September 27, 2010

There must be something in books, things we can't imagine ...

" ... to make a woman stay in a burning house; there must be something there. You don't stay for nothing."—Guy Montag, Fahrenheit 451

Today's post is a bit of a departure from last weeks', which were mainly devoted to a celebration of the "evil box" that is the TV. But I don't think books and TV are mutually exclusive forms of entertainment. Both can introduce new worlds, expand the imagination and make you think.

Saturday marked the beginning of Banned Books Week 2010. The week-long national celebration of the freedom to read was launched in 1982 in response to an increase in the number of challenged books.


According to the American Library Association:
Intellectual freedom—the freedom to access information and express ideas, even if the information and ideas might be considered unorthodox or unpopular—provides the foundation for Banned Books Week(BBW). BBW stresses the importance of ensuring the availability of unorthodox or unpopular viewpoints for all who wish to read and access them.

The books featured during BBW have been targets of attempted bannings. Fortunately, while some books were banned or restricted, in a majority of cases the books were not banned, all thanks to the efforts of librarians, teachers, booksellers, and members of the community to retain the books in the library collections.
A giant thank you to all those people who work so diligently to keep books accessible.

Below are lists of the top 10 banned books from 2009, and the 46 banned or challenged books on the Radcliffe Publishing Course Top 100 Novels of the 20th Century. I've bolded the ones I've read.

2009's Top 10 Banned Books:

1. TTYL; TTFN; L8R, G8R (series) by Lauren Myracle
2. And Tango Makes Three by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson

3. The Perks of Being A Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
4. To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee
5. Twilight (series) by Stephenie Meyer
6. Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
7. My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult
8. The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big, Round Things by Carolyn Mackler
9. The Color Purple Alice Walker
10. The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier

The Radcliffe Publishing Course Top Novels of the 20th Century:

1. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
2. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
3. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
4. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
5. The Color Purple by Alice Walker
6. Ulysses by James Joyce
7. Beloved by Toni Morrison
8. The Lord of the Flies by William Golding
9. 1984 by George Orwell
11. Lolita by Vladmir Nabokov
12. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
15. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
16. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
17. Animal Farm by George Orwell
18. The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
19. As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
20. A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway
23. Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
24. Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
25. Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison
26. Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
27. Native Son by Richard Wright
28. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey
29. Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
30. For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway
33. The Call of the Wild by Jack London
36. Go Tell it on the Mountain by James Baldwin
38. All the King's Men by Robert Penn Warren
40. The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien
45. The Jungle by Upton Sinclair
48. Lady Chatterley's Lover by D. H. Lawrence
49. A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
50. The Awakening by Kate Chopin
53. In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
55. The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie
57. Sophie's Choice by William Styron
64. Sons and Lovers by D. H. Lawrence
66. Cat's Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut
67. A Separate Peace by John Knowles
73. Naked Lunch by William S. Burroughs
74. Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh
75. Women in Love by D. H. Lawrence
80. The Naked and the Dead by Norman Mailer
84. Tropic of Cancer by Henry Miller
88. An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser
97. Rabbit, Run by John Updike

Some of my most favorite books are on these lists, and I'm going to make an attempt to bold even more. Have you read any of these?

For fun, a little proof that I do, in fact, read:
(This isn't our entire collection, either. And the Eclipse decorations were only for the premiere party, I promise.)


  1. TV and books don't have to be mutually exclusive this is true. In fact, I've become somewhat fascinated by the concept of Transmedia storytelling even though the process of actively following it exhausts me.

  2. I did not know the chocolate war was banned. I read that while I was in school. And Ulysses was also banned? Wow.

  3. DT-I don't think I know Transmedia storytelling. I'll have to do some research. :)

    H-Ulysses is crazy, so I'm not surprised it's banned. But some of the others, for sure. (Twilight was challenged in some places because it's sexually explicit. Really?)

  4. god, half the books i've read on that list, i read in high school english class! banned books boggle my MIND!

  5. Samar-Yeah, same here. I think most "bannings" are in relation to school-aged kids, which is why these often appear on reading lists. But it's crazy, regardless.