Banned & Challenged Books Week

Hi Everyone! I’m blogging outside the box today because it is #BannedBooksWeek! I decided to do a little research on the honorary week, and suggest you check out the American Library Association (ALA) list of banned and challenged books!

I did so myself, and wasn’t surprised at what I saw on the banned books list- mostly books that were ahead of their time or had controversial points of view. As it is, some of these are still talked about in controversy! What did surprise me is that I read most of these novels between middle and high school ages- formative years. Each one has broadened my understanding of the time periods, taught me to see both sides of conflicts and resolutions, helped me sort where my moral values stand, and fueled my love for historical fiction!

Banned Classics:

The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald
To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
Ulysses, by James Joyce
1984, by George Orwell
Gone with the Wind, by Margaret Mitchell
The Call of the Wild, by Jack London

Then we reach the challenged books. This list really surprised me. I know I read about a third of these before I even entered middle school, and I haven’t read any of these post high school graduation. To think of a child reading challenged books- *gasp*! Of course, when I skimmed through the entire selection of challenged books, I understand many of them had adult themes- sex, mostly, but also drugs, violence, strong language and other controversial content that would make any movie “Rated R”. But some of these on my list- Junie B. Jones, REALLY?!- were shocking.

Challenged 1990-2009:

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain

Goosebumps (series), by R.L. Stine

The Witches, by Roald Dahl

Blubber, by Judy Blume

The Outsiders, by S.E. Hinton

To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee

Harry Potter (series), by J.K. Rowling

James and the Giant Peach, by Roald Dahl

Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret, by Judy Blume

Carrie, by Stephen King

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, by Mark Twain
ttyl; ttfn; l8r g8r (series), by Lauren Myracle
Captain Underpants (series), by Dav Pilkey
Gossip Girl (series), by Cecily von Ziegesar
The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big, Round Things, by Carolyn Mackler
Angus, Thongs, and Full Frontal Snogging, by Louise Rennison
Blood and Chocolate, by Annette Curtis Klause
Junie B. Jones (series), by Barbara Park
The Lovely Bones, by Alice Sebold

 

So there you have it- I’m completely guilty of reading these books, and I’m thankful that I’ve had the freedom- AND HAVE BEEN ENCOURAGED- to read them all. I think that reading has helped me become the mature, well-rounded, educated woman that I am, and every book has allowed me to open my mind, experience life through someone else, and ingrained the moral of the stories into my body. I’ll always carry a bit of Scout, Scarlett, Ponyboy , Harry and the trio, Tom and Huck, and Gatsby and Daisy… all of them along within me. And, above all, I encourage others to do the same- to learn from these characters, to express their thoughts and ideas, and to keep their minds open.

Now, it’s your turn! Feel free to share what banned books you’ve read!

 

 

Advertisements

Root, Petal, Thorn by Ella Joy Olsen

“I was the model of efficiency…by taking advantage of the greatest invention since bacon…audio-books.”

First off, this quote was my favorite part of the whole book. How spot on is that statement?!

Anyways, lets jump right in.

Ivy Baygreen is a recently widowed woman with two teens and a century old house. Prior to his sudden death, her late husband Adam had made plans to renovate and refurbish the old home to bring back it’s old charm and character. Now surrounded by the half-finished projects and memories of Adam, Ivy knows she needs something to pull her out of her grief. Her brother, Stephen, suggests making a list and sticking to it, so Ivy creates six steps, including finishing the house projects Adam started. As Ivy starts tackling these projects, she ends up finding “easter eggs” from the house’s past owners. Curious to learn about her beloved home’s past, Ivy finds that her heart wasn’t the first broken in the home.

Going back through the years, the reader is introduced to the home’s first owners, the Lansings. Sisters Emmeline and Cora are new to the Sugar House, UT area. Bringing along few posessions, including a rose bush, the sisters learn to love their new home and a few local young men. From there, we meet Bitsy, Cora’s daughter, who watches her father stuggle to keep the house as the Great Depression hits. After some time, Eris Gianopolous and her Greek family come to owning the home. We watch Eris and her husband update the home as well, Eris’s own form of therapy while she awaits her son’s return from Japan during World War II. Then during the 1960’s, we meet Lainey Harper, the most recent occupant of the Downington Avenue home. Struggling manic-depressive disorder, Lainey is desperate to be a good mother to her daughter Sylvie.

As all the ghost’s of the house come to surface, Ivy learns that “there is a little sad in every story”.

