Banned books week


in Books and literature, Politics, Rants

The last week of September was Banned Books Week. This blog managed to miss it, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t some interesting news coverage to link. This blog has a piece on why the week matters. Philip Pullman also has an article on it in The Guardian.

Google also has a page listing books that have been banned at various places and times. To those with a bit of spare time, I recommend reading a couple. It is an excellent way to celebrate the fact of living in a society with a limited capacity to suppress thought.

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Litty October 2, 2008 at 6:33 pm

I am curious which frequently banned books readers here would most recommend.

Woodsy October 2, 2008 at 9:41 pm

I am ashamed to say that I have only read 17 of the 42 on the banned list. I will consider the rest of the 42 as my next must reads. By the way, I still want to borrow that book from you.

Anonymous October 2, 2008 at 10:54 pm

A person might wonder whether even a phrase like, say, ‘a sibilant intake of breath’ could have been drawn from a frequently censored book…

. October 3, 2008 at 10:46 am

Library celebrates Banned Books Week with window-display featuring volunteers reading banned works

“We’ve created a ‘live’ Banned Book Display at our library [Twin Hickory Public Library, Glen Allen, VA]. We have volunteer readers who sit in the display and read (silently) banned and challenged books. So far it’s gotten a lot of attention – we hear a lot of ‘Mom, what are those people doing in there?’ The best part has been hearing parents explain to their kids what the display is all about which is exactly what we wanted to happen!” Twin Hickory Public Library, Glen Allen, VA

Milan October 3, 2008 at 11:32 am


My apologies, but I cannot recall which book I offered to lend you. Was it one of Michael Pollan’s?

Milan October 3, 2008 at 11:33 am


My apologies, but I cannot recall which book I offered to lend you. Was it one of Michael Pollan’s?

Milan October 3, 2008 at 11:38 am

From Google’s list, I have read:

The Great Gatsby
Catcher in the Rye
The Lord of the Flies
The Color Purple
Of Mice and Men
Brave New World
Heart of Darkness
Slaughterhouse Five
Lady Chatterley’s Lover

And am in the process of reading the Satanic Verses.

The Americal Library Association (ALA) has several other lists of banned and challenged books. Many of them include two of my favourite books: Philip Pullman’s The Golden Compass and Nabokov’s Lolita.

“Between 1990 and 2000, of the 6,364 challenges reported to or recorded by the Office for Intellectual Freedom (see The 100 Most Frequently Challenged Books):

* 1,607 were challenges to “sexually explicit” material (up 161 since 1999);
* 1,427 to material considered to use “offensive language”; (up 165 since 1999)
* 1,256 to material considered “unsuited to age group”; (up 89 since 1999)
* 842 to material with an “occult theme or promoting the occult or Satanism,”; (up 69 since 1999)
* 737 to material considered to be “violent”; (up 107 since 1999)
* 515 to material with a homosexual theme or “promoting homosexuality,” (up 18 since 1999) and
* 419 to material “promoting a religious viewpoint.” (up 22 since 1999)

Other reasons for challenges included “nudity” (317 challenges, up 20 since 1999), “racism” (267 challenges, up 22 since 1999), “sex education” (224 challenges, up 7 since 1999), and “anti-family” (202 challenges, up 9 since 1999).”

Kerrie October 3, 2008 at 4:40 pm

Catcher in the Rye
Lord of the Flies
Grapes of Wrath
The Color Purple
Of Mice and Men
Brave New World
Heart of Darkness
Gone With The Wind
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
Slaughterhouse Five (I’ve also read Vonnegut’s heartfelt, “I’m a veteran and a father of five. Stop calling me a moral cancer on society” letter to someone who tried to have S5 banned).
Invisible Man
Sons and Lovers (which sucked, but that doesn’t mean it should be banned).
Cat’s Cradle

Yeah, it’s unbelievable. Has anyone heard anything new about that lesbian bookstore in Vancouver and their censorship problems?

. January 25, 2010 at 3:37 pm

Dictionaries have been removed from classrooms in southern California schools after a parent complained about a child reading the definition for “oral sex”.

Merriam Webster’s 10th edition, which has been used for the past few years in fourth and fifth grade classrooms (for children aged nine to 10) in Menifee Union school district, has been pulled from shelves over fears that the “sexually graphic” entry is “just not age appropriate”, according to the area’s local paper.

The dictionary’s online definition of the term is “oral stimulation of the genitals”. “It’s hard to sit and read the dictionary, but we’ll be looking to find other things of a graphic nature,” district spokeswoman Betti Cadmus told the paper.”

. March 30, 2010 at 9:40 am

Philip Pullman on censorship and free speech — pithy and wonderful

Philip Pullman, addressing an audience at the Sheldonian Theatre in Oxford, was asked about whether his latest book, The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ, was offensive. Here’s his reply:

“It was a shocking thing to say and I knew it was a shocking thing to say. But no one has the right to live without being shocked. No one has the right to spend their life without being offended. Nobody has to read this book. Nobody has to pick it up. Nobody has to open it. And if you open it and read it, you don’t have to like it. And if you read it and you dislike it, you don’t have to remain silent about it. You can write to me, you can complain about it, you can write to the publisher, you can write to the papers, you can write your own book. You can do all those things, but there your rights stop. No one has the right to stop me writing this book. No one hasthe right to stop it being published, or bought, or sold or read. That’s all I have to say on that subject.”

Anon April 16, 2016 at 9:03 pm

That Google list has been up for 8+ years.

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