I’ve been doing reviews of books I’ve been reading (not a lot, since the bulk of my book reading is done in the moments between going to bed and actually falling asleep), and because of that I’ve been looking at more blogs and websites dedicated to books and writing. And of course, since I’m so in the loop about all sorts of stuff, I found out today that there is a whole week dedicated to banned books. This year, that happens to be this week. There are lots of books that have been banned or attempted to be banned, but for the purposes of this post I’ll be referencing this article that I found.
First, my thoughts on banned books. It shouldn’t be allowed. Period. I have to begin by saying that I’m not a parent and have no plans on being one, but I am an aunt, cousin, and friend to children whose education I care about. I firmly believe that the best way for children to get the best education possible is to question things. Being spoon-fed all your knowledge and thoughts will not prepare anyone for the real world, because the most successful people in this world are not automatons who repeat back everything they’ve been told without question. No, successful people challenge everything, push the limits, and understand the world in which they live. The study of literature in general teaches us to think critically so that we can better interpret the world around us. Banning books does no favors for anyone. Check out this list of most ironically banned books, and even if you thought banning books might be a good idea, you’ll start to see how ridiculous it is. I mean, really – Fahrenheit 451?
(Of course, poorly written crap that leaves readers less intelligent after reading can be banned.)
Now, for my thoughts on books I’ve read that are on the previously mentioned banned books list.
- The Harry Potter Series – I never got into this until I met my husband. I have since read all the books, all in a row, and I find the stories consistent from one book to the next, the character development to be above par, and the theme of love to be an integral part of this series, but in an unexpected way. Plus, as 11 Points said, it did re-introduce the joy of reading to an entire generation. You can’t fault it for that.
- A Prayer for Owen Meany – One of my favorites. Look for my review on this book soon, as I recently finished a 2nd reading of it. Is Owen’s unwavering faith too much for people to handle? Or is it the way that John questions Owen’s faith (along with his own)?
- The Grapes of Wrath – After East of Eden, I was compelled to read more Steinbeck. It’s a great story of a family during the Depression years, and I encourage everyone to read it, if you haven’t already.
- The Great Gatsby – I read this in high school and college,and even though the lists say it’s been banned at times, I can’t for the life of me figure out why. Maybe because it doesn’t depict a perfect suburban middle-class life? It is an excellent book, though.
- Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl – required summer reading before I started my freshman year of high school. I was a slacker and didn’t read it. Banned in part because it’s supposedly too sad. Shouldn’t books stir emotion inside of us? Must it always be happiness?
- To Kill a Mockingbird – I remember really enjoying this book, to the point that I read it too fast and didn’t absorb it as well as I could have. Must re-read.
- I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings – I read this in Contemporary Lit in high school. I had a hard time with it, but this book taught me that any story is easier to digest if you can pick out one thing in the book that you personally identify with. Perhaps if I read it again I’ll find something.
- One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest – on the list in my Contemporary Lit class. I kinda sorta didn’t read this one (but still passed the class), but still remember some of the major themes of this book.
- East of Eden – another one of my favorite books ever. I read it for the first time in Contemporary Lit in high school, and have re-read it a few times since. EPIC novel made even better when you start getting into the character development, because I think that we can each see a bit of ourselves in every character (even Cathy/Kate).
As an independent thinker, I really have no idea what’s so wrong with the above books that we can’t let them be taught in our schools and stocked in our libraries. I would encourage everyone to read banned books (and other books) and speak out against banning books.