Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Tuesday Thingers: Banned Books List

This week is Banned Books Week, and Marie at The Boston Bibliophile has an appropriate project for the Tuesday Thingers group. Take the list of Most Frequently Challenged Books of the 1990s from the ALA website, highlight what you've read, and italicize what you have in your LT library.

It's a long list and I'm afraid my showing isn't very good, so I've edited it to show just the books I've read and/or have in my LT library. Here's my list:

  1. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain - Gets my vote for Great American Novel. I've read it many times.
  2. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck - I always thought this was pretty awful, but don't see why it's so often challenged. Just dull and boring.
  3. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger - One of the favorite books of my youth. Whenever I reread it today, I just end up thinking what a nasty little piece of work Holden is. He definitely had too much time on his hands. They should have pulled him out of that prep school, smacked him a few times, and sent him out to find a job.
  4. The Color Purple by Alice Walker - I've never read this and I'm very embarrassed to admit that. I'd make it my project for the week, except that I'm snowed under with challenge books right now.
  5. Earth’s Children (Series) by Jean M. Auel - Well, I haven't read the whole series - just the first book. I liked it, but not enough to continue watching everybody evolve.
  6. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle - Haven't read this yet, but it's on my list.
  7. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood - The only Atwood I've read. More cause for embarrassment.
  8. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee - First read this when it originally came out back in the 60s. Loved it then, love it now. Don't know why I don't have a copy in my library.
  9. Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes - OK, I don't see this listed in my LT catalogue, but I've definitely got it around here somewhere because my husband just read it recently. He must be hiding it under all those guitar magazines in his study.
  10. Harry Potter (Series) by J.K. Rowling - Again, haven't read the whole series - just the first book. Don't imagine I'll read any others anytime soon. Not a big fan of Potter. Even less of Rowling.
  11. A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein - Great book. I think I've given a copy of this book, at one time or another, to just about every child I've known.
  12. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley - Huxley was a huge favorite of my "crowd" in high school.
  13. Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut - If you were a college student in the late 60s, this was required reading.
  14. Lord of the Flies by William Golding - Strange, disturbing book from a strange, disturbing time in the history of the world.
  15. Native Son by Richard Wright - I've read some of Wright's short works, but not the novels.
  16. The House of Spirits by Isabel Allende - I've liked most of the "magic realism" I've read, so I really should try this one.
  17. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain - One of the first "long" books I read by myself. I'm pretty sure I read Tom before I read Huck.
  18. Where’s Waldo? by Martin Hanford - OK, tell me why anyone would challenge this book. There's really not much to read here anyway, is there?
  19. Little Black Sambo by Helen Bannerman - I loved this when I was a toddler. All those tigers melting into butter just seemed magical. OK, so I was a strange toddler. I'm pretty sure I own several editions, but I think they're all in storage with most of my children's books.

I find it interesting that the list from the 2000-2007 period is slightly different from the 1990s list. It seems strange that a book would make it on one list, and not another. I can sort of understand it when it's a new title. But why should Fahrenheit 451 all of a sudden become suspect? Or why was One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest acceptable in the 1990s, but not after 2000? Well, I suppose the answer has something to do with book banning not being a rational sort of practice in the first place.


  1. The classics that show up on the more current list were probably still on the list in the 1990's just farther down because of all the "hot topic" bannings that tend to fade with time.

  2. lenore--
    I suppose that's true. I just think it's interesting the way things go in and out of favor. Obviously, you can be scandalous one year and perfectly acceptable the next.

  3. I was wondering also why Where's Waldo was on the list. You read about the same ones I have.

  4. I think these things come in waves. There will be a lot of publicity about a book, and suddenly everyone notices it's in their library and they jump on the bandwagon.

    One of the things I found puzzling that the "What's Happening with my Body" book for girls was so much higher up on the list than the book for boys. Says something about the way we think about boys and girls.

  5. Hi, I just tagged you for a meme! Read about it here!

  6. Joy, I like that you commented on the books that you've read, to give us some additional insight.

    On my post I hightlighted the books I've read, then noticed that a large number were kids' books. I looked into why a few of them had been challenged, then added a few notes at the bottom of my post.


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