Monday, February 26, 2007

LIST: I Love the Smell of Burned Books in the Morning

It's Freedom to Read Week! Are you as excited as I am?

To kick things off, I think a list is in order. And so I've compiled a list of banned/challenged books that I've read in the past thirty-odd years, despite the fact that very few of them contain the word "scrotum." By some strange coincidence, most of these books are quite good and eminently recommendable. I read a great number of them as a young whippersnapper, and I should also mention (cover your children's ears) that I got most of these from various public and school libraries.
Andrews, V.C. - Flowers in the Attic
Anonymous - Go Ask Alice
Atwood, Margaret - The Handmaid's Tale
Auel, Jean M. - Clan of the Cave Bear
Blume, Judy - Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret
Blume, Judy - Blubber
Blume, Judy - Tiger Eyes
Blume, Judy - Then Again, Maybe I Won't
Blume, Judy - Deenie
Brothers Grimm - The Complete Grimm's Fairy Tales
Burgess, Anthony - A Clockwork Orange
Carroll, Lewis - Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
Carroll, Lewis - Through the Looking-Glass
Chaucer, Geoffrey - Canterbury Tales
Conrad, Joseph - Heart of Darkness
Dahl, Roald - Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Dahl, Roald - James and the Giant Peach
Defoe, Daniel - Moll Flanders
Eliot, George - Silas Marner
Findley, Timothy - The Wars
Fitzgerald, F. Scott - The Great Gatsby
Flaubert, Gustave - Madame Bovary
Frank, Anne - Diary of Anne Frank
Gabriel Garcia Marquez - Love in the Time of Cholera
Gabriel Garcia Marquez - One Hundred Years of Solitude
Golding, William - Lord of the Flies
Haddon, Mark - The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time
Handford, Martin - Where's Waldo?
Hawthorne, Nathaniel - The Scarlet Letter
Hemingway, Ernest - The Sun Also Rises
Hinton, S.E. - The Outsiders
Hinston, S.E. - That Was Then, This Is Now
Huxley, Aldous - Brave New World
Irving, John - A Prayer for Owen Meany
Kesey, Ken - One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
Keyes, Daniel - Flowers for Algernon
King, Stephen - It
King, Stephen - Different Seasons
King, Stephen - The Shining
King, Stephen - Pet Sematary
King, Stephen - The Talisman
King, Stephen - Carrie
King, Stephen - Cujo
King, Stephen - Dead Zone
Lawrence, Margaret - Diviners
Lawrence, Margaret - Stone Angel
Lee, Harper - To Kill a Mockingbird
L'Engle, Madeleine - A Wrinkle in Time
Lewis, C. S. - Chronicles of Narnia
London, Jack - The Call of the Wild
Lowry, Lois - The Giver
Lowry, Lois - Anastasia Krupnik
Mitchell, W.O. - Who Has Seen The Wind
Morrison, Toni - The Bluest Eye
Morrison, Toni - Song of Solomon
Munro, Alice - Lives of Girls and Women
Nabokov, Vladimir - Lolita
Oates, Joyce Carol - Foxfire
Orwell, George - 1984
Orwell, George - Animal Farm
Paterson, Katherine - The Great Gilly Hopkins
Preston, Richard - The Hot Zone
Proulx, Annie - Brokeback Mountain
Rockwell, Thomas - How to Eat Fried Worms
Rowling, J.K. - Harry Potter (the series)
Salinger, J.D. - Catcher in the Rye
Sebold, Alice - The Lovely Bones
Sewell, Anna - Black Beauty
Shakespeare, William - Romeo and Juliet
Shakespeare, William - Hamlet
Shelley, Mary - Frankenstein
Snicket, Lemony - A Series of Unfortunate Events
Steinbeck, John - Of Mice and Men
Steinbeck, John - East of Eden
Stine, R.L. - Goosebumps (the series)
Tolstoy, Leo - Anna Karenina
Various authors - The Bible
Voltaire - Candide
Vonnegut, Kurt - Cat's Cradle
Vonnegut, Kurt - Slaughterhouse-Five
Wilder, Laura Ingalls - On the Banks of Plum Creek
I know. You're wondering the same thing as me: only ONE book by that unprincipled slut Laura Ingalls Wilder? What ever happened to decency and community standards?

Reading all these titles sure takes me back to my impressionable youth. I'd spend my summer holidays eating fried worms, which would turn me into a malevolent clown who conducted experiments on super-intelligent mice, which I'd whisk up north via my giant flying peach in order to force them to pull sleds in Alaska. And if the team got a little ornery and Curly ended up shredded to bits by the other mice, no matter. I'd just bury him in a secret Indian burial ground (you were allowed to say Indian back then) and he'd come back to life. Sure, he'd be a bit more, well, evil than he was before, but that's okay. He made an excellent pet -- er, I mean companion animal -- for the monster I created in my lab out of the corpses of dead criminals.

And then there was that time I fell through a rabbit hole and became a 17th-century whore, but that's a story for another day.*

Man, remember summer vacations? You always managed to get so much stuff done in a day.

If you want to see how much you've inadevertantly poisoned your mind over the years, check here and here (both are PDF files) and here for some solid lists of banned books, the first two of which are provided by the awesome folks at the Pelham Public Library. And while you're at it, check out the library's excellent anti-censorship blog, aptly titled Fahrenheit 451. And while you're THERE, why not sign up for their Banned Book Challenge? You create your own challenge by setting a goal for yourself to read as many banned or challenged books as you wish between February 26 and June 30, 2007. As soon as I wrap things up here, I'm heading over there to sign up.

