Banned Books Week: What subversives are you reading?

13 September 2011 by 422 Comments

Sex? Drugs? Non-white people??? I am so scandalized!

Firstly, I have to say that I am amazed that people are still fashed over The Color Purple and The Catcher in the Rye, but according to the ALA, both books made the top ten challenged books in 2009.  Also, can someone tell me why The Call of the Wild was banned/challenged?  Is there a human cannibalism scene that I don’t know about? (I never got around to reading Jack London, because I have a vagina.)

So, banned books week is nigh upon us; starting September 24 and ending October 1, it’s a supposedly naughty way to kick off the season of chills, thrills, and stuffing yourself to the gills.   My fellow bookslut is busily working on a piece about banned books that will be forthcoming sometime in the next century; I won’t indulge myself too much to opine here on the topic of banned books, except that, having looked at the lists that the ALA put out–all of the books I see on that list are books that take a naked look at humanity and its weaknesses, troubles, desires, and triumphs.  Why should Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston (one of my personal favorites) be a banned book? Because it acknowledges that sometimes men didn’t treat their wives so well, or because it features a large cast of African-American people?  (I suspect strongly that, while it’s both, it’s also very much the latter–there is a high proportion of banned literature by African-American novelists.)  Are The Grapes of Wrath and The Jungle taboo because they shine a light on the real struggles of the poor and working-class Americans?  Mental illness, women’s issues, sex, money, racism, equal rights–it’s not smut that is being consistently challenged, or things that are actually depraved.  I’ve read Chuck Palahniuk; if you want to talk about depravity, read Snuff sometime (you’ll regret it) and say that shouldn’t be on the list instead of Harry Potter if one has to make such a list.  Except for the stupid challenges to kid lit because it contains “occult” (cough) material, most of the banned books I see are ones that are replete with in-your-face-humanity, and for some reason, this frightens people.

Thanks to the ALA, even when people try to do stupid things like censoriously publish “new editions” of classics because they contain offensive words, we can be sure that our right to expression is not taken away by people who don’t realize that they can simply exercise their personal choice not to purchase or peruse a book that they deem scandalous.  Support your local librarians and libraries; even though I’m sure there is probably some sort of library appreciation holiday, to me, this is a very important time to be thankful for the hard work they do.  Maybe bake some muffins and take them to your local branch or donate to the ALA to help them keep attempts to take information away from us at bay.  Or just buy a ‘banned’ book; nothing like sticking it to the man by defying his so-called authority. How will you celebrate Banned Books Week?


Susie is the Bitch-in-Chief at IB and is also a contributor at Book Riot. She's an ice cream connoisseur, an art fanatic, a cat-mommy of three, and a wife. She runs the @thebooksluts Twitter account and may be slightly addicted.

422 thoughts on “Banned Books Week: What subversives are you reading?

  1. Snuff is really the only book I don’t like by Chuck Palahniuk. Sure, he should be banned, maybe… but he has taken literature to new places. Scary places, sure, but he breaks barriers. He makes you sympathize for despicable characters in horrifically disgusting situations. If you want to see the worst of it, read his short story “Guts” published in his collection Haunted. You can probably find it online, and it is the most cringe-inducing short stories ever; also, it is one of the best.

    • I don’t think Snuff or any book should be banned, for the record :D I just think it’s interesting that books like that don’t appear more often, because I would find it justifiable to keep it out of the reach of kids who aren’t old enough to watch R-rated films, unlike most books that are proposed to be banned.

    • “Sure, he should be banned, maybe…”

      I’m sorry – what?! Seriously? Guts is absolutely disgusting, I agree, and personally it’s not something I enjoy reading, but it’s a very long way from saying “I didn’t enjoy this” to “it should be banned”.

    • You make a good point. Banning books is ridiculous. I don’t know if the objective is clear, but it seems to stop younger audiences from getting their paws on material with profanity or obscene writing.

      Make no mistake, this decision should be “the readers”. I mean, it’s the same with movies and video games, and not all of that is banned. Its already hard getting people to read books with all the new formats like kindle and other apps.

