Banned Books Week

Barbara Vey -- September 27th, 2010

Banned Books Week runs September 25-October 2.  Celebrating it’s 29th year, the American Library Association received 460 challenges.  According to the ALA, “people challenge books that they say are too sexual or too violent. They object to profanity and slang, and they protest against offensive portrayals of racial or religious groups–or positive portrayals of homosexuals. Their targets range from books that explore contemporary issues and controversies to classic and beloved works of American literature.”

The Top Ten Most Frequently Challenged Books of 2009 (from the American Library Association’s (ALA) Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF):

  • ttyl,  ttfn, l8r, g8r (series), by Lauren Myracle
    Reasons: Drugs, Nudity, Offensive Language, Sexually Explicit, Unsuited to Age Group
  • “And Tango Makes Three, by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson
    Reasons: Homosexuality
  • “The Perks of Being A Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky
    Reasons: Anti-Family, Drugs, Homosexuality, Offensive Language, Religious Viewpoint, Sexually Explicit, Suicide, Unsuited to Age Group,
  • “To Kill A Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
    Reasons: Offensive Language, Racism, Unsuited to Age Group
  • Twilight (series) by Stephenie Meyer
    Reasons: Religious Viewpoint, Sexually Explicit, Unsuited to Age Group
  • “Catcher in the Rye,” by J.D. Salinger
    Reasons: Offensive Language, Sexually Explicit, Unsuited to Age Group
  • “My Sister’s Keeper, by Jodi Picoult
    Reasons: Drugs, Homosexuality, Offensive Language, Religious Viewpoint, Sexism, Sexually Explicit, Suicide, Unsuited to Age Group, Violence
  • “The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big, Round Things,” by Carolyn Mackler
    Reasons: Offensive Language, Sexually Explicit, Unsuited to Age Group
  • “The Color Purple, Alice Walker
    Reasons: Offensive Language, Sexually Explicit, Unsuited to Age Group
  • “The Chocolate War, by Robert Cormier
    Reasons: Nudity, Offensive Language, Sexually Explicit, Unsuited to Age Group

To Kill a Mockingbird is one of my favorite books and I never did like Catcher in the Rye (maybe because it was a must read in school).  As for Twilight, it’s almost impossible to find someone who hasn’t read it.

I guess the one thing that always gets to me is that most of the challenged books seem to come from people who have never even read them.  They just heard what they’re about and decided it wasn’t in line with their way of thinking, so no one else should have the opportunity to make up their own minds about it.  (Gosh, that sounds confusing.)

The kick-off for Banned Books Week was Saturday, in Chicago, where some of the challenged authors read from their books.  There are events scheduled all over the United States and online throughout the week.

Here in Milwaukee on Thursday, we’ve taken it a step further by including banned food and drink.  I’ve teamed up with Burp! Milwaukee Reads! and  Great Lakes Distillery to celebrate Banned Books Week with a deliciously literary evening! BANNED: Taboo Books, Bites & Libations From 5pm-9pm, Great Lakes Distillery will graciously open its doors for a fund raising event like no other, with all proceeds being donated to our local libraries. During the course of the evening, you’ll have the opportunity to enjoy: * Free distillery tours * Samples of Great Lakes Amerique 1912 Absinthe (the legendary “green fairy” * A variety of cocktails made with absinthe * Samples of delicious raw milk cheeses from the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board * (I won’t be there since I’ll be at the Emerald City Writers Conference.)

There’s even an author on Twitter begging to be banned.  Michael P. Spradlin asks, “Is there a form you fill out? A website? Do you have to delete your cookies b4 filling out the form banning your own book?” “Would it help if I created a why you should BAN MY BOOK guide on my website? Cause I’ll do it! I’ll bring donuts & pie!”  “My Youngest Templar bks feature a budding romance btween a Christian boy & Muslim girl! THIS CANNOT STAND! Who’s with me?”

Bottom Line: How do you plan to celebrate Banned Books Week?

Ok, the video is from last year, but it still applies.

O.

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