Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Why do books get banned?

Why do books get banned? Why do people ask that books get banned? I mean, I see all the reasons that are given: sexual content, explicit language, drug use, promoting socialism (frealzies you guys?), violence. But what do they really hope banning a book will accomplish? Other than shining a big spotlight on these books and getting even more people to read them. Unless, that is their idea. Sneaky, sneaky marketing.

Look, I get that some material is inappropriate for children. I'm not saying that every child should be reading everything that's out there. Hell, sometimes I wish I hadn't read American Psycho cos, really, I didn't need to know anything that had to do with that rat scene*. And if/when I have a kid, I'm sure I'm not going to want them to read certain things, at least until they're old enough to understand it. But that doesn't mean I think I should decide what that guy down the street should be allowed to read.Oh, parents should also know exactly what it is they're banning, because whenever I read someone's rant about why a book should be banned from a school it's pretty clear that the person has never bothered to read the book. At least know what you're complaining about**.

Maybe it takes a certain level of vanity to believe you know best for everyone. And I do think this is the case, because book banners seem to think they're doing a good thing. Their intentions are good even if the result is dumb.Unless of course they're hoping these books will get more attention. In which case, you have succeeded.

Since I wrote this a couple other bloggers have posted their thoughts on book banning that I encourage you to check out if you haven't already
Dead White Guys: Can Your Kids Read Whatevs?
Dead End Follies: The Irony of Banning Books

Anyway, to build on my last post where I bragged about books I had read (or am shamed by the ones I didn't, depending on your view) here are the books that have been most often banned/challenged/etc in 2010/2011 that I have read and recommend. Some of them because they're super awesome amazing (Brave New World) and some because I think they're just pretty good but they're banned so that's how you know they're better than normal (Speak).
2010/2011 Banned books

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
Nickled and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich
Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer
Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson
The Curious Incident of the Dog at Night Time by Mark Haddon
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison
The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
The Awakening by Kate Chopin

*I feel like it's important to know that having completed the book, I proceeded to get at least 2 1/2 other people to read it. Because I'm a sharer. And also because I had these images burned into my brain, so someone is joining me. 1 was on purpose and she already had an idea of what she was getting into because she's a fan of Ellis and had lent me The Rules of Attraction. Then she and I tried to convince someone else to read it, but that person never finished it. Smart lady. Boyfriend is the other one who finished it, although I actually tried to talk him out of it. He brought it with him on a long work trip and told me about it after he was already gone. I warned him not to read it and he just kept telling me he can handle a little violence. Until he got around 1/2 way through and I got phone calls that were closer to "WTF is wrong with this guy??? Why, why, why did that happen??"

**I had a high school History teacher who listened to an entire Eminem album (I think the second one judging by when I had this teacher but who knows) because his son wanted the album but obviously there had been some controversy around the rapper. After listening to it he decided it was fine for his kid. And that is what being a parent is about: listening to an entire Eminem album to decide if it's OK for your kid. You know, at least that's what I took from that lecture and also I have no kids so what do I know.