**Disclaimer: This post contains upsetting concepts**
Imagine a world with no Edward or Bella, or worse yet, no Jacob…
If this sentence caused you to hyperventilate then I suggest you look away now:
Imagine a world with no Harry Potter.
I know! Why would I say such a thing?
The Hunger Games, Twilight, Harry Potter, Thirteen Reasons Why, The Fault in Our Stars. These are just a handful of the books that have been banned in the 21st Century!!!
Whenever I think of Banned Books, Oscar Wilde and DH Lawrence spring to mind but the history of censorship stems back even further – Ovid in ancient Rome, Shakespeare’s Richard II and King Lear, Galileo was forced to renounce his theories, Charles Darwin’s Origin of the Species was banned by his own college – Trinity (Cambridge) and the Russians banned Sherlock Holmes!!! It might surprise you to know that even Captain Underpants made the list for ‘encouraging bad behaviour.’ Not even Roald Dahl was safe from the censors – they took particular dislike to The Witches in the U.S. and various other titles of his have been challenged over the years.
Maya Angelou, John Steinbeck, Philip Pullman, Mark Twain, Toni Morrison, Judy Blume, JD Salinger, Alice Walker, Harper Lee, Aldous Huxley – the list goes on.
We won’t talk about book burning as that is another matter altogether and one that tends to upset us librarian types…
If I had a list of reasons for banning books it would start with unhappy endings and progress quickly on to not having enough vampire references! Or maybe I would invent a totally arbitrary ‘boringness’ scale (yes, I made that word up).
In all seriousness – we are highlighting Banned Books Week in libraries this week, increasing awareness of censorship and hopefully encouraging you to have a little read of something that someone somewhere felt strongly enough about to censor. If you take a trip over to the Banned Books Week website: bannedbooksweek.org.uk you’ll find lots of resources, including some informative lists of banned books as well as information (and a toolkit) for schools and teachers.
Obviously we always advocate ‘keeping the light on’ as it is never too late to read another chapter.
Just in case you have somehow managed thus far not to have read Harry Potter – I challenge you to read it. Yes, that’s right. Challenge. Well, you can listen to it if you prefer – I’ll give you a link for BorrowBox as well as the book, be warned however, these books are hugely popular and there will likely be a waiting list!
Next up and very timely in light of the forthcoming TV adaptation is Northern Lights by Philip Pullman.
If you read this and don’t have a desire to pop down to Oxford and absorb the atmosphere, I think there might be something wrong with you!
Pullman created a universe in which I really do wish I could disappear into (at least for a day).
If you prefer to read electronically you can borrow the complete trilogy now from BorrowBox.
How about John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars? You may have watched the film, perhaps in a cinema of sobbing teenagers? (fun times)
The most common reasons for banning books, especially for young people, are bad language, sexual content, reference to suicide, LGBT references and for challenging religious beliefs. Sometimes though a book will be banned, like The Fault in Our Stars for something as simple as talking about difficult subjects like cancer, death and dying (the swearing and sex were a no no too!)
Have you read it? Have your young people read it? Let me know – I thought this one was okay, not my favourite by this author, I really enjoyed Looking for Alaska. (which I think may have been banned too?) I am intrigued by An Abundance of Katherines – it is available to listen to on BorrowBox right now if you want to beat me to it!
If you have read any of my previous blog posts then you probably have a feel for my usual reading predilections, so it may surprise you to know that I actually love DH Lawrence, and Sons & Lovers is my all time favourite by this author.
I am loving this particular cover because it would fit in so well with all the modern erotica titles like Fifty Shades of Grey, which incidentally must have had the censors foaming at the mouth and thus, deserves a read for that alone.
I’ll link a few more titles here for you to explore, ones that are not really my cup of tea but I still respect your right to read!
13 Reason Why – Jay Asher (eBook version, available now)
Well I hope you have enjoyed your journey into the forbidden and that I have tempted you to read some of these illicit texts!
Let me know if you have read and enjoyed any of these titles, hopefully we all agree that books are for reading not banning, however much fun making up reasons to ban may be!