Happy Banned Books Week! Banned books have always interested me – I don’t like being told what to do and I never understood why anyone would ever ban someone from reading a book. I feel that we should all be able to make our own decisions about what we read – if I choose to avoid a certain book, that decision should be mine alone. I am very lucky and I have always read whatever I wanted to read, whenever I wanted to read it. But I do remember being told not to read certain books (of course I read them anyway). So here are some of my favorite banned / controversial books that I have read, in no particular order:
5. The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling
Yep, I just couldn’t resist throwing Harry Potter into yet another Top 5 Wednesday post. I was totally encouraged to read Harry Potter as a kid, but I know there was a lot of controversy over this series and there were a lot of people who wanted their children to stay away from it because of the witchcraft that the story is centered around. Personally, I don’t understand how Harry Potter could be seen as anything other than completely wonderful, but I am slightly biased. To each his own, I guess.
4. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
I was assigned this book a couple times in school, so obviously my teachers had no problems with the message it sends. But I can totally see how this book ruffles people’s’ feathers. It is a social commentary that really doesn’t pull any punches. It gets its message across in a rather bleak way. Also, there is a decent amount of sexual content in this one, so I can understand why it wouldn’t be recommended for school children of a certain age. But banned? That I don’t understand. This book presents some really harsh truths that are hard to swallow, but I think that gives us all the more reason to read it.
3. Animal Farm by George Orwell
Yet another social commentary that really puts it all out there and shoves what is wrong with society right in the reader’s face. I think two of my favorite quotes from Animal Farm can pretty much sum this up: “Man is the only creature that consumes without producing” and, “ALL ANIMALS ARE EQUAL BUT SOME ANIMALS ARE MORE EQUAL THAN OTHERS.” Those are pretty harsh criticisms of our society that are still relevant even today. And they are still just as hard to read and accept, but that doesn’t mean we should hide from them.
2. The Giver by Lois Lowry
I know tons of people were assigned to read this in school as children. I was never assigned this book and that got me thinking – was it not on my assigned reading list because my school thought it was inappropriate? Was I subjected to censorship without even knowing it? I guess I will never know, but what I do know is that this book is fantastic and I will always recommend it.
1. The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown
My experience with The Da Vinci Code is the first and only time I remember being directly told not to read a book. I attended Catholic school my whole life and when The Da Vinci Code was released, I distinctly remember being told not to read it. I even remember one Mass where the entire Homily (the part where the priest is supposed to discuss what was just read in the Gospel) was about how we should all boycott reading this book. I remember thinking “Why is everyone so afraid of this book? It’s just a work of fiction…how can it be so threatening?”
Please don’t take anything that I am saying as an attack or criticism on any religion or institution. I am just recounting my memories of what actually happened to me and discussing my experiences with banned books. Please respect that this is just my opinion and my experience. Personally, I think that when the topic of a book makes us uncomfortable, that gives us all the more reason to read it.
Banned Books Week runs from September 27 through October 3 this year. Go celebrate by picking up a banned book or two! What banned books have you read and loved?
When you love to read controversial books…..
…..blame it on the books.