Celebrating #BannedBooksWeek: Banned Books I Love

10.04.2015


As a bookworm, student, and general community member, I strongly feel that book banning is heinous. I do think now that this issue is less frequent than it has been in the past. However, the fact that restricting certain novels to all based on a small portion's opinion still exists baffles me. It was recently-only last month, in fact- that New Zealand banned Into the River by Ted Dawe, a YA novel shunned for its cursing and "sexual content". Not to mention the restriction of Some Girls Are to eager students in a South Carolina high school without consent from a banning committee. 

Incidents like these drive my passion for combating this issue. So, I was ecstatic to celebrate this year's #BannedBooksWeek, which spanned from September 27 to October 3. I am appalled to find that many of my favorite books are or have previously been banned to larger audiences because of their content. I firmly believe that everyone should have the opportunity to select their own reading.

I am proud to read banned books. Here are a few of my favorites:

The Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling
(Nonsensical) reasons why some ban this book: occult, magic, "too strong" themes, violence
Rowling's works have been favorites of mine since I was in second grade. I try to re-read the series every year and I find something new to draw from it each time I do. I am appalled people consider restricting books at all, but banning the Harry Potter books especially irks me. Admittedly, a large part of that is my love for the series, but I also think that naysayers debase many of the positive messages the books spread, aside from what already is an attention-grabbing, edge-of-your-seat kind of read. Friendship, fairness, bravery, love, and kindness are a few key qualities characters in these books portray and encourage audiences to be themselves. This series presents memorable characters journeying on life-changing adventures to the personalities themselves and readers. I like to think that, even years from now, I will still treasure this series as one of the most influential I have read and a true favorite.


Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
(Nonsensical) reasons why some ban this book: thematic material
The common banning of Fahrenheit 451 is ironic, really, seeing as the book targets book banning and burning. In Bradbury's classic work, a modern, oppressive society restricts knowledge. Its firemen work to start fires- to burn books, specifically- instead of putting them out. I read this book last year and remain glad that I did. Even thinking about the story gives me the chills; everyone, aside from Montag, our protagonist, Clarisse, a neighbor, and a few English enthusiasts Montag meets in his journey seek overwhelming sameness. Community members fear emotion and purposely reject creativity in an effort to standardize all people and processes. The scary thing is, these community members want sameness. They are driven by their "same-old-same-old" routines and hate any mention of knowledge. 


The Giver by Lois Lowry
(Nonsensical) reasons why some ban this book: violence, unsuited for age group
Somewhat similar to Fahrenheit 451, The Giver highlights an oppressive, futuristic society where knowledge is hidden. In this story, main character Jonas is selected to receive all his community's memories and emotions, while community members live painless, mindless, repetitive lives. This book was one of the first "official" young adult novels I read (and, on that note, it's due for a re-read soon). The Giver truly forces readers to think about the content they're reading. The cliffhanger ending sparks interest and imagination, too.


Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes
(Nonsensical) reasons why some ban this book: sexual content, thematic content
Admittedly, I was not a fan of some of the sexual content in Flowers for Algernon. However, I do not see it as a reason to completely restrict the book for other readers, or consider it a book I disliked due to the single aspect. I read an edited excerpt of this novel, which omitted a massive amount of detail, for English class last year. Out of curiosity, I decided to pick up the full version this book. I am glad I did. Keyes explains the story of Charlie, a mentally disabled patient. Scientists operate on his mind to increase his intelligence after testing the experiment on a mouse- Algernon. As time passes, Charlie becomes smarter and smarter, until finally, his intelligence surpasses that of those who originally operated on him. The story is written from Charlie's perspective, in the form of handwritten journal entries that change with his intelligence. I am trying to avoid spoilers, but Flowers for Algernon was a mix of breathtaking, saddening, and shocking.

Do you have a favorite banned book?

20 comments :

  1. I remember reading Harry Potter in the fourth grade, and my mom's friend (who is a school administrator) told me that the book should be restricted to people my age simply because of the witchcraft they thought were "demonic." Witchcraft is against my religion, but I really don't think Rowling intended to promote that kind of witchcraft that is against beliefs.

    Great post Claire! I understand why some books are banned. But I remember seeing a Banned Books list back then, and it had Amy & Roger. Now I am so upset :(

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm sorry to hear about that experience, Jillian:( I understand that practicing witchcraft can conflict with some beliefs, but I highly doubt that J. K. Rowling intentionally set out to violate certain religions with magical aspects. I do think, though, that she intended to use magic to enhance the story line, setting, etc., of the Harry Potter series, which I think she did successfully.