      I’ve never noticed this “banning” before. i wonder how long this has been going on. :(

  2. I was very curious when you mentioned The Call of the Wild because, while I am sure there are a ton of themes I missed in it when I last read it as a kid, I can’t imagine it being all that controversial. So I looked it up. Turns out it was banned in Italy and Yugoslavia in 1929 and burned by the Nazis. Jack London was in favor of socialism, so that makes plenty of sense.

    I was not aware that the ALA’s list of banned books included bans such as this, I had always assumed it was a list of books currently considered to be banned by groups in the US. I followed the links to the ALA’s own page describing why books on the list were banned: which has some information on all of the books that are banned or challenged on the Radcliffe Publishing Course Top 100 Novels of the 20th Century list, most of them have been banned more recently, but there are a few that it seems were early 20th century bans, and at least one (The Call of the Wild) that wasn’t even a US ban.

    I’ve always had that outraged response of, “They shouldn’t ban books!” but I never really looked into it before, quite interesting. (I should feel bad since I have worked in a library and I did a semester of work on a Master of Information and Library Science degree. I should probably also feel bad because I’ve only read three books from the banned portion of that list: The Call of the Wild, Lord of the Rings, and 1984. I have attempted to read Ulysses but I wasn’t able to make it through the first few pages, what a tough read!)

    • Ah, okay, that makes more sense. I probably could have just looked it up, but then I wouldn’t have been able to include that quip about my genitals :D

      A lot of those books were attempted to be banned multiple times, as well . . . Call of the Wild, I think, is a bit of a fluke in that regard.

      Really, you’ve only read those three? I read Animal Farm, 1984, Catcher in the Rye, Lord of the Flies, The Great Gatsby, Of Mice and Men, Native Son, To Kill a Mockingbird, and Brave New World for English at my high school in good ol’ conservative Kentucky (ha! Bet you thought I was braggin’ . . . but no, it was forced reading. Not that I didn’t enjoy some of them). And I’m frankly shocked that On the Road, which I also read for a high school class, wasn’t on that list–it’s way more subversive than some of the other books.

      • My mom has never been a fan of classic literature, I think it had to do with how it was taught in the 1960s in her high school in South Carolina, being forced to read it and all, because she refused to “force” me to read things she hated and those included Of Mice and Men, The Great Gatsby, and Lord of the Flies. (I’m pretty sure it was more for that reason than that we were a conservative Christian family, but I’m sure if James Dobson told them that certain books were “evil” then we wouldn’t have been allowed to read them…)

        A friend recently got me into Hemingway, so I will probably read the two of his books that are on that list soon (considering they are also highly regarded Hemingway).

        I’m now exploring some of the other information on the ALA site, the statistics are very interesting and they offer a full list of banned or challenged books that aren’t just in the top 100 classics of the 20th century category. Quite interesting reading. Fahrenheit 451 is one of the top contested/banned books but it wasn’t on the top 100 best novels list, and I have read that.

        Also, looking at the full 100 Best Novels list, there are only four or five on there in addition to the banned ones that I’ve read (and they are mostly childrens books).

      • Ooh, I had forgotten you were homeschooled. That would explain why you weren’t forced to read classics along with the rest of us :D

        I’m not really a fan of reading classics for the sake of reading classics. Most of my teachers were bored out of their skulls teaching them, and some of the content of the books is way too “old” for kids (Lord of the Flies as a freshman? Please. I’ll probably never read it again, but I might have enjoyed it more when I cared about something other than going to lunch to talk to my friends and decorating my locker). So your mom did you a solid :D

      • She did, but it took me a while to get past the “I’ll hate this because it is obviously not very good” idea my mom planted in my head. But when I read things now I appreciate them more than I would have (though I was, admittedly, a pretty nerdy kid who read things most people his age wouldn’t have enjoyed, can’t think of specific examples right now, though. I also have a terrible memory.)

