From September 23-30 is Banned Book Week. I’m going to read either a Banned or Challenged book this week, and I invite you to join in. This type of censorship has annoyed and aggravated me since I was twelve, and anything to fight this movement is a step towards enlightenment.
Here are some of my favourite selections from this genre. Let’s start with the 2005 American Library Association’s List of Banned Books. From the top ten, the only one I have read is J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye. In my own defense many of the others are children’s books from after my time. From those off the list this year but perennially listed I own and have read Of Mice and Men and Huckleberry Finn. The latter is my favourite anti-slavery, anti-racism, and anti-prejudice book of all time; Twain is brilliant, insightful, feeling, and supremely sarcastic.
The American Booksellers for free Expression (ABFFE) have put out a list. From this list I recommend:
- I know Why the Caged Bird Sang by Maya Angelou
- One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey
- To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (they banned THIS?!)
- The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan
- The Color Purple
- Jean Aul’s Earth Series: I found it okay but not great, but I don’t think it should have been banned.
- The Witches by Roald Dahl
- A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle; another great favourite of mine. I found it to be one of the most inclusive, non-sectarian, and non-threatening expression of faith and hope I have ever read. So some groups banned it for not expressing their exclusive and rigid beliefs. You can’t win, but L’Engle’s book is an affirmation of why we keep trying.
- The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood (Growl!)
- Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes (Why?)
- Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
- Slaughterhouse-Five by Vonnegut
- Lord of the Flies
- Native Son by Richard Wright
- The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
- Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett
Sometimes I think the banned list gives a good idea of books you should choose. Given the important classics above, I can almost justify this statement.
If you choose to partake in a good banned book this week, enjoy!
I found my book. It is Beloved by Toni Morrison. She is a Nobel Prize winner for Literature, and the book won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction. Of course it would be banned!