Ban This! September 27 - October 4, 2008

"Every burned book enlightens the world."
-- Ralph Waldo Emerson

This week is Banned Books Week. An unpublicized week (since we read most of them in high school and English 220 these days) to celebrate and do what you will with books which, at one point or another have been banned and burned from the public.

Keep in mind that (if you're in New York) most of these books are not banned anymore. But in other parts of the country, high school students still need parental permission to read
The Giver. I mean, really?

The following list is a compilation from ALA and The Forbidden Library.

The red highlighted titles are books different members of OTR have read.

  1. The Bible
  2. Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
  3. Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes
  4. The Koran
  5. Arabian Nights
  6. Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
  7. Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift
  8. Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer
  9. Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
  10. Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman
  11. Prince by Niccolò Machiavelli
  12. Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe
  13. Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
  14. Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
  15. Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
  16. Les Misérables by Victor Hugo
  17. Dracula by Bram Stoker
  18. Autobiography by Benjamin Franklin
  19. Tom Jones by Henry Fielding
  20. Essays by Michel de Montaigne
  21. Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
  22. History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Edward Gibbon
  23. Tess of the D'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy
  24. Origin of Species by Charles Darwin
  25. Ulysses by James Joyce
  26. Decameron by Giovanni Boccaccio
  27. Animal Farm by George Orwell
  28. Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell
  29. Candide by Voltaire
  30. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  31. Analects by Confucius
  32. Dubliners by James Joyce
  33. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
  34. Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway
  35. Red and the Black by Stendhal
  36. Capital by Karl Marx
  37. Flowers of Evil by Charles Baudelaire
  38. Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
  39. Lady Chatterley's Lover by D. H. Lawrence
  40. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
  41. Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser
  42. Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
  43. Jungle by Upton Sinclair
  44. All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque
  45. Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx
  46. Lord of the Flies by William Golding
  47. Diary by Samuel Pepys
  48. Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
  49. Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy
  50. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
  51. Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak
  52. Critique of Pure Reason by Immanuel Kant
  53. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey
  54. Praise of Folly by Desiderius Erasmus
  55. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
  56. Autobiography of Malcolm X by Malcolm X
  57. Color Purple by Alice Walker
  58. Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger
  59. Essay Concerning Human Understanding by John Locke
  60. Bluest Eyes by Toni Morrison
  61. Moll Flanders by Daniel Defoe
  62. One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
  63. East of Eden by John Steinbeck
  64. Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
  65. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
  66. Confessions by Jean Jacques Rousseau
  67. Gargantua and Pantagruel by François Rabelais
  68. Leviathan by Thomas Hobbes
  69. The Talmud
  70. Social Contract by Jean Jacques Rousseau
  71. Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
  72. Women in Love by D. H. Lawrence
  73. American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser
  74. Mein Kampf by Adolf Hitler
  75. A Separate Peace by John Knowles
  76. Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
  77. Red Pony by John Steinbeck
  78. Popol Vuh
  79. Affluent Society by John Kenneth Galbraith
  80. Satyricon by Petronius
  81. James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
  82. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
  83. Black Boy by Richard Wright
  84. Spirit of the Laws by Charles de Secondat Baron de Montesquieu
  85. Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut
  86. Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George
  87. Metaphysics by Aristotle
  88. Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder
  89. Institutes of the Christian Religion by Jean Calvin
  90. Steppenwolf by Hermann Hesse
  91. Power and the Glory by Graham Greene
  92. Sanctuary by William Faulkner
  93. As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
  94. Black Like Me by John Howard Griffin
  95. Sylvester and the Magic Pebble by William Steig
  96. Sorrows of Young Werther by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
  97. General Introduction to Psychoanalysis by Sigmund Freud
  98. Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
  99. Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Alexander Brown
  100. Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
  101. Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman by Ernest J. Gaines
  102. Émile by Jean Jacques Rousseau
  103. Nana by Émile Zola
  104. Chocolate War by Robert Cormier
  105. Go Tell It on the Mountain by James Baldwin
  106. Gulag Archipelago by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
  107. Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert A. Heinlein
  108. Day No Pigs Would Die by Robert Peck
  109. Ox-Bow Incident by Walter Van Tilburg Clark
  110. Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes
  111. Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling
  112. Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret? by Judy Blume
  113. The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman
  114. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  115. The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
  116. Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
  117. Cat's Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut
  118. Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie
  119. Tropic of Cancer by Henry Miller
  120. The Naked and the Dead by Norman Mailer
  121. Captain Underpants by Dav Pilkey
  122. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
  123. Forever by Judy Blume
  124. Around the World in a Hundred Years: Jean Fritz
  125. Blubber by Judy Blume
  126. Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut
  127. Charlotte's Web by E.B. White
  128. The Giver by Lois Lowry
  129. Maggie, Girl of the Streets by Stephen Crane
  130. Skin Deep by Isaac Asimov
  131. My Brother Sam Is Dead by James Lincoln Collier
  132. Meeting the Mugger by Norma Fox Mazer
I'm pretty sure this list can go on forever. I just fail to understand the reasoning behind these kinds of people:

Whoa, whoa, whoa? According to this highly educated and fit Priestess, I now have a reason to find Daniel Radcliffe and be the the wizard to his Hogwarts.


I don't think I've ever questioned the scandal ratings of a book. Maybe it is because I'm exceptionally liberal, and happen to like reading about the gritty parts of human nature. This does not mean that I doubt the power of literature. I don't read books so that they can tell me what to think. I read books so I can learn to think to myself. Its like word-food.

I mean, yes, there are always lunatics all over the world who are afraid of a little freedom of thought and speech. The Nazis burned tons of books, including The Sun Also Rises, because I'm guessing they had a problem with impotent men. A school in Kentucky banned Le Morte d'Arthur because it was odd and pervy and not written in American, I guess. Darn those Middle English writers and the funny way they spell everything with an extra E and Y!

My favorite example of a banned author who changed my life is Judy Blume. Judy Blume has written children's books about menstruation, masturbation, divorce, racism, and sex since 1970. Most parents I know break out in hives before they sit down and talk about "the dirty" with their teenagers. By that time it is too late, and their young daughter has gotten felt up by half the school and maybe her gym coach because no one ever talked to her about the weird feelings she was developing. You would think that instead of a boring pamphlet from some clinic, most parents would enjoy having a wonderful novel do the job that they're too afraid and awkward to do themselves.

When I was in elementary school, this girl I knew had this book for "young readers" on hygiene and the human body. It had pictures of how the body changes, and during slumber parties we would point and "ew" and "gross" and "wow, that's what a boy's thing looks like" along with all the other girls. She learned about menstruation from a textbook because her mother was too embarrassed to have the "talk." And while the textbook was informative, it was impersonal and cold, and what prepubescent girl wants to learn the real facts from a non-fiction book published in the 60s?

But then there is a book like Lolita. Who wants to read about a pedophile and the little girl he's after? I guess I have no answer except, I do. Because I know it is "literature." And I know that the only feeling I'm left with after reading it is not a need to pray on school girls, but the longing and ache throughout this sick, sick story. It is uncomfortable but, but literature is not about making the reader comfortable. Edgar Allen Poe wanted to make his society squirm and feel disgusted with themselves because he knew that deep in their hearts they were all as filthy beasties. That's no reason to burn, baby burn.

So, in support of all the poor, poor books that have been burned throughout the ages, be good bibliophilicbookworms and read something you never thought you would have.