Banned Books

Ganked from wilson_lizard

100 banned books. The ones in bold I’ve read.

1. Scary Stories Series by Alvin Schwartz
2. Daddy’s Roommate by Michael Willhoite
3. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
4. The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier
5. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
6. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
7. Forever by Judy Blume
8. Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
9. Heather Has Two Mommies by Leslea Newman
10. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
11. The Giver by Lois Lowry
12. My Brother Sam is Dead by James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier
13. It’s Perfectly Normal by Robie Harris
14. Alice (Series) by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
15. Goosebumps (Series) by R.L. Stine
16. A Day No Pigs Would Die by Robert Newton Peck
17. The Color Purple by Alice Walker
18. Sex by Madonna
19. Earth’s Children (Series) by Jean M. Auel
20. The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Paterson
21. In the Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak
22. The Witches by Roald Dahl
23. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
24. The New Joy of Gay Sex by Charles Silverstein
25. Go Ask Alice by Anonymous
26. The Goats by Brock Cole
27. The Stupids (Series) by Harry Allard
28. Anastasia Krupnik (Series) by Lois Lowry
29. Final Exit by Derek Humphry
30. Blubber by Judy Blume
31. Halloween ABC by Eve Merriam
32. Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George
33. Kaffir Boy by Mark Mathabane
34. The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
35. What’s Happening to my Body? Book for Girls: A Growing-Up Guide for Parents & Daughters by Lynda Madaras
36. Fallen Angels by Walter Dean Myers
37. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
38. The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
39. The Pigman by Paul Zindel
40. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
41. We All Fall Down by Robert Cormier
42. Deenie by Judy Blume
43. Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes
44. Annie on my Mind by Nancy Garden
45. Beloved by Toni Morrison
46. The Boy Who Lost His Face by Louis Sachar
47. Cross Your Fingers, Spit in Your Eye! by Alvin Schwartz
48. Harry Potter (Series) by J.K. Rowling (Read parts, seen the movies)
49. Cujo by Stephen King
50. James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
51. A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein
52. Ordinary People by Judith Guest
53. American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis
54. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
55. Sleeping Beauty Trilogy by A.N. Roquelaure (Anne Rice)
56. Bumps in the Night by Harry Allard
57. Asking About Sex and Growing Up by Joanna Cole
58. What’s Happening to my Body? Book for Boys: A Growing-Up Guide for Parents & Sons by Lynda Madaras
59. The Anarchist Cookbook by William Powell
60. Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume
61. Boys and Sex by Wardell Pomeroy
62. Crazy Lady by Jane Conly
63. Athletic Shorts by Chris Crutcher
64. Killing Mr. Griffin by Lois Duncan
65. Fade by Robert Cormier
66. Guess What? by Mem Fox
67. Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
68. Lord of the Flies by William Golding
69. Native Son by Richard Wright
70. Women on Top: How Real Life Has Changed Women’s Fantasies by Nancy Friday
71. Curses, Hexes and Spells by Daniel Cohen
72. On My Honor by Marion Dane Bauer
73. The House of Spirits by Isabel Allende
74. Jack by A.M. Homes
75. Arizona Kid by Ron Koertge
76. Family Secrets by Norma Klein
77. Mommy Laid An Egg by Babette Cole
78. Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo A. Anaya
79. Where Did I Come From? by Peter Mayle
80. The Face on the Milk Carton by Caroline Cooney
81. Carrie by Stephen King
82. The Dead Zone by Stephen King
83. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
84. Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison
85. Always Running by Luis Rodriguez
87. Where’s Waldo? by Martin Hanford
88. Summer of My German Soldier by Bette Greene
89. Tiger Eyes by Judy Blume
90. Little Black Sambo by Helen Bannerman
91. Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett
92. Running Loose by Chris Crutcher
93. Sex Education by Jenny Davis
94. Jumper by Steven Gould
95. Christine by Stephen King
96. The Drowning of Stephen Jones by Bette Greene
97. That Was Then, This is Now by S.E. Hinton
98. Girls and Sex by Wardell Pomeroy
99. The Wish Giver by Bill Brittain
100. Jump Ship to Freedom by James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier

Censorship is an interesting thing. Looking over the list, it seems that a book is likely to be censored by someone if it falls into one of several broad categories:

– Sex, obviously. Especially works that present either frank and explicit information about sexuality (What’s Happening to my Body?) or images of sex (Madonna’s Sexbook).

– Books which challenge current social views (To Kill a Mockingbird) or sexual mores (Women on Top, Daddy’s Roommate), or which propose societies whose conventions radically differ from our own (The Handmaid’s Tale, Brave New World).

– Books which challenge common religious views, or offer new interpretations of existing religious perspectives (A Wrinkle in Time).

– Books which reveal truths about the human condition which are uncomfortable (Lord of the Flies, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest).

There’s a lot of overlap; some books may fall into more than one category (The Joy of Gay Sex offends both those who don’t like explicit talk about sexuality and those whose social mores don’t allow for homosexuality). The thing that all of these books have in common, ultimately, is that they make people uncomfortable, and things which are uncomfortable are also deeply threatening.

The discomfort, I think, largely comes from protecting illusion. People create and re-create illusions about themselves and the world around them all the time; these illusions serve a function, often to calm the fear of death (as is the case with many religious ideas), or to create a comforting reality that the world is a just place and people are basically good, or to provide a means to deal with sexual or social impulses that are uncomfortable.

On some level, many people who hold these illusions know they’re illusions; if they didn’t, the ideas in these books would not be threatening. A book that says gravity doesn’t exist is not threatening, because we all know that gravity does exist; it’s as unshakable and undeniable as anything in the world can be.

And for a person strong in his religious or moral views, these boos are not threatening. A person whose faith in his religion is unshakable is not frightened by someone who chllenges or reinterprets his god; the person whose faith is challenged by a book is the person whose faith is already fragile to begin with.

It really seems that this list is all about protecting fragile ideas. Peope are threatened by homosexuality when they believe that their own sexual identity is fragile. People are threatened by new social views when they perceive their own ideas about social structures to be under attack. People are threatened by the idea that not all human beings are kind and just and under the right circumstances, anyone can be a monster when they try to maintain the illusion that they have no inner darkness themselves.

People cling to their illusions most tightly when those illusions are most transparent. Nobody is a louder advocate of his faith than the man who is losing his faith.

I wonder if the people who seek to ban these books know what they’re revealing about themselves.

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