I’m back from a long summer hiatus and ready to blog again. I thought I’d jump right in by commemorating a fabulous yet controversial event. Sept. 22 – 28, 2013 is Banned Books Week. This event puts the spotlight on banned and challenged books.
After checking out a few lists of banned and challenged books, I was amazed to see how many books I’ve enjoyed were banned. I was inspired to create the following gif for my Tumblr, Literary Gifs.
Some of the reasons these books were banned defies logic. For example, I cannot imagine anyone reading “Speak” would think the novel was soft porn or that the author was promoting promiscuity. It’s the story of a rape victim who loses the ability to speak. I can only think that whoever accused “Speak” of these things either didn’t read the book or is all about victim blaming.
Other books are more problematic. “Mein Kampf” by Adolf Hitler is a commonly banned and challenged book. Obviously, his worldview is repugnant and his crimes against humanity are the very worst. I haven’t read the book nor do I want to. However, I cannot in good conscious tell anyone else not to read it. It is an historical document that can give the reader insight into the mind of a madman who came to power and was responsible for the murder of millions of people. We prevent the next Hitler by knowing all we can about the original one.
The lists of banned and challenged books have perennial favorites that have remained on the lists into the 21st century. These include “Of Mice and Men” by John Steinbeck, “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” by Maya Angelou, and “Catcher in the Rye” by J.D. Salinger. What do these books have in common? To my mind, they speak truth to power and sometimes power cannot stand the truth.
Looking for some banned books to read? Check out these lists:
- 100 Most Frequently Challenged Books by Decade
- Banned & Challenged Classics
- Banned Books That Shaped America
A number of classic books have been banned. The following books are available free online. You may be surprised by what you see below.