Banned Books Reading List
A list of banned books, the reasons they were banned, and why you should read them. Many schools, churches, or other organizations will sometimes add a book to a list of books that they do not support. Despite the anti-censorship stance of the American Library Association, sometimes books are removed from public libraries in a similar spirit of disapproval. However, some of the most influential novels of all time have been considered “banned” by one group or another. Pick up a banned book today in honor of Banned Book Week, September 22-28, 2013.
An Unforgettable Childhood
Persepolis, a graphic novel by Marjane Satrapi is a memoir about a young girl who grows up amidst the Islamic Revolution in Tehran. The outspoken, female character speaks out openly against sexism, xenophobia, and war, while also dealing with real-life teenage girl issues like attraction to boys and coming to terms with her religion, her God. The setting changes during the story, moving to Austria during the girl’s teenage years offering some cultural comparisons and introducing some conflict as well.
While the book has been recommended as an intellectually stimulating book that has been used in classrooms worldwide and was included on Time Magazine’s “Best Comics of 2003” list, the book has been removed from many Chicago classrooms. Administration of the Chicago School District, sent back this particular title, removing it from the library along with several classrooms. The head of school libraries has since fought to keep the story of Persepolis on library shelves, making it available to students who wish to read it outside their English classrooms.
Lovecraft and Tentacles Meet FBI
Alan Moore has written many genre-shattering graphic novels such as Watchmen which was listed on Time Magazine’s “Top 100 Best Novels” and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen which has since won an armful of respectable awards such as the Bram Stoker Award for Best Illustrative Narrative along with being a forerunner in the genre of modern steampunk, the contemporary author’s interpretation of authors such as H. G. Wells and Jules Verne. If you haven’t read a graphic novel by Alan Moore, then you can’t really say you’ve read one. Especially since some of his early work was on such well-known comic book stories in both the Marvel and DC universes.
When a librarian in Greenville County, South Carolina banned Moore’s “Neonomicon,” a work that was written after Moore notoriety was common knowledge to book-lovers and readers everywhere, the natural reaction was surprise. The graphic novel was shelved in the adult section since the novel contained mature content, but when a 14-year old girl checked it out, the issue was brought to the head librarian. Despite the recommendation from an “internal committee” to keep the book in the collection, the head librarian decided to override their recommendation. The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund spoke to the message of the graphic novel, claiming that the “deliberately disturbing depictions of sexual violence are included as a critical comment on how such subject matter is handled elsewhere within the genre.” In plain English the defense group is saying that horror stories and movies often treat sexuality with a meaningless, campy attitude and Moore was doing the opposite of that by showing that violence and sexuality is very real and very scary. The sexuality is not intended to be titillating, but rather terrifying.
No, Not Like the Mascot
The ultimate underdog, Juinor is a teenager growing up on an Indian reservation in Washington state. He loves to draw and wants to be a cartoonist when he grows up. Sherman Alexie, the author of this title, is known for writing relatable and real stories for teenagers that become apart of you as you read them. The story is funny at times and heartbreaking at others, giving an unedited view of what a child might go through while attending a high school where the only other Indian is the school’s mascot.
The year it was released, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian won no less than 5 different awards, acknowledging it for everything from being best book of the year to best book for young people and amazing audiobooks for young adults. By 2010, the novel had been acclaimed in pretty much every area where it qualified. A New York City school banned the book after a parent compared the title to 50 Shades of Grey, claiming that it encouraged masturbation. While they’re at it, they may want to take a closer look at some of the greatest works of literature in history including Ragtime E. L. Doctorow, Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, Hamlet, and pretty much anything by Hemingway which all contain more sexually explicit material than Alexie’s beautiful little novel.
Hitting the Books for a Double Standard
One of the most recent banned book is actually intended for adults but has been removed from bookshelves in Australia. The fuss is all about the story which depicts a scenario many are familiar with only through the news, papers and television. Being called both “disgusting” and “sickening,” the story is about a female teachers who commits statutory rape with one of her 14-year-old students. Alissa Nutting, the author of Tampa, examines the situation to the point of discomfort. She wonders why the public rarely sees it as a crime when a woman rapes an underage male when it is absolutely unquestionable who is at fault the other way around. These along with other questions are asked and explored during the novel that becomes quite graphic in its descriptions.
A sexually charged 26-year-old teacher narrates this story to reveal the underlying criminality of her seduction. The frighteningly candid retelling of the situations where Celeste plays both the role of a teacher and sexual predator is deemed “Gutsy” by Time Magazine and compares itself to American Psycho, allowing the reader to get inside the mind of a true sociopath.