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One highly opinionated feminist YA nerd's twisted, snarky and informative journey through the genre's perils, pitfalls and sparkles.

Celebrate the controversial - banned book week!

September 25th to October 2nd is Banned Book Week so we are currently in the midst of celebrating all that has been banned, challenged or frowned upon. While this isn't as huge an issue in the UK as it is in America (although we do have a lot of church anger over His Dark Materials), censorship is something that needs to be talked about and tackled worldwide. This is something that happens everyday and is often allowed to happen without any real discussion over the issues at hand or the topics considered so terrible that they must be sealed away and forgotten about. According to the American Library Associaton, the ALA, over the past 9 years, American libraries were faced with over 4300 challenges and over half of them were because of "sexually explicit material" or "inappropriate language." But genuine fears have been twisted into something unrecognisable just so they match the perceptions bigoted and ignorant people already have (such as the recent case with "Speak") and people get scared about what's out there so are afraid to fight back. And so often it's children and young adults that end up missing out. Last year, out of the top 10 most challenged books in USA, 6 were childrens or young adult books:

1. “TTYL; TTFN; L8R, G8R (series), by Lauren Myracle
Reasons: Nudity, Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group, Drugs

2. “And Tango Makes Three” by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson
Reasons: Homosexuality

3. “The Perks of Being A Wallflower,” by Stephen Chbosky
Reasons: Homosexuality, Sexually Explicit, Anti-Family, Offensive Language, Religious Viewpoint,
Unsuited to Age Group, Drugs, Suicide

4. “To Kill A Mockingbird,” by Harper Lee
Reasons: Racism, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group

5. Twilight (series) by Stephenie Meyer
Reasons: Sexually Explicit, Religious Viewpoint, Unsuited to Age Group

6. “Catcher in the Rye,” by J.D. Salinger
Reasons: Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group

7. “My Sister’s Keeper,” by Jodi Picoult
Reasons: Sexism, Homosexuality, Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Religious Viewpoint, Unsuited to Age Group, Drugs, Suicide, Violence

8. “The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big, Round Things,” by Carolyn Mackler
Reasons: Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group

9. “The Color Purple,” Alice Walker
Reasons: Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group

10. “The Chocolate War,” by Robert Cormier
Reasons: Nudity, Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group

(Side note: Twilight? Sexually explicit? Okay, Twilight does sell sex, albeit in the same way that Disney sells sex but seriously, those books are the anti-viagra. As if you needed any more proof that book banners are stupid. And no, I don't feel bad saying that.)

So what can you do about it? Simple - read. Buy books, go to the library, request these books, do some e-book downloading or hit the web at Amazon. Nowadays it's becoming harder and harder to hide information so take advantage of that and don't be afraid to fight back. Take full advantage of your freedom of speech and don't let anyone tell you differently.

Giveaway time!

As seen in my previous post, I reviewed one of the most challenged YA books in recent years, "The Absolutely True Story of a Part-Time Indian" by Sherman Alexie and gave it a rave review which, coming from me, is a big deal. To pass on the love and information, I will be giving away my copy of the book (slightly battered but I prefer the term 'well loved') to one lucky commenter. To enter, just leave a comment in this entry before Monday 4th October and I'll pick one person at random.

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13 comments:

anneloes4 said...

Ooh, book giveaway! :3

That list existing makes me sad.

Ariana said...

It still baffles me that modern classics like To Kill a Mockingbird and Catcher in the Rye are still challenged.

But yaaaaaaaaay book giveaways!

strawberrysgirl said...

LOL OOPS I read Mockingbird IN A PUBLIC SCHOOL CLASS. My teacher failed at following banning, lol. Anyway, I'd love to possibly win the book, it sounds fabulous so count this as an entry.

R.R. said...

I'm not entirely surprised that Twilight made this list, actually. It does catch a lot of flack in liberal circles by sheer virtue of being written by a Mormon woman. Also, it was originally written for older women! Meyer actually marketed it as such when she was first shopping it around.

One day, I hope I'll write something that's challenged. Up yours, Middle America!

psychedeliceyes said...

I'm actually not commenting for the giveaway, great as it sounds. I'm just commenting because I have (possibly inane and incoherent) things to say.

That being said, I've read six out of ten on the list. Not bad, not bad. Now, I've never understand people that list "nudity" as an offense. It's not like you can see the nudity so what's the problem? If I read a book where a character changes clothes does this make me the female equivalent of a peeping tom?

Also, correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't My Sister's Keeper marketed as an adult novel? If so, I fail to understand how it's unsuited to its age group.

Also, what does "anti-family" even mean? I read The Perks of Being a Wallflower and it placed a bigger importance on family than most YA novels.

And, of course, reasons like homosexuality, offensive language, drugs, suicide, etc. are problematic for obvious reasons so I'm not even going to get into it right now.

Interestingly, I was reading an article on Yahoo earlier that said the dictionary was listed on the banned books list because it lists ORAL SEX. Watch as I lose my hope in humanity.

truthpact said...

I HAVE to read that penguin book. I'm hitting up the library tomorrow.

I hope I don't come off as a creeper for standing in the childrens' section...

splinfinitive said...

I'm a little baffled by the idea of Twilight being sexually explicit. I mean, the whole book is practically a sermon on abstinence. "Sexually explicit" as a reason for banning books is pretty ridiculous as it is, though.

irishelflinwe said...

To Kill a Mockingbird? STILL? Really? I'm not AS surprised by Catcher in the Rye, but wow. People need to get with the 21st century already. Shows you how differently some people see things. Both of those are required reading by (gasp) teenagers where I grew up. I think The Color Purple is required reading in some lit classes in the nearby college as well.

Joining the list of people who are confused by Twilight being sexually explicit, although extra lols for being "sexually explicit" AND "religious viewpoint." That may crack me up all day.

I already soapboxed about my views on censorship, so I won't go there again. :P

berseker said...

... Twilight. Sexually explicit. Does. Not. Compute.

Laura Frunza said...

I'm surprised classics like To Kill a Mocking Bird and The Catcher in the Rye are banned. I'm lucky enough to be living in a country where people don't ban books anymore (maybe because we lived for 50 years under a communist regime when everything was banned) and where parents let their children read mostly anything they want. (I was in 9th grade and reading Sandra Brown novels with pretty explicit sex scenes and I don't think that had me grow a deranged person or something of the kind).
I'd like to enter the giveaway, if I win, you won't have to send the book all the way to Romania, my best friend is in NY now and she could bring it home to me. Fingers crossed for me! :-)

Laura Frunza said...

One more thing, I can't follow your blog on Google Friend Connect, can you check the link? It says "the requested url is too large to process". I'll add the blog to my Google reader for now, I love it and loved the sparkle project on Live Journal, I read it all as soon as I discovered it via Books I don't like.

paulnolan said...

3. “The Perks of Being A Wallflower,” by Stephen Chbosky
Reasons: Homosexuality, Sexually Explicit, Anti-Family, Offensive Language, Religious Viewpoint, Unsuited to Age Group, Drugs, Suicide


Given the downright sinister connotations the word "family" has for me (being, as it is, doublespeak for "anti-queer"), I'd see a book being "anti-family" being a point of pride, not a reason to ban. C:

fromthisgirl said...

Ah, banning Twilight is silly. I hate the books, but I'm still going to let my kids read them. My intention is to tell them how crappy I think the series is once they're done, and ideally they'll think the same but you never know. *shrug*

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