying and frustrating. Reasons for challenges include: offensive language; sexually explicit; sex education; violence; religious viewpoint; political viewpoint; occult/satanism; anti-family; nudity; homosexuality; racism; sexism; drugs/alcohol/smoking; gambling; suicide; gangs; anti-ethnic; and, cultural sensitivity. There is also “other objections” and “other offensive item”.

      I’ve found claims that people putting forth challenges have not always read the books in question or not read them in their entirety.

      A former editor of the Los Angeles Times, Phil Kerry, said, “Censorship is the strongest drive in human nature.”

      You raise important parallels to the banning of songs. Throughout history we can find examples of entire genres of music banned outright.

      Thanks for your thoughtful comment, Aaron.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I just finished reading a neat little graphic novel about Edward Snowden’s story, purely for curiosity’s sake, and they likened out current society to Oceania in Orwell’s 1984.

        This kind of censorship and banning of books (what’s next, burning them?) makes me think Bradbury wasn’t too far off with Fahrenheit 451 either.

        Makes me want to stay inside, pull the covers up high and read some banned books.

        Liked by 1 person

          1. I don’t know, really, if it’d be worth it. My guess is that most of them would leaving you knowing why they were banned (based on the listed criteria) but then just shaking your head at the people doing the bannings.

            I re-read the list of reasons for bannings and one book immediately popped to mind. It probably contains most (if not all) of the things listed, and yet it is beloved and will probaby never be banned. It is also one of the most widely misinterpreted and abused texts in history, but so long as it suits them, people won’t ever admit to that.

            But I won’t go further into it because we don’t need the inevitable backlash that that would bring about, and the whole point (about a book I respect, albeit differently than many others do) would well and truly be missed.

            Liked by 1 person

    1. Heinrich Heine made this observation about the burning of the Quran during the Spanish Inquisition. It turned out to be a prediction when his own books were burned about a century after he wrote them, and then people soon followed.

      Examples are found throughout history, including the Roman Emperor Diocletian’s burning of Christian books and attacking Christians.

      When I saw the challenge reason “occult” I immediately thought of the Salem witch trials and burnings, which of course is just one example.

      Thanks for your thought-provoking comment, Juan.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. The German Writer Heine foresaw what happened in 1936. Those who want to keep us enslaved make getting or having an education seem “snooty and high fluting”… The sheeple will burn books if their masters tell them to do it…

        Liked by 1 person

  2. John Green didn’t strike me as terribly controversial – I read Fault in Our Stars, I’m curious as to what would be ‘ban-worthy’ in there.
    Ahh well, hopefully with some of these, banning would have the opposite intended effect and people would be more likely to read them as a result!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Geoff, Fault in Our Stars was ban-worthy due to “morbid plot, crude language/profanity and sexual content”. Many of his books have been challenged, suspended and banned including An Abundance of Katherines, Looking for Alaska and Paper Towns.
      Yes, it has been said that there is no bad publicity. His books receive a lot of attention from censors as well as movie-makers. Maybe this is better than the sound of tumbleweeds?

      Liked by 1 person

  3. This is very disturbing. There are some amazing books on the list, and great authors. Next thing Farenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury will be banned, or worse become a reality.
    Well, what do I expect of a world were people are still trying to put pants on “David”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Resa, Absolutely! You raise an excellent point about Ray Bradbury and Farenheit 451. Much of Bradbury’s work has come under fire at one point or another. Farenheit 451 was not only banned but the publisher (Ballantine) edited and revised the book in response to the critics’ demands; language was changed and plot points altered. It was originally published in 1953 and the revised/censored version was published until the 1970s.
      Bradbury commented in subsequent corrected editions: “There is more than one way to burn a book. And the world is full of people running about with lit matches.”

      Michelangelo’s David! Even replicas, portraits and images can’t escape the censors.

      Like

      1. Very interesting! I had no idea Farenheit 451 had been altered.
        I take it the unaltered version is what’s out there now?
        Perhaps it’s time we all memorize a book. I’ll do Farenheit 451

        Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ll look for that post! The censorship debate is always interesting. I can remember one book that I stopped reading because it was so appalling…but I wouldn’t have tried to ban it. Thank you, Robin!

      Like

  4. I find it shocking that Siddhartha and Brave New World is on that list. I read both of these when I was 19.

    The interesting thing is that anyone with a internet connection can access most these books online.

    This means that there is a class dimension to censuring text.

    It would affect those people who use the public library to get books, but even a dial up account on an old Windows 98 machine can download these books.

    After I wrote that last sentence I decided to fact check to see if these books are available as text
    and the ones I searched for are.

    http://readwritework.weebly.com/uploads/1/1/4/2/11420311/the_absolutely_true_diary_of_a__-_sherman_alexie.pdf

    http://thefaultinourstarspdf.com/an-abundance-of-katherines/

    http://soodela.wikispaces.com/file/view/Bluest+Eye,+The+-+Toni+Morrison.pdf

    Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse

    http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/2500

    Brave New World

    https://archive.org/stream/ost-english-brave_new_world_aldous_huxley/Brave_New_World_Aldous_Huxley_djvu.txt

    The complete Persepolis

    http://www.worldcat.org/title/complete-persepolis/oclc/743253946

    It makes sad sense that “The Working Poor” is on this list.

    But even this is available with a click.

    http://www.worldcat.org/title/working-poor-invisible-in-america/oclc/775333427

    I wonder whose thoughts are being controlled and why?

    I wonder how many people there are in the U.S. with limited or no access to the internet.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Rob, you raise important points. I’m thrilled that so many books are available online. Thank you for the links. I always love coming across archives that have been made publicly available.

      According to a 2014 Huffington Post article, “In some American cities, up to 40 percent of households don’t have an internet connection, according to a new analysis based on census data.” (See article: Why Many Americans Still Don’t Have Internet Access, In 4 Charts.) Some of these people may have access to public library computers and internet, but that access is limited.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you Danica. I suspected as much…My guess is that many of those people live in regions that are isolated and that a good portion of them are also poor. Those are the people whose thoughts need to be controlled because that’s our nation’s pool of cheap labor. We don’t want our cheap labor to think too much or they might want things like healthcare, unions and a stake in the wealth and infrastructure of our nation.

        Liked by 1 person

What do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s