Monday, September 26, 2011

Banned Books Week 2011

If you've been reading this blog awhile, you may remember my Banned Books Week post here about To Kill a Mockingbird. I'm very passionate about my right to read what I choose to read. I'm also passionate about educating our young people so they know how to read and how to determine what's good and worthy versus what's destructive and wrong. If our energies focus on educating people, we shouldn't need to withhold anything.

It's Banned Books Week this week, and the wonderful folks at Open Road Media have shared some great content with me to celebrate this week. I'm going to divide it up so that we can start and end this week in celebration of our right to read uncensored.

So, today, courtesy of Open Road Media, we have bestselling authors speaking out on behalf of Banned Books Week by sharing their favorite banned books and more.

Susan Isaacs is a New York Times bestselling author of mysteries and literary fiction. Her first mystery, Compromising Positions, was a runaway success and adapted into a film starring Susan Sarandon and Raul Julia. The former president of the Mystery Writers of America, she is also the winner of several awards including the John Steinbeck Award. Ms. Isaacs shares her favorite on the Banned Books List.

My favorite banned book is Huckleberry Finn. It's famous for its depiction of race and class in America, but what I love most are the characters. They are so human -- courageous, venal, funny, cruel -- and seem more alive than half the people I meet every day. Yes, the escaped slave is called Nigger Jim, but that was the truth of the time, the offhand viciousness Suppressing that fact to save feelings from being hurt is the cowardly way out.

I don't want anyone else judging what books I can read. I don't need to be protected. Anyway, who is fit to judge? A Supreme Court justice? A librarian? Whom do you trust to ban books for you or your kids? And if the person you'd choose is too busy, or not interested in being a censor, who gets the job?

I am never surprised at any book being banned. Everybody has a sore spot, some idea he or she thinks is dangerous to let out. We want to shut up racists, gun advocates, gay advocates, blasphemers, and mega-church preachers. If we can ban Merchant of Venice or Catch-22, the world will be a better place. Wrong. Shut up a neighbor and next week or next year it's your favorite book's turn to get muzzled Weenies ban books. They're scared of new thoughts and tough words. Be brave. Fight censorship. And buy a banned book.

Jon Land, bestselling and award-winning author of more than twenty-five novels shares with readers his favorite banned book along with which book on the list surprises him the most.

I'd have to say my favorite banned book is Huckleberry Finn. It's not only one of my favorite books, but also arguably the greatest American novel ever written. To even consider taking it from shelves, and restricting its teaching by teachers, risks denying young people a coming of age tale that pictures America in the last moments before the Industrial revolution, capturing an innocence that in Twain's mind was always a sham. Huck himself remains one of the great American heroes of all time and his character provides countless life lessons of loyalty, friendship, heroism, and sacrifice that are denied to those who reach up to grab the book only to find it's not there.

As far as which surprises me the most? Well, the truth is any and all of them. But I'm going to focus on The Diary of Anne Frank because to deny access to this book, in any way, shape, or form, is to risk denying the horrors perpetuated on humanity by the most vile monsters in modern history. And to deny those horrors is to risk the very real possibility that such monsters could return in a different age with a different target. Could the banning of a single book cause such a thing? Of course not. But the mentality that would allow such a book to be banned could definitely allow, if not encourage, a new wave of monsters and the heinous acts they perpetuate.

New York Times bestselling Dame Ruth Rendell has written more than seventy books and sold more than twenty million copies worldwide, including her popular crime series featuring Chief Inspector Wexford. Dame Rendell, who lives in the U.K. was surprised to hear any of these books had been banned.

I'd no idea any of these books were banned anywhere. My two favourites would be Orwell's 1984 because it is, in my opinion, the best science fiction ever written, and a wonderful cry for freedom and expose of what we have to fear in the modern world, and Alice in Wonderland because I first read it when I was about five, because it is funny and witty and clever, which most children's books are not and it stays with you in all its details for the whole of your life. 

So now it's your turn. What is YOUR favorite banned book? Or what surprised you the most when you heard it had been challenged or banned? I will have another group of authors sharing their thoughts on banned books Friday, so check back!


pattinase (abbott) September 26, 2011 at 12:55 PM  

To Kill A Mockingbird because Harper Lee wrote it to refute the very racism that its banning confirms.

Joe Barone September 26, 2011 at 6:49 PM  

Catcher in the Rye. I read it as a teenager.

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