Banned Books Week 2009

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In case you missed it, this is Banned Books Week.  I’m a bit behind on everything right now, or I’d have some new reviews or book spotlights especially for this week.  Since I don’t, I’d love to direct you to the seven book spotlights I did last year.  In each you’ll find the book’s status, the reason it was challenged, and my thoughts.  Remember, just because the post is a year old, there’s no reason you can’t comment on it!

Without further ado, my Banned Book spotlights:

Banned Books Week Spotlight – A Wrinkle in Time

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle

Original publication date: 1962

This week is banned books week in the United States.  All week I will be highlighting banned, challenged, and censored books I own and have read.

Publisher description:

It was a dark and stormy night; Meg Murry, her small brother Charles Wallace, and her mother had come down to the kitchen for a midnight snack when they were upset by the arrival of a most disturbing stranger.

“Wild nights are my glory,” the unearthly stranger told them. “I just got caught in a downdraft and blown off course. Let me sit down for a moment, and then I’ll be on my way. Speaking of ways, by the way, there is such a thing as a tesseract.”

A tesseract (in case the reader doesn’t know) is a wrinkle in time. To tell more would rob the reader of the enjoyment of Miss L’Engle’s unusual book. A Wrinkle in Time, winner of the Newbery Medal in 1963, is the story of the adventures in space and time of Meg, Charles Wallace, and Calvin O’Keefe (athlete, student, and one of the most popular boys in high school). They are in search of Meg’s father, a scientist who disappeared while engaged in secret work for the government on the tesseract problem.

Status: Challenged in the United States (citation: #23).

Reason for challenge in the U.S.: Although Madeleine L’Engle is a Christian and writes books with religious themes (one could say they are similar to C.S. Lewis’ “Narnia” series, but more science fiction than fantasy), her books – particularly “A Wrinkle in Time” – have been challenged for essentially being too liberal a brand of Christianity.  Reasons given for challenges include characters who are witches (they are not, actually, although one is named Mrs Which), crystal balls (not actually a crystal ball), and for challenging religious beliefs because Jesus is included in a list along with artists, philosophers and scientists (this is a list of people who are trying to bring light to Earth, not of ‘gods’ or some such thing) (citation).

My thoughts: When I first read this book in grade school, I really didn’t get it and wasn’t all the crazy about it, perhaps because of the science fiction elements.  I reread it in middle school, though, and have loved it ever since.  It certainly never challenged my religious beliefs.  I actually also just reread this book in honor of banned books week, and you can see my review here.

Your Turn: Have you read “A Wrinkle in Time” or any of L’Engle’s other books?  What did you think?  If you are a Christian, does it challenge your religious beliefs for Jesus to be listed with philosophers and scientists as ‘one who brings light to the earth’?

Buy this book on Amazon.

Check out my Banned Books Week Spotlights all week, every day at 2 pm Central through Saturday, Octobter 4th.

Kaffir Boy: The True Story of a Black Youth’s Coming of Age in Apartheid South AfricaThe Grapes of WrathThe Handmaid’s TaleNative SonTo Kill a MockingbirdLord of the Flies

Rebecca of The Book Lady’s Blog is doing Banned Books Week Spotlights as well, every morning at 9 am.  Check her out as well!

The Perks of Being a Wallflower — And Tango Makes Three — Catch-22 — The Giver — The Things They Carried — The Bluest Eye — It’s Perfectly Normal — Fahrenheit 451

Banned Books Week Spotlight – Lord of the Flies

Lord of the Fliesby William Golding

Original publication date: 1954

This week is banned books week in the United States.  All week I will be highlighting banned, challenged, and censored books I own and have read.

Publisher description:

William Golding’s classic tale about a group of English schoolboys who are plane-wrecked on a deserted island is just as chilling and relevant today as when it was first published in 1954. At first, the stranded boys cooperate, attempting to gather food, make shelters, and maintain signal fires. Overseeing their efforts are Ralph, “the boy with fair hair,” and Piggy, Ralph’s chubby, wisdom-dispensing sidekick whose thick spectacles come in handy for lighting fires. Although Ralph tries to impose order and delegate responsibility, there are many in their number who would rather swim, play, or hunt the island’s wild pig population. Soon Ralph’s rules are being ignored or challenged outright. His fiercest antagonist is Jack, the redheaded leader of the pig hunters, who manages to lure away many of the boys to join his band of painted savages. The situation deteriorates as the trappings of civilization continue to fall away, until Ralph discovers that instead of being hunters, he and Piggy have become the hunted: “He forgot his words, his hunger and thirst, and became fear; hopeless fear on flying feet.” Golding’s gripping novel explores the boundary between human reason and animal instinct, all on the brutal playing field of adolescent competition. –Jennifer Hubert

Status: Repeatedly challenged in the United States (citation).

Reason for challenge in the U.S.: Like “To Kill a Mockingbird,” this one is a dozy.  Here’s the list: demoralizing because of implications that man is no more than an animal; excessive violence; profanity (“Sucks to your as-mar!”); racism; statements defamatory to women, minorities, the disabled, and God (citation).

My thoughts: I concede that “Lord of the Flies” is violent and demoralizing but, in my opinion, this is not handled in a gratuitous way.  Like “The Handmaid’s Tale,” “Lord of the Flies” could be called dystopian.  This is a novel about the dangers of what we can become if we completely ignore the rules of society and civilization.  Whether you agree with Golding’s assessments of human nature or not, it is sure a good conversation starter.  We read this freshman year in high school and I would not consider it too violent and graphic for us, primarily because it isn’t just trash, it is literature, and we discussed it as literature, working through some of the difficult issues in the book with our teacher and as a class.

