After Hours

Still reading banned books

Avid reader Edmond Woychowsky discusses 10 books that were banned or challenged in 2010 and 2011.

Banned Books Week 2011 is September 24-October 1. I experienced something of a time warp when I looked at the list of the top 10 challenged books in 2010 in the United States because the third title was required reading when I was in high school during the Pliocene:

While it has been quite a while since I read Brave New World, I couldn't think of anything that could offend anyone in that book. In fact, I had to ask around to get even a hint of something that someone could find offensive, and the best guess that was offered was birth control. So, I decided to take a look at some of the other books on the list.

  • And Tango Makes Three is a children's book; it's a true story about two male penguins that hatch a donated egg and raise the chick as their own.
  • The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian is a semi-autobiographical tale of a poor, bright teenage boy growing up on a reservation who is frequently the target of bullies.
  • Crank is the story of a young woman who is addicted to crystal meth, or crank as it is called on the street.
  • The Hunger Games is set in a post-apocalyptic United States where children are used as gladiators on television for entertainment.
  • Lush is the story of a girl entering her teenage years in the shadow of her alcoholic father.
  • What My Mother Doesn't Know is about a teenage girl whose mother is totally oblivious to anything in the world beyond soap operas, including her daughter.
  • Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America, written by the extremely talented Ms. Ehrenreich, is a work of non-fiction whose title is self-explanatory.
  • Revolutionary Voice is a collection of stories written by the young and those who lead an alternative lifestyle.
  • Twilight. If you haven't heard of this teenage vampire tale, allow me to congratulate you on returning from your deep space mission.

Those who feel they can decide what people are allowed to read, know, or think seem to live their lives with blinders on. They want a world where nothing outside of their narrow ideology is permitted. The topic of banned books brings up the same image in my mind again and again. In both instances, books are demonized by a group of people for not conforming to their world view. If the book banners are offended by the comparison, well, we are known by our deeds. Those who ban books should consider this: What will they do when their ideology doesn't fit into someone else's world view?

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