*Note that I refrained from making any kind of crack about being locked up in the attic and having sex with my brother. Because that's INAPPROPRIATE.


Anonymous said...

Seriously? What on earth could be so scandalous in On the Banks of Plum Creek that would cause it to be banned? Please, please tell me!

Anonymous said...

I remember the summer when I was slipped some acid at a party and I became a raging addict and left my family to live on the streets in San Francisco to do drugs and have sex while I was high. Eventually I came back to my family but we all know doing drugs can never be forgiven and so, in the end, I was killed by my enemies.

That summer SUCKED.

Anonymous said...

The Diary of Anne Frank? Are you serious? That's the craziest damned thing I've ever heard. WTF.

Britt said...

I have been shocked out of my silence by this list. Generally I am baffled by the myriad books people think society needs to be protected from, but... Where's Waldo? Seriously? No, seriously? Did this author write multiple books by this title, one innocent and one subtly (or overtly, whatever) nefarious? It's hard to believe that through all those hours of searching for that goofy, little Waldo my soul was being stripped of its purity.

Sweetie Darling said...

For me, the really embarrassing thing is how many of these banned books I was supposed to read for a class but didn't. I went through the list thinking, "Yeah, I read that! No, wait, I read the cliff notes."

My karma will come back to haunt me when my own children waste hundreds of thousands of dollars on college tuition.

PS - Dopp, a BIG belated thank you for my book! I was thrilled to get "Moo" - I read it a long time ago (no, actually read it) and put it back on my list in anticipation of Jane Smiley's new book. So yay for you!

fahrenheit451moderator said...

On the Banks of Plum Creek was challenged for its depiction of Native Americans. Can we talk context here and keep a little perspective?

The Diary of Anne Frank (and somewhere in one of the lists on our page, you can find the exact quotation) was challenged for being a real downer.

Where's Waldo should be banned for having an annoying little man in stripes in it but was challenged because there is a topless cartoon woman in it.

Anonymous said...

Come on, people. We had to stop Judy Blume somehow! There's only so much angsty drivel about tampons a girl can take.

Anonymous said...

Hrm. I've read thirty-one from your list, but all in the last ten years.

Have you read the whole Bible? Does it count if you've only read bits of it?

Anonymous said...

Wow, I can't believe I came up with 84 from those lists. (Assuming you can count the Chronicles of Narnia and Harry Potter separately.) My parents would be so proud!

Do I have to count books that I didn't want to read, but had to? Because I wanted to burn my copy of A Separate Peace when I was in high school, but for entirely different reasons than these people would probably suggest. I guess I should just be grateful I was in a school district where a significant number of these books were required reading at some point rather than literary contraband.

What I really want to know now is who the hell decided to ban Jacob Have I Loved. I mean, I guess I can understand the Judy Blume books in a twisted way (especially Deenie) but that one just seems such an odd choice to me.

Emily said...

Am I a horrible person if I snickered when maggiecat called Deenie "twisted"?

Anonymous said...

Book banners are ridiculous. You'd think of all the Judy Blume books to ban, they would first focus on Forever. Let me tell you that book was a revelation when I first read it at 12.

Anonymous said...

I don't remember there being any Native Americans in "On the Banks of Plum Creek." There were in "Little House on the Prairie," and I can see where there might have been some questions/challenges. (Though, as suggested, the context of when the books were written, when the events described actually happened, and the limitations in perspective of the author and her characters does come into play here.) But they'd moved out of "Indian Country" and to the more settled Minnesota in "Plum Creek," so I'm equally confused as to what the problem was.

Doppelsis said...

I feel so dirty and corrupted. Doppelganger made me read Judy Blume. I wasn't allowed in her room when we kids unless I read a book. She posted a list of rules outside her door. I'll get you Doppelganger!

Completely unrelated - Doppelganger turns 37 on Saturday, March 3rd.

Anonymous said...

Tiger Eyes? Was banned? That book was my life for a while was probably banned because *gasp!* they talked about lizards in Spanish.

Tammy said...

K, ha! I remember that summer, too. That was you?

Sweetie Darling, yay! I'm glad the book arrived safe and sound, and that it's making a reappearance on your to-read list. I quite liked Moo and was actually quite torn about whether to keep it or let it go.

August, I've read enough of the Bible that I decided to put it on the list. (Plus, I liked the way it looked there.)

And see, I've never actually read Forever, because my library didn't have it. I'm intrigued by it now, but frankly I think it'd look a little skeevy for a thirty-something adult to check it out for the teenage sex scenes.

Andi said...

Ha! Love it! I'm a banned book freak. I gorge on them at every opportunity.

Anonymous said...

Hmmm, I've only read 34 of these (counting Narnia as one and Harry Potter as one, since the list does, though really I shouldn't and that would make it 45). So I've got some reading to do.

I didn't include The Great Gatsby, because I couldn't get through that book. I could finish Anna Karenina, not to mention Clarissa, but Fitzgerald just doesn't do it for me. I know this makes me an oddball among literary types.

Is it time to buy myself the "I Read Banned Books" bracelet?

Anonymous said...

If my memory is correct Henry Miller's Tropic of cancer has also been banned in certain countries including India. I read it in secret during 70's smuugled to India by oversees friends.