Wednesday, September 28, 2011

banned books week

This week, September 24-October 1, is Banned Books Week! It celebrates literacy and freedom and the First Amendment.

This is a cause near and dear to my heart, which means I can rant on and on about it. I love reading and I believe in having the freedom to choose what you want to read.

I don't think it's right to ban a book or remove it from a library simply because a few people or groups of people disagree with what was written. A lot of the time books are banned from, say, schools because they are considered to have inappropriate words or ideas or events in them. Alright. But most of the time when books contain vulgar language or uncomfortable subjects, it's because that's what happens in real life and the author is only trying to portray it realistically, without sugar-coating it. They're not trying to corrupt our minds; they're just telling it like it is. Walk through the halls of any middle or high school, and you will hear curse words thrown out casually. Kids are exposed to this every day, and taking away books isn't going to shelter them any more.

On a similar thread, Harry Potter has been challenged repeatedly because of the subject of witchcraft. What some people don't seem to understand is that reading something doesn't mean you believe in it. We have to read Marx in school; does that mean they're trying to make us Communists? Of course not. By reading books, you gain a better understanding, not only of other cultures and other lives, but your own as well.

Here's a little review on a banned book I enjoyed.

One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez 
     My friend told me about this book a few years ago. She's also the one who told me to read Gone With the Wind and the Hunger Games, so I guess we have similar tastes. Anyway, I bought it used a while ago and it wasn't until several months later that I actually started to read it. It took me a long time to get through, mainly because of the long sentences and the confusing names (there are legit at least 23 characters with the name Aureliano -- but most of them aren't important) and family tree. However, once you look past the surface, you enjoy the stellar story line and the intriguing characters.
    It's set in the fictional, South American town of Macondo and it follows several generations of the Buendia family who live there. It details marriages, wars, births, and deaths. It's magic realism, so it incorporates things not normally found in real life seamlessly with history. It's been a while since I read it, but it's essentially the life of a family, with all the good times and the bad swirled together and mixed with some excellent writing. 
    Some people have accused this book of promoting "offensive language, disrespect for religious and political authority, and sexually explicit, emotionally disturbing scenes and themes, including war, death, incest and implications of the occult". While it may contain brief passages of those above concepts, it ties back to what I said earlier. Just because the book mentions incest doesn't mean the author thinks it's okay. It doesn't mean that now that I've read this book, I think it's okay. No, no, no. I will concede that it contains mature themes and if you don't think you're mature enough or don't want to read about those things, then by all means, don't read this book. But I don't think it's emotionally disturbing. It's a story and I'm still pretty emotionally together after reading this. Read at your own discretion, but know if you pass it over because of a few things, you'll be missing a great story. 

That's my two cents on Banned Books Week. Read any good banned books lately? (Here's a list of some.)



  1. Cien AƱos de Soledad- read this book in spanish. Sorta depressing, but really quite worth it. The author talks in a beautiful way. Have fun reading!!

    xo flor

  2. A banned book I've enjoyed recently? Hmm..The 'Adventures of Huckleberry Finn' by Mark Twain. Brilliant book. I also love 'The Giver' and 'The Hunger Games' which I think may be banned. And so many more! :)

    Really interesting post, Kendall!

  3. Banned Books Week should be more well known! It completely passed me so far this week {thanks for the tweet}. From that list that you've read, I've read Like Water For Chocolate, Speak, To Kill A Mockingbird, The Giver, Twilight {yes... I have} The Catcher In The Rye, and Huck Finn. I love JD Salinger right now--especially Raise High The Roof Beam, Carpenters. And when my brother moved out he last weekend he left a lot of books from his job at a second hand bookshop. 100 Years Of Solitude and The Perks Of Being A Wallflower are there somewhere...

  4. from the list you gave, i've read several, such as to kill a mockingbird and the giver, both of which were wonderful books! :)
    you're completely right about how taking away certain books aren't going to shelter people any more.

    i now blog at - would love if you dropped by :)


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