Read a banned book

It’s banned books week! Let’s get reading…. Here’s a list of the most challenged books for 2007.

1. “And Tango Makes Three,” by Justin Richardson/Peter Parnell
Reasons: Anti-Ethnic, Sexism, Homosexuality, Anti-Family, Religious Viewpoint, Unsuited to Age Group

2. The Chocolate War,” by Robert Cormier
Reasons: Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Violence

3. “Olive’s Ocean,” by Kevin Henkes
Reasons: Sexually Explicit and Offensive Language

4. “The Golden Compass,” by Philip Pullman
Reasons:  Religious Viewpoint

5. “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,” by Mark Twain
Reasons:  Racism

6. “The Color Purple,” by Alice Walker
Reasons: Homosexuality, Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language

7. “TTYL,” by Lauren Myracle
Reasons: Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group

8. “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,” by Maya Angelou
Reasons:  Sexually Explicit

9. “It’s Perfectly Normal,” by Robie Harris
Reasons:  Sex Education, Sexually Explicit

10. “The Perks of Being A Wallflower,” by Stephen Chbosky
Reasons:  Homosexuality, Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group

Which one are you going to read this week?


Donna Druchunas is a freelance technical writer and editor and a knitwear designer. When she's not working, she blogs, studies Lithuanian, reads science and sci-fi books, mouths off on atheist forums, and checks her email every three minutes. (She does that when she's working, too.) Although she loves to chat, she can't keep an IM program open or she'd never get anything else done.

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  1. Fun topic dd.

    Lots of books there — too many books; too little time.

    I’ve read His Dark Materials — lovely stuff that, and Huck Finn, Color Purple, Caged Bird, and thought they were all quite good. Which on your list would you most strongly recommend?

    Wasn’t poor young Harry Potter banned in the US when he first arrived? And is old Holden Caufield still being banned from time to time down yonder way?

  2. I have Huck Finn at home, but I’m already in the middle of 2 books. One being “Wicked” and the other “The Reader” by Bernhard Schlink, both of which would probably end up on one banned book list or another, at least! So I’m there in spirit!

  3. I still think that Huck Finn is the second greatest book in the English lanuage right after Moby Dick. I guess I’ll read the Golden Compass since I have it at home and have been casting around for something to read.

  4. I’ve only got four out of ten. I can’t read The Color Purple again. The sight of my 6’4″ manly self crying like a little girl is just too disturbing.

    I’ve read His Dark Materials twice now.

    It’s got to be Maya Angelou as Huck Finn is peculiarly American and didn’t engage me really.

  5. of the books on that list I have read Huck Finn and saw the movie for The Golden Compass (though from everyone I have spoken to who have read the books, the books are a thousand times better).

  6. I have read most of these already… what I think is VERY interesting is that 80% of them were banned due to being “sexually explicit”

    We are so very very hung up on sex its not funny.

  7. Might try for “The Giver,” “Lord of the Flies,” and/or “Slaughterhouse Five.” Read the former years ago and have been meaning to revisit it, but never the latter two.

  8. Argh!!!! For the love of all that is good and buttery Huck Finn is not racist! It was written in the mid-nineteenth century with dialogue in vernacular appropriate to the characters, meaning they say things use words we consider racist. It’s still the story of a young boy who gives up everything to help his friend escape from slavery for fuck’s sake! This is why a)we need better History education in this country, including content on how people in other times actually thought and spoke and b)people should be required to pass a basic test proving they read and understand a book before they are allowed to challenge it.
    See also:

  9. @Zambiglione:

    It’s got the N-word in it, so to some that makes it racist. No matter how anti-racist the book really is.

    Pisses me off, too, since I think Twain is the greatest writer the English language has ever seen, except for Will Shakey.

  10. @marilove: Remember what the MPAA says: “Horrific, deplorable violence is fine, as long as no one says any naughty words…”

    I’m not a big South Park fan, but they hit the nail on the head with that one.

  11. @phlebas: And Twain dispised Jane Austen as much as I do! I can’t help but love him for that. Though I personally have a toss-up between he and John Steinbeck, a favorite of mine.

    @writerdd: OMG NIPPLES AAAAAHHH! *my eyes!*

  12. Have mercy, people! Can we get a moratorium on challenging books, please? I already have a book list on my computer that currently has over 300 entries compiled from various banned/challenged/hated/(and er…pretentious?) book lists. I simply do not have enough time to read all of these and keep up with all the new books! Not to mention the fact that there are other books that interest me that I would like to read too.