      Delete
  2. Thankfully I never had any backlash from reading Harry Potter, but I was shocked when I found out just how often it has been banned. My theory is, if the child feels comfortable reading it, then it should be ok.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sounds good to me, Emily! I can understand parents wanting to modify their own child's reading, but it isn't right to impose that modification on everyone. Everyone has different beliefs and opinions. Like you, I was very shocked to find that Harry Potter was frequently banned.

      Delete
  3. I don't understand why any of these books are banned. In fact, these are actually some of my favorite books of all time. I remember reading The Giver and absolutely adoring it. It made me think in a way I've never thought before, and it made me see the world in a whole new light. Same with Harry Potter - it showed me the power of friendship and love. I can't imagine how sad it would be if other children weren't able to experience the same wonders these books hold as I did. Thanks for sharing this post Claire and, as always, fabulous post! ♥

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Zoe! And neither do I! It's not fair for certain books to be restricted to all based on the perspective of a few. Many of my favorite books, which made me think, are banned too. It really saddens me.

      Delete
  4. I've read Harry Potter and Fahrenheit 451. I don't know if I've read any other banned books. I only became a real reader about 3 years ago. I think it's crazy that there are banned books because book can really challenge the way a person thinks, which I think is a good thing. We all have voice and deserve to be heard. Great post!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Sarah! I agree with what you said about books challenging one way of thinking being a positive thing. As Zoe mentioned, too, a lot of my favorite books on the banned books list are novels that have made me reconsider my own perspectives and opinions. They have made me open-minded to considering others' ideas.

      Delete
  5. It kills me when books are banned. How can we do that? Restrict what someone has the access to read. I think all forms of information should be available to everyone. Don't people realize that banning books is what dystopian societies in books do? Anyway, loved this post so much, Claire!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It kills me too, Erin! Haha, and very true, banning books is a bit of a dystopian-society move (I mean, just look at Fahrenheit 451)!

      Delete
  6. Omigoodness, I can't believe Flowers for Algernon is banned? I thought it was a weird book when I read it in middle school, but couldn't help but note the elements in it that made it so touching and memorable. (The movie though, that was a blast lmao.)
    Next thing we know, someone's going to bring all the books to Mars to preserve them because everyone wants to get rid of them. (My subtle allusion to the Martian Chronicles, which thankfully is not banned, to my knowledge. :P)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I haven't seen the movie for Flowers for Algernon yet, but I've heard some mixed reviews about it. Haha, who knows... at the rate things are being banned, we may have to enlist the help of extraterrestrial species to really bring books to Mars...O_O
      Just kidding, of course, but I completely see where you're coming from!:)

      Delete
  7. I love the banners! They are so cuuuute. I love Harry Potter and am always surprised when I see it on the banned list. I also love The Giver! It is one of my favorite books and really makes me appreciate life. I haven't read Fahrenheit 451, although I do own the book. Nice list :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Aww thank you Jess! I completely recommend Fahrenheit 451! It's one of my favorite classics.

      Delete
  8. I'm mortified that banning books is still a thing - even more so when I see books like Harry Potter being banned often. That series does not only portrays a magical world in which every person should be happy to be lost in, but can teach many-many life lessons to children. Lessons, they might not be able to learn at home if they have a family anything like the Dursleys. The Giver is also a very beautiful book that, I think, should be a required read in schools. Actually, I haven't read the other two books but I'm really looking forward to Fahrenheit 451, and feel like the reason it is banned for might be the stupidest of them all.
    Great post, Claire! As usual, the graphics are gorgeous, too. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Veronika!:) Exactly! Book banning is completely, completely preposterous. As I mentioned above, it is incredibly ironic that Fahrenheit 451 is banned, and you're right, it's pretty stupid. The book is literally about the dangers of book banning and how it negatively impacts society, and now it's banned. Funny how that works...

      Delete
  9. I love the Harry Potter series. Just love it! Other banned books that are among my favorites are The Perks of Being a Wallflower, To Kill a Mockingbird, Twenty Boy Summer, and the Catcher in the Rye. There are so, so, so many more, but I don't want to leave a huge list in your comments.

    Erin @ The Hardcover Lover

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Haha I understand, Erin! I haven't read the Perks of Being a Wallflower yet, but I've heard it's good!

      Delete
  10. Harry Potter and The Giver are some of my favorite books of all time. It boggles my mind that people want to ban books at all. If you don't like something about a book, then don't read it...but don't tell me that I can;t read it either!

    ReplyDelete