It’s been a while since I’ve blogged, but I can’t ignore Banned Books Week.
So many of the top challenged books of 2016 are children’s and young adult books. Would I let my children read sexually explicit or violent books or books with excessive profanity (as determined by me)? No, because as a parent, it’s my job to parent my kids. I don’t leave this responsibility up to my neighbor, my congressman, or my local library. It’s my job.
Banning books is a suppression of first amendment rights. Challenging books based on your personal belief system is ignorant, presumptuous, and oppressive. I respect your right to have your own personal beliefs and ethics but don’t force them on me. That’s not your job.
There is one positive thing about banning/challenging books: it raises awareness of topics that some people would prefer that society remains ignorant of like LGBT, growing up and maturing, what it means to be transgender, opposing viewpoints, sex education, and what some people believe to be excessive profanity or sexually explicit. Knowledge is power and understanding opposing viewpoints is to understand someone who isn’t exactly like you.
I welcome Banned Books Week every year and enjoy thinking about, looking at, and even rereading the banned/challenged books residing on my bookshelves and acquiring new books every year as well. I hope that by raising awareness and spotlighting these books every year that one mind, at least, is changed and encouraged to be more accepting and open.
I’ve had a busy week, so far, when it comes to reading. I had a few unexpected requests come in from Net Galley, which has made me switch up my reading list just a smidge. We’ll start out with What Are You Reading Wednesdays hosted by It’s a Reading Thing and go from there.
Grab the book you are currently reading and answer three questions:
1. What’s the name of your current read?
2. Go to page 34 in your book or 34% in your eBook and share a couple of sentences.
3. Would you like to live in the world that exists within your book? Why or why not?
I’m currently reading Sepulcher (every time I type that word into WP, it highlights it as being misspelled even though it’s not) by Kate Mosse. At page 34 we have:
Anatole smiled. “Ah, but that is precisely the point. Debussy says that one must drown the sense of key. He is seeking to illuminate, through his music, the connections between the material and the spiritual worlds, the seen and the unseen, and such a thing cannot be presented in the traditional ways.”
Leonie pulled a face. “That sounds like one of those clever things people say that mean precisely nothing!”
I love that this passage is on page 34 because I laughed when I first read it. I get irritated at the same thing that Leonie does here.
This book takes place mostly in France (From what I can tell so far. I’m only on page 75.) but it switches back in forth in time from 1891 to 2007. I wouldn’t mind living in France in either of these times, but I’d probably prefer 1891…at least until WWI started.
The rules for this meme: Write a blog post about a book you already own but haven’t read yet. Include when and where you got it.
I am picking Brave New World by Aldous Huxley this week because it’s an ALA challenged book and I’m going to do my best to actually read it sometime this week, lol. We’ll see how it goes. I bought this book at a used book store but I’m drawing a blank on which one and I have absolutely no memory of when. I want to say it’s been at least a year if not two but definitely less than four, lmao!!
Aldous Huxley is rightly considered a prophetic genius and one of the most important literary and philosophical voices of the 20th Century, and Brave New World is his masterpiece. From the author of The Doors of Perception, Island, and countless other works of fiction, non-fiction, philosophy, and poetry, comes this powerful work of speculative fiction that has enthralled and terrified readers for generations. Brave New World remains absolutely relevant to this day as both a cautionary dystopian tale in the vein of the George Orwell classic 1984, and as thought-provoking, thoroughly satisfying entertainment.
This article from the Washington Post on why this book has been challenged is hilarious. When I bought it, I didn’t know it was a challenged book. I bought it because it was a dystopian novel written in 1932 and I wanted to compare it to dystopian novels written more recently. Now, I’ll read it with the reasoning behind the challenges in mind.
This is one of my favorite weeks of the year. Discussing challenged books, the reasons they’ve been challenged, institutions that have decided to exclude certain books and even libraries that opt not to shelve challenged books invigorates me.There’s nothing I like better than a lively discussion, especially when books are the topic.
This year, the focus of Banned Books Week is diversity. It seems that the rising trend is parents suggesting that specific books be removed from a school’s curriculum because they (the books) expose their children to “sensitive” subjects such as LGBT, racism, and atheism (to name a few). What cracks me up is that parents think by removing books from schools that they find to be offensive is actually going to A) Stop their children from reading them and B) Stop their children from being exposed to these topics/themes. What a book can be and should be is a starting point for an open conversation between you and your child about these topics. Unless you’re raising your kid in a bubble and off the grid, they’re going to meet at least one gay and/or lesbian and/or atheist and/or racist person in their lives. Most likely, they’re going to meet at least one a day at school. Because you know what??? These are the people that make up our society. Get a clue.
The ALA said that in 2014, 8 out of 10 challenges were made about diverse books. Last year, it was 9 out of 10. Doesn’t this say “close minded” to anyone else? Doesn’t it concern anyone else? By challenging books with these themes, I think it demonstrates a bigger problem on a smaller scale.
What really gets my goat is when parents challenge a book that they haven’t even read. That is the epitome of ignorance and stupidity. I’m referring to the ridiculousness out of Chesterfield, VA. Here’s the story if you haven’t read it. And can I just say, “Wow,”? People never cease to amaze me.
If YOU find a book offensive, don’t read it and don’t let YOUR child read it. It’s truly that simple. Don’t decide for others what is or is not offensive. It’s not your job.
I had a pretty good month of reading. My favorite, by far, was The Martian by Andy Weir. My least favorite was The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald. I feel bad saying that because this novel was an ARC that isn’t due out until January. It wasn’t a bad book, per se. But, I’m not sad that I don’t own a copy of this for my bookshelf. I rated it 2 of 5 stars on Goodreads. What I said there is all I’m going to say about it.
Also on my September list:
The Demon King by Cinda Williams Chima
It’s a Wonderful Death by Sarah J. Schmitt
The Diviners by Libba Bray
The Scorch Trials by James Dashner
Lair of Dreams by Libba Bray
Saga, Volume 1 by Brian K. Vaughan (reread)
Saga, Volume 2 by Brian K. Vaughan
The New Hunger by Isaac Marion
I feel like I’m leaving something out, but oh well. Ten books for the month of September isn’t too shabby, especially considering the volume of reading I’ve had to read about museums for my class. I also started volunteering at a museum this month too.
This week is, of course, Banned Books Week. It’s one of my favorite weeks of the year. Nothing gets me in a tizzy faster than discussing the ignorance of banning or challenging books. I think few things demonstrate a narrowness of mind more than the reasons behind challenging books. I’ve read news articles over the years of school across the country attempting to remove one book or another from said school’s curriculum and/or library based on complaints from teachers and/or parents and/or random people in the community. Their reasoning is never sound and in some cases, the people voicing the complaints haven’t even read the book. They are simply basing their complaint on the opinions of others. It’s maddening.
In celebration of Banned Books Week, I usually choose a book or two from the challenged lists published by the ALA. This year, I’m rereading Saga Vol 1 (because it’s been so long since I’ve first read it) and Saga Vol 2. by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples. I’d also like to try and fit in Brave New World by Aldous Huxley but with my school schedule and the books that I’m already reading, I might not have the time.
Please!! Take part in Banned Books Week by spreading the word, changing your Facebook profile picture, reading one of the books on the challenged lists, or just discussing the pros (if you can find one) and cons of challenging books with someone else. Raise awareness as to why removing books from libraries and schools impedes education. Help others to realize why you should read a book critically before judging it and deciding if it’s offensive in some way.