      • What!? Lord of the Flies and Call of the Wild are on the ALA banned book list! I read Lord of the Flies in my high school English class about two years ago. Sure, it was a little violent, but not ban worthy. It was meant to make a point about our society. I also read Call of the Wild when I was in seventh grade. I don’t see why it would be on the list either. So there are some sad parts in it and it doesn’t have a happy ending. News flash – not everything in life will have a happy ending. I think that some people don’t want to face up to the truth about life. I should read the list and see what other childhood books that I have read are on it. (By the way, sorry that the titles are not italicized. I could not figure out how to do it.)

        • Hey, no sweat on the italics–we’re not that formal ’round here. :D

          I know, right? I read Lord of the Flies my freshman year of high school. (If you scroll through the comments there is some explanation about Call of the Wild. I didn’t know, either!)

          Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

      • I just checked the list, and I have also read Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey. Both of them were for high school English classes, but I still enjoyed them (the first one in 10th grade and the other in 11th, which is secondary 4 and 5 in Quebec land). I can’t believe that they’re on the list.

      • At my good ol’ conservative high school in Kentucky, you could add Invisible Man, The Color Purple, Song of Solomon, Gone With the Wind, The Grapes of Wrath, In Cold Blood, The Awakening, and A Separate Peace to that list. I think Kentucky might have a network of subversive English teachers of which we’ve been heretofore unaware.

        • Very nice.

          I wonder if all English teachers–or most–might not be a little bit subversive just by way of being educated readers. Something to ponder.

    • I read Ulysses in college. Didn’t far along either. I figure the author, James Joyce, was writing about a Dublin-er thats all I can remember. Stream of consciousness style of writing. And didn’t one chapter or episode have no punctuation?

    • Troll Award

      Jack London

      I admire Jack London because he was good at trashing the “oily Jews”, calling them “sheeny shoe peddlers” and the like. Great stuff!

      As one of his characters proclaimed:

      “I for one won’t stand for a lot of…greasy Russian Jews tellin’ me how to run my country…”

      That’s the spirit!

      These scum-librarians ban London’s The Mutiny of the Elsinore, a prophetic novel about the survival of the Aryan in the face of the revolt of the world’s Untermenschen, led by The Jew. The blond Aryans are the heroic officer class, lording it over the darker breeds and the degenerates.

      Nice excerpt:

      “One more, sir, a sheeny. I didn’t know his name before, but Mr. Pike got it ‑‑ Isaac B. Chantz. I never saw in all my life at sea as many sheenies as are on board the Elsinore right now. Sheenies don’t take to the sea, as a rule. We’ve certainly got more than our share of them.”

      Ha! Brilliant!

      “Every one of us who sits aft in the high place is a blond Aryan. For’ard, leavened with a ten per cent of degenerate blonds, the remaining ninety per cent of the slaves that toil for us are brunettes. They will not perish . . . they will inherit the earth . . .
      “And I look at the four of us at the table ‑‑ Captain West, his daughter, Mr. Pike, and myself ‑‑ all fair‑skinned, blue‑eyed, and perishing, yet mastering and commanding, like our fathers before us, to the end of our type on the earth. Ah, well, ours is a lordly history, and though we may be doomed to pass, in our time we shall have trod on the faces of all peoples, disciplined them to obedience, taught them government, and dwelt in the palaces we have compelled them by the weight of our own right arms to build for us.”

      Sad, in retrospect, of course.

      “I knew the rightness of the books, the relation of high thinking to high conduct, the transmutation of midnight thought into action in the high place on the poop of a coal carrier in the year nineteen thirteen, my woman beside me, my slant‑eyed servitors under me, the beasts beneath me and beneath the heel of me. I knew at last the meaning of kingship.
      “My anger was white and cold. This subterranean rat of a miserable human, crawling through the bowels of the ship to threaten me and mine! A rat in the shelter of a knothole making a noise as beastlike as any rat ever made!”

      Yes. A true prophet.

      I despise London, of course, for his hatred of Christ, and for his relations with Jewesses.

