Sunday, September 30, 2007

Banned Books Week, 2007

"books won't stay banned. They won't burn. Ideas won't go to jail. In the long run of history, the censor and the inquisitor have always lost. The only sure weapon against bad ideas is better ideas. The source of better ideas is wisdom. The surest path to wisdom is a liberal education."

-Alfred Whitney Griswold, Essays on Education

September 6 - October 6, 2007

I love to read, in fact, it was my first love in life. Even before my love of art, came my love of books. I think I inherited a passion for reading from my father. He had an impressive collection of books, some on travel, some autobiographies, he was a civil war buff, so he had many different books of historical reference, and he even had cookbooks, devoted to different regions of the United States. I don't remember a time when he wasn't reading one kind of publication or another, so now that I think about it, I am absolutely sure my love of reading came from my father.

When I was a little girl, around about the first grade or so, I hit a stumbling block in my ability to learn to read. I am not sure what it was, but thankfully, I was given an amazing teacher to help me through the struggle I was having. Mrs. "G". I think about her often, she was a a great lady. She made me feel good about myself, as she shared books with me that made me want to read. To her, nothing was off limits. While others were saying, "comic books will destroy your mind," Mrs. "G" was saying, "Good for you, you are reading." Between her help and encouragement, and my father's,
by the time I was in the 4th grade I was reading books, well above my grade level, and thoroughly enjoying them. I was reading Time magazine, the New Yorker, and our evening newspaper. I looked forward to writing book reports, because not only did I get to read a book, but I could pretend I was a book reviewer for the New York Times. LOL. I had quite an imagination, and I have my love of reading to thank for that imagination.

But how different would the world seem to me now, if for some reason I had to endure living in a society that banned such classics as "Alice in Wonderland," or "The Canterbury Tales," "Gone With The Wind," or "Little House On The Prairie." Those are just a few of the book titles that have been banned or challenged in the last hundred years or so. Its obscene. I have never understood why someone would attempt to keep me from a book, that they find personally offensive, when all they have to do is exercise their right not to read it. But there is a scared, bitter heart born every minute I suppose.

It's a disturbing thought that one day, one of those bitter hearts might just get their way, and we will have to read in shadows, or locked closets, or worse yet, be completely dictated to about what's acceptable and what isn't in literature. It's not that far fetched an idea that it could happen, in that we have seen the Constitution trampled on so blatantly in recent years. The best example of the road to hell being paved with good intentions, is found in the attempt to ban books. Here is a partial list of some of my favorite books, which have somehow ended up at one time or another, on a list of banned or challenged books...

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, by Roald Dahl
The Color Purple, by Alice Walker
The Complete Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm, by Jacob and Wilhelm K. Grimm
Canterbury Tales, by Geoffrey Chaucer
The Call of the Wild, by Jack London
The Bible
Anne Frank, The Diary of a Young Girl, By Anne Frank
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll
1984, by George Orwell
Gone With The Wind, by Margaret Mitchell
It, by Stephen King
James and the Giant Peach, by Roald Dahl
I know Why The Caged Bird Sings, Maya Angelou
The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, by C.S. Lewis
Little House on the Prairie, by Laura Ingalls Wilder
The Martian Chronicles, by Ray Bradbury
My Friend Flicka, by Mary O' Hara
The Odyssey, by Homer
The Stand, by Stephen King
Where's Waldo, by Martin Handford
To Kill A Mockingbird, by Harper Lee

It's been years since I read some of those titles, so maybe I will buy a copy of, oh say, Stephen King's, The Stand, this week and enjoy the fact that, at least for now, I can read whatever I want, when I want, just because I have the right to. The gift of reading should never be taken for granted, so let's hope we don't all wake up one day to find our right to knowledge has been taken away from us. Can you imagine a world without the escape of Horton Hears A Who, or say, The 9/11 Commission Report?

If you would like to read the full list of the most challenged or banned books of 2006, click on the link below. It will re-direct you to the website of the American Library Association. So tell me, what book are you reading this week?

American Library Association

"Life In Shadows"
Berkeley, California
September 29th, 2007


fdtate said...

Yes, it is obscene. The crazy woman in Norcross, Georgia, is still trying to get the school board to take Harry Potter books out of the school libraries.

Sadly, they don't have to ban or burn books. Fewer and fewer people are reading fewer and fewer books, and I'm guilty too. Too much of the time I used to devote to books has been taking up by this infernal computer.

Some fantastic books on the list. Who could object to The Martian Chronicles or To Kill a Mockingbird?

MyMaracas said...

I hear ya, Carly. I love reading and ideas too, and nothing infuriates me more than some fascist nut job trying ban a book. I'm reading, among other things,Dean Hamer's The God Gene, on the genetic basis of religious experience. I'm sure a number of folks would like this one off the shelves.

Monae D. said...

Hello Carly, I have been reading your blog and I have to say that you always share something that I like. I have to agree with you about books and reading them. Its a shame that there is a "BANNED BOOKS" week. Books should NEVER be banned. I happen to be a huge reader of all kinds of books and stories. I would like to thank you for sharing this entry.
At the moment I am reading a book that a friend of mine sent me in the mail called "The Tenth Circle" by a writer named Jodi Picoult. The book is very emotional but its very good. If you have a chance you should read it.
Once again thanks for sharing this and thank you for allowing me to visit your blog. Do take care and I will be back for another visit.

Suzanne R said...

I have loved to read since I was a child. As a teenager, I saw the movie "Fahrenheit 451," about the burning of books, and I became a very strong believer in the freedom to read what one wishes.

I seem to go through cycles as far as being in the mood to read. Last week, when you posted this entry, I was not reading the book I had started earlier, "Whitethorn Woods" by Maeve Binchy, but due to being invited to join Shelfari, I became interested in reading again. I finished the Binchy book last night and started "The Kite Runner" by Khaled Hosseini, a native of Afghan. I have the feeling that his book would be banned in the Middle East. I'm glad he is in the U.S., where he has the freedom to express himself eloquently -- which he has done -- and I have the freedom to enjoy his writing.

Suzanne R said...

Oops, Hosseini is a native of Afghanistan.

Karen Funk Blocher said...

Several of Madeleine L'Engle's books have been on banned books lists, including A Wrinkle in Time. I find it particularly heinous that some so-called Christians object to her books, which are steeped in Christianity, intellectual curiosity and a belief in love and trying to do what is right.