Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Hello, Old Friends: Banned Books Week

The Color Purple
The Handmaid's Tale
The House of the Spirits
Go Ask Alice
A Wrinkle in Time

I read these books as a teen (and many others like them), not knowing that they had been challenged by parents and administrators in other schools. My parents might have known, since it was on their bookshelf that I found the first four. They were very much aware of what books had been banned. My step-mother even made it a point to buy banned books.

As aware as my parents made me on their own stance when it came to book banning, they never pushed it on my siblings and me. They knew my sister and I loved books (my brother was more of a comic reader, but hey, it's words, right?), and they let us read pretty much any book of their shelves. Some of which I got bored with and didn't finish (Bonfire of the Vanities? Try Yawnfire. Blerg.), but the first four on the list above were books from their shelves that stayed with me, that have shaped the way I think, the way I feel, and even the way I write.

Books aren't banned simply because they are subversive, or because they speak lies about the world. Good books should make you angry, repulse you, frighten you. Most importantly, they should make you feel empathy for others. Your reaction to the content, as you read it in context, of course, says more about you than it does about the author.

I added A Wrinkle in Time to the list because it had an even greater effect on my desire to write fantasy novels, which started out as a hobby when I was fifteen. And because it's one of those O_o ? bans I just don't understand.

Anyway, I didn't write this post to preach, only to say that if it weren't for the above "bad" books, I wouldn't be the person that I am today. A writer. A lover of beautiful words and haunting imagery. A sci-fi nerd. A feminist. A tolerant, curious person who wants to find out as much as she can about the world, particularly through the magic of books.

What are your favorites?


Krispy said...

I heart this post! Agreed and agreed.

Susan R. Mills said...

Totally agree with you. All of those books were fantastic. It's really hard to believe they were banned. Great post!

Alexandra Shostak said...

Feminist fist bump!

I didn't know that there was a such thing as banned books when I was a teenager. I just read all the books I could find and had my own personal thoughts. It wasn't until I heard of people banning Harry Potter because of "witchcraft" that I really started to pay attention.

I don't know if I have a favorite banned book...partially because getting a complete of all the books that have ever been banned anywhere is impossible.

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Love that list! Those are all great books that should be widely read. I applaud your parents and any adults who help kids explore ideas, other cultures, things outside the comfort zone. It's how we all grow.

Cynthia Lee said...

Great post!

I vividly remember reading A Wrinkle in Time.

I even remember where I was sitting when Mrs. Whatsit (I think that's who it was) shows the kids her true form. Because my very young mind thought that was about the coolest thing ever.

I just can't even talk about banned books because it makes my frickin' blood boil.

Tere Kirkland said...

Patti ( left this comment, which didn't post, for some reason:

I read Speak this summer and really loved it and for the life of me, I can't understand why it was banned.

Hannah Kincade said...

I love a Wrinkle in Time and reread it every few years. It takes me back to my childhood reading sessions. So many good memories.

Karen Denise said...

Yawnfire of the crack me up! My parents let me read what
I wanted, but I never tried to read anything above my age. If anything on that list was banned, I never knew. I love banned books. They make the best stories!

Mykuljay said...

Although not banned that I recall, To Kill a Mockingbird taught me as a young teen, many things of which I knew nothing.

Missed Periods said...

You just inspired me to check out a list of books that had been banned. They sure did ban all the good ones!