Saturday, September 25, 2010

On Books

So today is the beginning of Banned Books Week. Apparently the American Library Association supports the First Amendment by calling attention to books that are banned or challenged at libraries and schools around the country. I will have to find out if my local library is participating, and if not, encourage them to do so.

To the best of my knowledge I have never suggested that a book be banned. I've read a few that were stupid. I've read a few that are offensive in some ways. I've read many books that I wouldn't recommend to people who are extremely fastidious about what they read. I've read some absolutely fabulous books. And I have read a good portion of the books on the banned books list.

Some of the reasons that books are banned or challenged do make some sense. But some others don't make sense at all. I'm sorry, but the Harry Potter books do not promote Satanism, are not anti-family, and if you have ever tried any of the spells you know they don't work. What the Potter books do is get people to read them. My brother Mike, who doesn't read anything, not only read all 7 of the Potter books, he also read the entire Lord of the Rings series. You will never find me agreeing with anyone that these books should be banned.

R.L. Stine, author of the "Goosebumps" series, and other creepy books that I used to read in junior high and high school has been banned for being Satanic. Those books get kids to read. I don't care what the content is, other than step-by-step instructions for bomb making, anything that gets kids to read is good.

The Twilight Series has been challenged for being too sexy—the book promotes abstinence until marriage. The only reason I could think of to challenge Twilight is for the poor editing job.

The Kite Runner was challenged for sexual content and being age inappropriate. That book was written for adults. If adults can't handle reading a book that accurately depicts life in Afghanistan under the Taliban, including a traumatic rape of an 11-year-old boy, then they shouldn't be reading anything that's on the adult shelf, other than Christian lit.

Some of my favorite books were on the list, including The Fountainhead, Atlas Shrugged, Catcher in the Rye, Gone With the Wind, a Wrinkle in Time. A lot of books I had to read in school are on the list, including Of Mice and Men, Grapes of Wrath, As I Lay Dying, Fahrenheit 451. Why? I'm not sure, although language is often cited. The Grapes of Wrath was banned in California because of how it depicted migrant workers during the Great Depression.

In high school I had to get a signed note saying it was okay if I read Catcher in the Rye. It's got some swear words in it. Whoopie freaking do. It's a fantastic book and I feel it should be required reading.

My personal philosophy on books is that I can read whatever I want, my husband can read what he wants, and if my daughter wants to read something I am going to let her—unless it's the Kama Sutra. I do have my limits, after all.

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