Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Naked Truth About Banned Books

By Kelli Stanley

Authors are naked all the time. We bare our souls in prose, then stand in the wind waiting for people to whistle or jeer. Enough, already! You want naked, check out the video of Sally Rand below (she makes an appearance in CITY OF SECRETS, and was a delight to write).

Now that that's out of the way, I'm going off on a tangent to talk about something else ... banned books.

This is, after all, Banned Books Week. A week devoted to celebrating the works that challenge the intolerant and make certain so-called Boards of Education foam at the mouth.

These are books that offend the delicate sensibilities of the people that know they know best ... about what's right for you, your children, and society. Dissent is not tolerated--they won't listen to any arguments, and don't want their children too, either. The books--horror of horrors!--often present uncomfortable truths, truths that are not only inconvenient, but unacceptable to the world view of those who, after all, know better ...

In the words of Jack Nicholson:

What are some of the books? Let's start with a list of children's literature (including Newberry winners) that was recently published on the Huffington Post by the American Library Association and look at the reasons they were "challenged" by modern day fascists.

1. A Wrinkle in Time (one of my favorite books of all time, and a huge personal influence. I read it at the age of nine).

Reason: "undermines religious beliefs."

2. "Hansel and Gretel"

Reason: "teaches children that witches are evil and that it is acceptable to kill them."

3. Harry Potter series

Reason: "witchcraft, magic, darkness, cults, Satanism, etc. etc. etc."

4. The Lorax (Dr. Seuss' most important and heartfelt contribution to the planet)

Reason: "criminalizes the timber industry"

5. "The Little Mermaid" (an edition that apparently showed too much cleavage on the mermaids)

Reason: "pornographic and contains Satanic pictures"

The list of banned books for adults reads like a literary honor roll. As quoted on the ALA website:

"According to the Office for Intellectual Freedom, at least 46 of the Radcliffe Publishing Course Top 100 Novels of the 20th Century have been the target of ban attempts."

Some of those books include:

1. The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald
2. The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger
3. The Grapes of Wrath, by John Steinbeck
4. To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
5. The Color Purple, by Alice Walker
6. Ulysses, by James Joyce
7. Beloved, by Toni Morrison
8. The Lord of the Flies, by William Golding
9. 1984, by George Orwell
11. Lolita, by Vladmir Nabokov
12. Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck
15. Catch-22, by Joseph Heller
16. Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley
17. Animal Farm, by George Orwell
18. The Sun Also Rises, by Ernest Hemingway
19. As I Lay Dying, by William Faulkner
20. A Farewell to Arms, by Ernest Hemingway
23. Their Eyes Were Watching God, by Zora Neale Hurston
24. Invisible Man, by Ralph Ellison
25. Song of Solomon, by Toni Morrison

So stand up for yourself, with clothes or without, and read a banned book this week. Help libraries preserve the right to read. Comment here on banned books you've read and banned books you plan to read.Keep the Goebbels and the Falwells and those who would ram their private beliefs down everyone's throat away from your library, your television and your bedroom.

The book you save may be your own.


CITY OF SECRETS just came out two weeks ago ... hopefully it'll make the 2012 banned book list!

Kelli writes the award-winning Miranda Corbie series and lives in San Francisco ... a city which, if it could be banned, probably would be.


Allison Brennan said...

Hi Kelli!!! ... On the ALA top 100 challenged books list, I've read 37. I also blogged about banned book week!

J. R. Lindermuth said...

At least 37 or 38. Currently re-reading The Sun Also Rises.
Of Mice & Men and Lolita are on my annual re-read list.

Kelli Stanley said...

Happy Birthday, Allison!!! :) I hope you're celebrating today!!!

On which blog did you write about BBW? I'll run over and read ... and thanks for commenting!! 37 is a proud number, indeed!! :)

Kelli Stanley said...

J.R., I love The Sun Also Rises! Lady Brett and Co. ...

Of Mice and Men is incredibly moving. In high school, I used to get in debates with friends about who was a greater writer, Hemingway or Steinbeck ... it seemed like one of those "John or Paul" arguments. My answer now, of course, is "both." :)

Thanks for stopping by! And did you, perchance, ever see the film adaptation of Lolita?

Meredith Cole said...

I'm always amazed how many amazing books are on the banned books list... I was so lucky to have parents who encouraged me to read whatever I was interested in (and they owned a lot of books!). A Wrinkle in Time is one of my favs, too.

Kelli Stanley said...

Thanks for stopping by, Meredith!

It would be difficult to overestimate the impact A Wrinkle in Time had on me ... on just about every level, that book helped form my values, and made me feel a lot better about being a smart kid. :)

Luckily for us, we had great parents!!