Happy Sunday, bookpups! I know I’m a teensy bit late but I wanted to take a moment tonight to talk about banned books. Every year, September 27-October 3 is known as Banned Books Week, celebrating our freedom to read. Because I’m a bit late to the party, I’m making a TBR of banned books to read before next year’s celebration week comes around.
QOTD: What’s your favorite banned book?
I’ve read far fewer banned books than I’d like to admit, but if I had to pick a favorite off this list, I’d say Brave New World by Aldous Huxley. I read this dystopian novel in high school (thankfully, it wasn’t banned in my school) and it was what initially sparked my love of the dystopian genre. After reading Brave New World, I eagerly devoured any dystopian/apocalyptic fiction I could get my hands on.
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What was the last book that really made an impression on you? And I mean blew your mind and completely changed your entire world-view. Now imagine someone telling you that you couldn’t read or even share that book because a certain person/group of people believed it wasn’t good.
That’s what banned books are. They’re books that someone (or a group of people) doesn’t think others should be reading because of their content. But that’s not a very fair decision for anyone to make, is it? While I don’t believe that all books are suitable for all people (triggers, age, religious/political views), banning books is only showing that we’re afraid of things we don’t like or understand. It shows our ignorance.
Is a book suitable for younger adults or middle school children? If the answer is no, it’s the parent’s job to help educate their children in what they should or shouldn’t be reading. As parents, we can help guide our children so that they’re reading books that are appropriate for their age levels. At the same time, libraries and schools can keep books separated by age groups. Warnings and labels help readers to know which books are and aren’t appropriate for them. For example, a person who has been through a traumatic event probably shouldn’t read books that contain these types of triggers. However, banning them from libraries and other public places isn’t the way to solve this. Censorship is not the future … it’s the past. Reading and supporting banned books shows the world that we need our freedom to read.
My 2020 Banned Books TBR
👉Note #1: I will be adding links to my reviews as soon as I read each book. All banned book reasonings are taken from Wikipedia’s List of Most Commonly Challenged Books in the United States.
1984 by George Orwell – pro-communist and explicit sexual matter, violence
The Adventures of Super Diaper Baby by Dav Pilkey – encouraging poor spelling
Angus, Thongs & Full-Frontal Snogging by Louise Rennison – crude language, sexual content, LGBT content
Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume – content dealing with menstrual cycles & feminine hygiene
Bone series by Jeff Smith – references smoking, drinking, and gambling
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley – (re-read) anti-religion, anti-family, sexual content
Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson – (re-read) promotes secular humanism, New Age religion, occultism, and Satanism
Captain Underpants series by Dav Pilkey – offensive language, unsuited for age group, violence
Carrie by Stephen King – violence, anti-religious themes, sexual themes
Christine by Stephen King – obscene language, sexual themes
Drama by Raina Telgemeier – LGBT content and against “family values/morals” (source)
Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell – offensive language
The Face on the Milk Carton by Caroline B. Cooney – sexual content, challenging authority, unsuitable for age group
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury – obscene language, references to smoking/drinking, violence, religious themes
A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway – (re-read) sexual content
Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James – (re-read) sexually explicit, unsuited to age group, poorly written
The Giver by Lois Lowry – obscene language, sexual content, violence, unsuitable to age group
Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell – racial slurs & portrayal of slavery
Goosebumps series by R.L. Stine – supernatural themes, violence, encouraging disobedience
Gossip Girl series by Cecily von Ziegesar – drugs, offensive language, sexually explicit
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald – language & sexual references
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood – sexuality, profanity, suicide, violence, anti-Christian themes
👉Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling – witchcraft, anti-family, setting bad examples
The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins – religious viewpoint, dark themes/violence, unsuited to age group
James & the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl – supernatural themes and references to drug use
Junie B. Jones by Barbara Park – encouraging disobedience
👉Note #2: While I plan to read the Harry Potter series to show that I challenge the banning of ANY books, I do not support J.K. Rowling’s actions, words, or behaviors toward any groups of people. I am reading these books purely because they are on the banned books list.
The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini – offensive language, unsuited to age group, violence
Looking for Alaska by John Greene – offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group
The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold – religious themes
My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult – homosexuality, language, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit, violence
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky – drugs/alcohol/smoking, homosexuality, unsuited for age group
Saga series by Brian K. Vaughan – anti-family, nudity, offensive language, sexually explicit, not suitable for age group
Skippyjon Jones series by Judy Schachner – depicting stereotypes of Mexican culture
A Time to Kill by John Grisham – references to slavery, rape, and racial slurs in the text
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee – (re-read) offensive language, racism, unsuited to age group
Twilight series by Stephenie Meyer – (re-read) religious viewpoint, violence, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group
👉The Witches by Roald Dahl -misogyny, encouraging disobedience, violence, animal cruelty, obscene language, supernatural themes
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle – supernatural themes and religious themes
👉Note #3: I will be reading this in its original format, as well as checking out the new graphic novel!
While this is a fairly long list, it’s also only scratching the surface. The books on my TBR are Banned books. There are many more each year that are “challenged” by libraries, religious organizations, schools, and more. If you have any Banned or Challenged books you’d like to recommend, feel free to leave them in the comments or send us a DM on Bookstagram! To see a full list of the books that were challenged in 2019, visit the ALA website.
What banned books are on your TBR?