Banned Books Week

Photo by Miranda L. Sober Photography

I was a junior in high school sitting in an English class when I heard about the modern banning of books for the first time. Before class had started, our teacher had written a list of books at all angles across the blackboard that ran down the side of our classroom. As we stared at the list we started to giggle uncomfortably. Books like Where's Waldo by Martin Handford and A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein were listed as being recently challenged and we just didn't understand why. We had been taught in history class about book burning and the banning of certain classics, but that was supposed to be history. In the past.

Call me a naive American, but I just didn't think we did that anymore. From an early age we learned about the ideology of the American way: the Constitution, our freedoms, our rights. So yes, I was naive. I had no idea, for the longest time, that members in our country actually broke those freedoms and turned down those rights - and that it was acceptable. As an adult, I am much more aware of the idea of freedom of speech; jaded by the reality of it. 

So I've given myself a new goal in my writing: one day I will write a book that will be challenged and maybe even banned. Not because I was deliberately lewd or graphically gory, but because my message was so strong it rankled someone's feathers and might even be considered too revolutionary for the times. 

Even now, books are being challenged the world over. Small communities in the United States are preventing Harry Potter from entering their schools or The Hunger Games. And then there are the unedited, uncensored versions of the classics - beware, literature depicting the times it was written in will decay your mind.

The two lists below share with us the classics and the modern books who have made someone's naughty list. How many have you read?

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There are a few on this list that surprise me and others that I expected to see. I wonder if 50 Shades of Grey will make the list come the new decade compilation. I've read 4/46 of the Classics and 8/100 of those listed from the last decade. I have some reading to do!

The idea of banning books based on a community's morality, for language, violence, or sexual conduct, has me wondering if we will be banning fewer books in the future as our society becomes desensitized to ideas and literature which would shock our grandparents or our great-grandparents. Is the shortening of this list because we have grown to acknowledge and understand the importance of ending censorship or is it because we are developing a society who just doesn't care anymore. A thought for another day perhaps.


How many banned books have you read?

Did you find any surprises on either of these lists?  

Tell me your thoughts!