i read banned books.

banned books week.jpg

I follow a lot of bookstagrammers and have been reminded several times this week that it’s Banned Books Week.

As I looked over the list of banned classics and the lists of the top ten books banned every year since ’01, I realized that I’ve read a lot of them.  And I don’t think that’s a bad thing.

For instance, The Bible was banned for “religious content.”  To Kill a Mockingbird was banned for “racial slurs and profanity.”  Lord of the Rings (and other Tolkien novels) were banned as “satanic.”  The Grapes of Wrath was banned for “sexual content and profanity.” (Find all these reasons and more here.)

I didn’t write a blog post about Banned Books Week last year, but I thought about it.  And now, since I’ve read so many more classics (seriously, this American Lit course is kind of ridiculous), I have many more thoughts about it.

(Hence the blog post.)

One of the things I’ve thought about books is that while there are valid reasons to ban books from libraries – especially school libraries – it’s ultimately just up to the reader. There’s nothing stopping a reader from simply going to the bookstore or getting a book online that wasn’t available at their library.  Of course, it’s less likely they’ll spend money on it rather than just find a library that has it, but there’s very little point to keeping a book out of a high school library.  (Elementary and middle schools are a completely different story, however.)

However, the main reason is that people shouldn’t tell other people what not to read.  I understand parents not allowing their children to read something, but you can’t just mass-ban something just because you don’t agree with it.

Many of these books were banned for good reason, and I understand putting warning stickers on them or something (like the “Explicit” stickers on albums)… but banning them?  What about all the good in them?

To Kill a Mockingbird isn’t just racial surs – it’s about friendship and family and – HELLO – the opposite of racism.

Lord of the Rings isn’t just – well, first of all, it isn’t even satanic, okay?  And it’s about love and friendship and courage and defying the odds and it’s just all-around amazing.

The Hunger Games is about standing up for what’s right and fighting for what you believe in.

Harry Potter is about tenacity and friendship and John 15:13 love and courage and perseverance.  (And that doesn’t even scratch the surface – read my posts about it here and here.)

Some of my favorite books of all time have language and/or inappropriate scenes in them. I recommend Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell to lots of friends because I connected so much to it, as I do with The Little Women Letters by Gabrielle Donnelly.  Both have language (although the former has significantly more than the latter), but I still recommend them. Why?  Because they’re good.

Bottom line, books shouldn’t be banned.  Decide what you want to read for yourself.  If you don’t like language, don’t read something that has language – simple as that.  I’ve “ClearPlay’d” books before for friends (and for myself) and while I kind of dislike it because you’re defacing a book (!!!!!!), it does get rid of the language.

Have you ever read a *gasp* banned book?  If so, which one?  Do you think they should be banned?


14 thoughts on “i read banned books.

  1. I’ve read quite a few banned classics. And I feel kinda conflicted about other people banning books, because there are some books that I believe should be banned (mostly stuff like 50 Shades). But, HELLO, free speech! I guess I’m of the opinion that books shouldn’t be banned, but at the same time, people shouldn’t take that to mean that they can write whatever trash they want and it’s fine because ‘free speech’ and ‘we have rights’. Know what I mean? Just because it’s technically legal doesn’t mean it’s moral, y’know?

    Anyway, that’s my speech for the day. 🙂

    Also, I want to read Fangirl because I’ve heard that The Outsiders plays a role in it. Do you remember that at all?


    • Totally agree. (Although if people want to read 50 Shades, I’m not gonna stop them, just like I don’t want them to stop me from reading To Kill a Mockingbird.) Definitely. Completely agree. People are gonna do what they’re gonna do, though. (But that doesn’t mean you or I or anyone else has to go along with them.)

      YES ABSOLUTELY YES. It’s basically a pivotal moment – and now that I’ve read The Outsiders (and since Fangirl is such a Fall Book), I’m ready to read it again. It does have a lot of language and a few kissing scenes, so warning there. I’d rate it PG-13 for the language.

  2. The Giver was banned. And I was shocked to find out recently that several Roald Dahl books (that I’ve read and loved!) were banned and/or challenged. While I do wish there was a standard content rating system for books as there is for movies, I disagree with the idea of banning books. Freedom! It’s important, people!

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