Sep 28, 2009

banned books

As I'm sure you know, it's Banned Books Week. I thought to participate in my own little way, I'd write this week about some books I've read that have been banned or challenged. In the TBR shelf by my bed I have a few titles from the lists of banned books: Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston, To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolfe, Dubliners by James Joyce and Schindler's List. Hm. I've tried to read two of these before, and couldn't make it through. I'm going to give them another honest effort this week. Out of the several lists of banned books I've seen online, I counted up fifty-six titles that I've read. Forty-two of those are books that have a permanent place on my own shelves. That must say something for the quality of these books, objectionable material or no!

Some banned titles previously featured on this blog:
The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
Bless Me Ultima by Rudolfo Anaya
Black Like Me by John Griffin
The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
Call of the Wild by Jack London

I have to admit I haven't liked all of these books. In fact, they often make me squirm (I'm a bit of a prude, don't care to read lots of sex or violence). But at the same time, what better place to meet frightening or distasteful subjects than in a book? What better place to meet issues that often need to be faced, for the very reasons they make us want to avert our eyes? Reading these books broadens my mind and gives me lots to think on. Then, too, there are some whose spot on the list puzzles me. I have to think people who want to ban books are simply offended by or frightened of what's in them. Frightened by the influence books could have on our minds. Do you think books have such potent power?

After all, I've read Go Ask Alice and it didn't make me want to experiment with drugs (quite the opposite!) I've read all the Harry Potter books - and let my five year old kid watch the movies- and neither of us want to be a witch (we know it's just a story). My view is that if you object to what's in a book, just don't read it. I've set aside many a book (as my Abandoned list attests to) that made me too uncomfy (or, more frequently, was just boring me). But that doesn't mean I'd stop others from reading those books. Everyone should be free to read what they like.

3 comments:

An Anonymous Child said...

"My view is that if you object to what's in a book, just don't read it."

Well, in theory. But the majority of complaints come from parents wanting to "protect" their children. Look at the charts and graphs regarding banned books statistics - if it was as simple as someone saying, "I object to this personally" we'd have a much easier problem on our hands. Instead, arise the issues of censoring, the existence of books, and someone's ability to access a book.

I most certainly agree. Everyone over a certain age should be free to read whatever they like. The problem is defining that age and defining what influence parents have over their child's curriculum. In an ideal world, I support your claim emphatically. In our current world, I strive to make it happen.

Nymeth said...

"But at the same time, what better place to meet frightening or distasteful subjects than in a book? What better place to meet issues that often need to be faced, for the very reasons they make us want to avert our eyes?"

Well said, Jeane!

Jeane said...

Anonymous Child- I have never run into the issue of parents banning books and thus limiting what others' children can read. Now that my own daughter is approaching school age, it might become more of a reality for me, but as I haven't had any personal experience in that regard I felt I couldn't say much about it.

Nymeth- Thank you.