Personally, I liked the idea of this book more that the book itself. I liked the concept of the common plot line where the main character discovers something historical in the attic and connects it with the present, so the reader gets a historical flashback. However, while reading, the entries from the past are rather scattered, in my opinion. I think that would’ve made the climaxes to each storyline have a stronger impact if they had been in a more consistent order. Also, the same goes for the “chapters” being separated by character- I like that style, but there wasn’t a real order to the characters as their stories intertwined. Overall though, once you have all the storylines figured out at the end of the book, the parallels of love and strife come together nicely between all the characters.

All in all, it’s not a ‘keeper’ for the bookshelves, but it wasn’t a bad read. As someone who has recently bought a house, I can definitely relate to the ‘home renovation as therapy’ theme.

 

The Hearts of Horses by Molly Gloss

It took me about two days to tear through this ‘modern’ western. Written in 2007 yet set in 1917, this novel was meant for horse girls like myself- dreamers of what life in the wild west would be like.

The novel follows central protagonist Martha Lesson as she set out into Elwha County in search of horses to break for ranchwork. Leaving hometown Pendleton and an abusive father behind, Martha is determined to make her dream of riding through unfenced, open, wild west country come true. Though unsure at first, she finds work with George and Louise Bliss on their farm, and eventually they help her start a riding circle in the county, breaking and riding horses from farm to farm. They introduce her to many old time and new settlers who become prominent figures in her new life, and eventually she comes upon reason to stay.

It’s a lovely little book that has excitement, humor, hard life, and romance. Gloss did a great job weaving in the history of settling the west with the then current events surrounding World War I, and still keeping the plot moving forward with the interaction between the characters.

I think I’ll be keeping this one on my bookshelves.

Neither Wolf Nor Dog by Kent Nerburn

Before I get too far into this book review, I just want to state two things.

  1. I am and will always be learning about culture, respect, and what it means to combine the two.
  2. I think Kent Nerburn did an amazing job at trying to explain how the walk the line between the two.

On to the plot summary…

Nerburn is contacted by an elderly Indian man called Dan via his daughter on the phone. She relays the message that Dan read some of Nerburn’s work, and wanted to speak to him in person. Not knowing what he was in for, Nerburn makes the trip to meet Dan. When he finds out that Dan wants him to write a book about what he’s observed over the years with his white and Indian eyes, Nerburn is unsure if he can write it in a way that allows Dan’s stories to be heard without the white polish that’s rewritten so much of America’s history. Together, they go on a journey to figure out how to share Dan’s wisdom.

Now, I feel that if I delve into my thoughts and what I think about this novel, it would almost seem counter-productive from what I’ve learned from reading the story of Dan. Like Nerburn, I want to see further too. So I’m just going to give you some eye-opening lines from a few of the chapters, and hope that I pique your curiosity.

  • On the top of the rock, insignificant to anyone who didn’t understand, some previous passerby had placed a few broken cigarettes…that person had placed the sacred gift of tobacco on the rude image of the buffalo, and in doing so had paid homage to the animal.
  • You have to love your own people even if you hate what they do.
  • You’re writing a story about Indians. But you’re writing it like a white guy. You want everything all neat. Put it all in. Just write it the way it is.
  • You took the land and you turned it into property. Now our mother is silent. But we still listen for her voice. And here is what I wonder. If she sent diseases and harsh winters when she was angry with us, and we were good to her, what will she send when she speaks back to you?
  • You’re learning. I can tell because of your silence.
  • Before you wanted to make us you. But now you are unhappy with who you are, so you want to make you into us.
  • You are trying to learn. White people like to learn by asking questions.
  • If you had listened to us instead of trying to convert us and kill us, what a country this would be.
  • Keepers of the fire cannot be cowards. They are carrying light.
  • You tell us we have to elect a leader to represent us, and he has to represent us in everything. He is supposed to be wise about everything because he is responsible for everything. Even if we don’t want him to speak for us on some matter, he gets to because it says so in the constitution you made us write.
  • “She’s not one to mess with,” Delvin laughed… “Should’ve sicced them on the white man. You guys would’ve gone home in rowboats.”
  • You must forget yourself. You are not here for yourself. You are not here for me. This is Wounded Knee. You are standing on the grave.
  • Perhaps we had to return to the earth, so that we could grow within your hearts.
  • We are prisoners of our hearts, and only time will free us. Your people must learn to give up their arrogance. They are not the only ones placed on this earth.

If any of these strike a chord with you, buy this book, borrow this book, check it out of the library… anything to get your hands on it, and READ. If they don’t resonate with you, then pay no never-mind…you wouldn’t respect and appreciate what Nerburn and Dan have done anyways.