  13. @phlebas:

    Cooper’s art has some defects. In one place in ‘Deerslayer’, and in the restricted space of two thirds of a page, Cooper has scored 114 offenses against literary art out of a possible 115. It breaks the record.
    There are nineteen rules governing literary art in the domain of romantic fiction–some say twenty-two. In ‘Deerslayer’ Cooper violated eighteen of them.

    –Mark Twain

  14. Of course Huck Finn is not racist. It’s obviously quite the opposite. However, I recently had the pleasure of listening to it as an audiobook and I must say, I found it shocking, and it took a while to get used to, hearing “nigger” in just about every paragraph. I don’t remember having the same reaction when I read it [number omitted] years ago. I can understand some of the concern about having kids reading it, but ultimately I think the positives of the book far outweigh these concerns.

    I am a Hedge

  15. @Im a Hedge: Any and all concern should go out the window if teachers/parents would just take the time to explain what Zambiglione touched on above!

    “I haven’t any right to criticise books, and I don’t do it except when I hate them. I often want to criticise Jane Austen, but her books madden me so that I can’t conceal my frenzy from the reader; and therefore I have to stop every time I begin. Everytime I read ‘Pride and Prejudice’ I want to dig her up and beat her over the skull with her own shin-bone.” — Mark Twain.

    Cracks me up EVERY TIME.

  16. Spycatcher. by Peter Wright. Banned in the UK by Thatcher because it said nasty things about the UK government. My copy was smuggled into the UK by my cousin from America in the dust cover from another book.

    There are also apparently a lot of books banned in the UK that say unflattering things about the monarchy, such as suggesting they had her killed (which they probably didn’t but still it’d be nice to read someone’s book about it and decide for myself)

  17. Speaking of actually banned books (actually this is a complete tangent), when I was living in China the current Lonely Planet China was banned because they had the audacity to actually imply that Taiwan was a sovereign nation and not part of China by not including it on the map of China is the first section. There was a English language book store that carried it, hidden behind the counter so you had to know a pass phrase and they would sell it to you for something like twice the retail price. I wanted to buy it just so I could do something as cloak and dagger as that … for a travel guide.

  18. @writerdd: Yep really banned. There was another book at the same time but I can’t remember it’s title. At the time the MP Tony Benn read out loud (to a huge crowd) at Speakers corner in Hyde Park for about 5min before being “removed” by the police.

    There is also an episode of ST:TNG that never saw light of day in the UK because one of the characters mentions in passing that peace only came to Ireland after the Brits left Ulster. At the time the thought of people hearing that from Captain Pichard was too much for the government to bear, they might have agreed with him. It still hasnt been shown.

    On a side issue Britain has levels of government monitoring that the Starsi could only have dreamed of. The SUS laws (and these go back 30+ years) mean anyone going about his lawful business in a lawful way can be stopped and searched by the police…for no reason, you don’t have to be suspect, ever have committed a crime or be doing anything suspicious. Any copper can go through your pockets just because he feels like it. Oddly 20 times more young black men get searched than white men.

    You can be tried without being told the charge you are facing, and not have the chance to cross examine your accuser or even be allowed to be present in the court if you’re charged with a “security” crime. So they come in the middle of night, take you away, a couple of days later you are informed you’ve been found guilty of some crime and begin your life sentence.

    And on Friday the government introduced compulsory Bio-metric ID cards for “resident foreigners”, which they will have to carry with them all the time, containing all their personally details, fingerprint information, an iris scan, photo and what their entitlement to benifits are or not. Clearly it’s going to rolled out the whole populus and do you know what the biggest worry the british public have about all this is?

    “I wont have to pay £25 to have this ID card will i?” which is like saying “I dont care about my rights but the cost of a pair of jeans is too much to bear”. Like f*cking sheep, f*cking sheep

  19. Ironically, Fahrenheit 451 was once a banned book.

    You don’t have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them. – Ray Bradbury

  20. Ironically, Fahrenheit 451 is a banned book.

    You don’t have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them. – Ray Bradbury

  21. @russellsugden: And I always thought that the British government featured in Alan Moore’s V for Vendetta was more than likely just a bit overly paranoid and probably not possible. It appears I was wrong, partially anyway, so far. One more reason that, despite its problems, I am awfully glad to be an American.

  22. Back to Huck Finn. I’m white but my children are black. My ex-wife is black. We discussed this book once becuase we both hated censorship. She is insane but she is also occasional coherent. She understood that the book wasn’t racist. It is a great book and we must stop being wooses and pretending that the world isn’t a nasty place. People use language that makes us cringe but how many teenagers risk their lives to free someone from slavery?

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