Your Turn: Have you read “Lord of the Flies”?  What do you think?  Do you think discussing different philosophies of human nature is educationally valuable?  Why or why not?

Buy this book on Amazon.

Check out my Banned Books Week Spotlights all week, every day at 2 pm Central through Saturday, Octobter 4th.

Kaffir Boy: The True Story of a Black Youth’s Coming of Age in Apartheid South AfricaThe Grapes of WrathThe Handmaid’s TaleNative SonTo Kill a Mockingbird

Rebecca of The Book Lady’s Blog is doing Banned Books Week Spotlights as well, every morning at 9 am.  Check her out as well!

The Perks of Being a WallflowerAnd Tango Makes ThreeCatch-22 The GiverThe Things They CarriedThe Bluest EyeIt’s Perfectly Normal

Banned Books Week Spotlight – To Kill a Mockingbird

To Kill a Mockingbirdby Harper Lee

Original publication date: 1960

This week is banned books week in the United States.  All week I will be highlighting banned, challenged, and censored books I own and have read.

Publisher description:

Lawyer Atticus Finch defends the real mockingbird of Harper Lee’s classic, Puliter Prize-winning novel–a black man charged with the rape of a white woman. Through the eyes of Atticus’s children, Scout and Jem Finch, Harper Lee explores with rich humor and unanswering honesty the irrationality of adult attitudes toward race and class in the Deep South of the 1930’s.

Status: Challenged and occasionally temporarily banned at libraries and high schools around the country (citation).

Reason for challenge in the U.S.: Wow, people really went to town on this one: vulgar language (because of the words ‘whore lady’), representing institutional racism (I don’t get it, did they deny this exists/existed?  Do they think TKAMB promotes institutional racism??), use of the word n*gg*r, racial themes, conflicting with the values of the community (get me out of that community!), profanity, racial slurs, being degrading to African Americans (citation).

My thoughts: It drives me crazy that a depiction of racism is challenged for racial themes.  READ THE BOOK, PEOPLE!  Clearly Atticus is dissatisfied with the status of race relations in his community, he is working to make a change.  It wouldn’t be dramatic that he is fighting racism if Lee didn’t include a realistic description of racism.  Like “The Grapes of Wrath,” this is one of my favorite books of all time (.doc), and one I re-read frequently.

Your Turn: Have you read “To Kill a Mockingbird”?  What do you think?  Does it accurately depict race relations in the South at the time of writing, or is it a racist novel?

Buy this book on Amazon.

Check out my Banned Books Week Spotlights all week, every day at 2 pm Central through Saturday, Octobter 4th.

Kaffir Boy: The True Story of a Black Youth’s Coming of Age in Apartheid South AfricaThe Grapes of WrathThe Handmaid’s TaleNative SonIn Cold Blood

Rebecca of The Book Lady’s Blog is doing Banned Books Week Spotlights as well, every morning at 9 am.  Check her out as well!

The Perks of Being a WallflowerAnd Tango Makes ThreeCatch-22 The GiverThe Things They CarriedThe Bluest Eye

 

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Banned Books Week Spotlight – In Cold Blood

In Cold Blood by Truman Capote

Original publication date: 1966

This week is banned books week in the United States.  All week I will be highlighting banned, challenged, and censored books I own and have read.

Publisher description:

Until one morning in mid-November of 1959, few Americans–in fact, few Kansans–had ever heard of Holcomb. Like the waters of the river, like the motorists on the highway, and like the yellow trains streaking down the Santa Fe tracks, drama, in the shape of exceptional happenings, had never stopped there.” If all Truman Capote did was invent a new genre–journalism written with the language and structure of literature–this “nonfiction novel” about the brutal slaying of the Clutter family by two would-be robbers would be remembered as a trail-blazing experiment that has influenced countless writers. But Capote achieved more than that. He wrote a true masterpiece of creative nonfiction. The images of this tale continue to resonate in our minds: 16-year-old Nancy Clutter teaching a friend how to bake a cherry pie, Dick Hickock’s black ’49 Chevrolet sedan, Perry Smith’s Gibson guitar and his dreams of gold in a tropical paradise–the blood on the walls and the final “thud-snap” of the rope-broken necks.

Status: Banned but later reinstated at a high school in Georgia (citation).

Reason for challenge in the U.S.: Parental complaints of sex, violence, and profanity (citation), what else!

My thoughts: “In Cold Blood” was certainly a dark book, but it was also a gripping one.  The depictions of the vicious murder of the Clutter family were horrifyingly realistic.  Perhaps even more disturbing, Capote almost manages to make the reader identify with the murderers.

Your Turn: Have you ever read “In Cold Blood” or any other creative nonfiction true crime books?  What did you think?  How do you feel about true crime books in general?

Buy this book on Amazon.

Check out my Banned Books Week Spotlights all week, every day at 2 pm Central through Saturday, Octobter 4th.

Kaffir Boy: The True Story of a Black Youth’s Coming of Age in Apartheid South AfricaThe Grapes of WrathThe Handmaid’s TaleNative Son

Rebecca of The Book Lady’s Blog is doing Banned Books Week Spotlights as well, every morning at 9 am.  Check her out as well!

The Perks of Being a WallflowerAnd Tango Makes ThreeCatch-22 The GiverThe Things They Carried