I am proud to say that I have read my fair share of Banned Books. In fact, the best books I’ve ever read are either banned or challenged. These are the books which dared to ask the questions nobody wanted to hear. They broke free of the norm and expanded the narrow school of thoughts we used to subscribe to. These books dared to change the world, and in attempting alone, they already did.
Just recently, another book was put in danger of being banned. I am talking about Rainbow Rowell’s YA Contemporary Romance novel, Eleanor and Park. A few parents from the state of Minnesota, USA lobbied against the decision of the librarians from the Anoka-Hennepin School District to make E&P their official summer read and convinced the school district, county board, and the library board to cancel the author’s book related events. They even went as far as calling the book ‘dangerously obscene’, demanding that the book be taken down from the library shelves and the librarians be punished for selecting the book as the district’s official summer read. (*source)
I personally wouldn’t know what possesses people to think that they have the authority to decide what the public can or cannot read. I would understand if a parent doesn’t want their child/ren to read a certain book with respect to factors such as appropriateness due to age, or if it could trigger some sort of emotional trauma. Those premises are very much acceptable. But to deprive the whole community of something based on nothing but misconstrued opinions… I don’t think that’s appropriate at all.
I have Eleanor & Park sitting on my shelf, looking at me with accusatory book eyes because I haven’t read it yet. I’ve had mixed signals coming from my reviewer friends about it, but good or bad I would personally like to be able to form my own opinions of the book to see whether or not it appeals to me. I would like to have the power to decide whether or not I’m going to read it. To stop me from accessing it because you don’t think it would fit me is like insulting my ability to think for myself, and I will not have it.
Banned Books Week are for books like Eleanor and Park; books that dare to tell us stories we don’t often hear. Books that delve deep into the delightfully dark trenches of human nature with the intention of showing us what could be found there: the wonders and the horrors and everything in between. This week is such an important one not only to bookish folk like myself, but also to countless others who may not even know what this week stands for and how significant it is to learning as a whole. Banned Books Week is our way of saying that we will remain relentless in fighting censorship no matter what form or name it takes, and that we will ensure that the gift that the greatest of human minds bestowed upon us will be accessible to the current and future generations.
With that said, I would like to share to all you five of my most favorite banned books and three that I am about to read and review in the coming days.
Tara’s Top Five Banned/Challenged Books:
1. Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s Stone by JK Rowling
2. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
3. The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
4. The Perks of being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
5. A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
Tara’s Three Banned Books Assignment for the remainder of Banned Books Week:
1. Lord of the Flies by William Golding
2. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
3. The Giver by Lois Lowry
It is definitely true what they say, that people are scared of things that they don’t understand. But to push them away, avoid them, and pretend they do not exist will solve nothing and benefit no one. Books are uniquely portable magic, as what Stephen King said. It can build worlds and destroy them, it can mend and break hearts, it can change the world, one reader at a time.
Let books flourish along with human consciousness. Let them thrive together uninterrupted. I highly doubt that Eleanor and Park will be the last book to be challenged this year and in the years to come, but as we celebrate this Banned Books Week, let it be known that we will not let anyone dictate the books that we read. We will insist on our right to discern for ourselves what we can and cannot consume.
I may disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.
– Evelyn Beatrice Hall