Banned Books Week runs from September 24th to October 1st this year. You may have noticed my most recent post was a review of To Kill a Mockingbird, which is one of the most banned books of all time, which I even discussed in the post. Was this all a part of some subtle plan of mine to raise awareness about the dangers of censorship in our society? I wish. I can barely plan dinner from day to day lately, much less picking up a book WEEKS in advance of an event. But let’s all pretend that was on purpose, mmkay?
Banned Books Week is a celebration of our right to read, and to bring awareness to books that are challenged in our school systems. On their official website they list the ten most challenged books of 2010. One of them was Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America, by Barbara Ehrenreich. I have read that book, and it’s fantastic. The excuses people use for challenging some of these books are so specious it’s insulting, however number 10 on the list is the Twilight series, so I can’t dismiss all the challenges.
Here are a few links for your edification:
I honestly don’t understand the reasoning behind some of these challenges. The Great Gatsby is a terrible book, but that doesn’t mean other people shouldn’t have access to it. By the way, I cannot honestly believe that anyone thinks The Great Gatsby is the best novel of the 20th century. Have these people actually read beyond the dust jacket??
Anyway, as I said in my blog post the other day, the people who want to ban books often miss the point of the actual book. To Kill a Mockingbird is a record of how black people were actually treated in the deep south during that time period, and the whole book is dedicated to showing this as injustice. Why would anyone, especially black people, want to ban it? Unfortunately, that was the case: “After unsuccessfully trying to ban Lee’s novel, three black parents resigned from the township human relations advisory council.”
I wish people could look beyond the surface of the novel, and actually understand what it’s about. It’s unfortunate that people lash out in their ignorance. For that reason alone, I can’t imagine ever trying to ban a book.
Let’s all defy the people who would reduce our choice of reading material. Yes, even you Twi-hards. Let’s all read and buy and love books that other people think we aren’t smart enough or mature enough to read. Forget those people! Do what you want! (But, still do what I say, obviously). Read lots of books! BOOKS ARE THE GREATEST!!
Let’s just get all of this out of the way right now: No, I have never read To Kill a Mockingbird before. No, I did not have to read it in high school. Yes, I went to a normal high school. I don’t know why I didn’t have to read it. Anymore repetitive, asinine questions?? No? Good. The answers are now a matter of public record, so no one can ask me any of that ever again without getting redirected to the blog. Now let’s get down to business.
Some books are classics seemingly only because people are continuously forced to read them. It’s like group bonding through shared suffering, and has little to do with the actual merits of the book (I’m looking at you Great Gatsby, and Madame Bovary). This is not one of those books.
In case you don’t know, To Kill a Mockingbird is about a white family living in a small Southern town in the 1930′s. The whole story is told from the point of view of the youngest child, Scout. The father is a lawyer, who is court-appointed to defend a black man against rape charges from a white woman.
Much of the book focuses on racial issues of the time period, and has often been banned for that reason. Yes, there is offensive language, but everything about it, including the way black people are treated in the town, is accurate to the sentiments at the time; there are probably still people in the deep south that feel that way to this day. The book shows the injustice and indignities black people have had to endure, and the entire book is dedicated to erradicating these wrongs. I have no idea why people would want to ban a book that is completely in favor of equality for all people. It just goes to show that people get distracted by bad language, and miss the point entirely when they focus on such useless minutea.
The plot builds slowly, according to modern standards, but the entire length is absorbing. The plot of the trial is skillfully woven through the entire novel, just hints and bits at first, until your shoulders are tense with anticipation of the verdict. Every part of the book has a purpose, and is written both fluidly, and realistically.
On the Clever Chick Scale this gets a “This book redeems the term ‘Classic’”. Oh, and I’m keeping it. Find your own copy!