      Still, I appreciate your concerns about combatting censorship, and thank you for helping to keep the best of London — his Teutonic race-consciousness — alive, to inspire future generations. I thank you. Sieg Heil!

  3. Great topic and commentary! I’m committed to purchasing 1 (at least) banned book this week at Half Priced Books…

    Also, sorry to cause your heart pains with our reference to Remains of the Day… The book definitely was’t bad, it just didn’t speak to me like his other two books I read! I know a lot of people LOVE “Remains” so maybe I need to give it another try.

    • Half Price Books is AMAZING. I buy so many awesome dollar books (William Shatner’s autobiography, whaaat!). I will match you and also buy (at least) one banned book.

      And it’s okay, it was a false alarm ;) As long as we agree that Ishiguro is amazing, I am ready and willing to be friends =D

  4. How awesome that banned book week is almost here and yesterday I picked up Alice Walker’s “You Can’t Keep A Good Woman Down” – collection of short stories. If it hasn’t been banned, I would guess it is because the banners were unaware, as it meets several of the criteria you mention above- written by an African American, deals with life plainly and is written from non-dominate socioeconomic perspective. Oh yea, and it covers abortion and porn. Yay!

    • Oh, that’s definitely ban-material right there. It’s not just written by an African-American, but an African-American woman! (gasp) Maybe the banning committees saw the title and thought of a woman in the kitchen with an apron baking cookies ;)

    • I’m glad you’re inspired! I have some favorites on the ‘banned’ lists, as well. I’m actually kind of hurt that On the Road isn’t on the list, as well, because I love that book. (I guess it’s because Kerouac himself was a conservative :P)

      • Sorry, no hard data. But don’t you think attention spans have been getting shorter in recent decades, with the nature of electronic media and lack of leisure time? Controlling for things like wealth, education, & such, ask a sample of 60 year-olds and a sample of 30 year-olds how many books they’ve read in the last year.

      • I have no doubt that there are fewer readers than there used to be, just because people before who would grudgingly read for entertainment now have a lot of other options. But there are still a lot of people who don’t just love to read, they NEED to read ;)

        The paper book may be slowly on its way out, that remains to be seen, but I think writing as an art form will survive.

      • Notice that I said “books”, not “writing”. I’m thinking of a “book” as something that takes at least several hours to read, and doesn’t have pieces that are coherent wholes in themselves.

      • Oh, please don’t tell me that the conversation is going to turn into this kind of conversation, where we nit-pick each other to death. I seriously can’t take a conversation like that today. Catch me on another day, then maybe; this, though, is casual writing, not formal arguing.

        Writing as an art form includes writing novels. There are some really superb novelists who are currently alive, working, and have giant fan bases–thanks to being able to grow and maintain one’s own fan base with the internet, which makes one more attractive to publishers, there may be more good working novelists right now than any other point in history.

      • But look at historically how many people in the population have been readers (not the majority), and yet the book survived all those thousands of years. It may not be the industry it was during the 20th century, but the book is not on the way out, IMHO.

      • I dont see paper books on the way out myself, they are still too convenient and user-friendly – and cheap – compared w/ anything else…and yes, there will always be readers, they may read junk a lot of the time, but they still read…the only thing I see being phased out is the hardback…too expensive, too bulky, and not as easily replaced as a paperback, either mass-market or trade…

      • Hardback won’t be phased out, it just won’t be as common for the non-collector type. I have been buying exclusively hardbacks lately. I like the way the feel, the way the last. Pulp paperbacks tend to degrade after a decade or two, Forty years and they are useless since they aren’t printed on acid-free papers.

      • I think it’s worth noting that for those of us who write in English, the number of people around the world who speak and read English continues to grow. I see myself having millions of potential readers that writers just a few decades ago didn’t have.

    • your mass-market is like that, but not so much your trade-paper…they’re very sturdy and can last if you mostly refrain from using them as a football, and it really depends on the press from which the book is printed, if you buy trade-papers from an indie publisher, you’ll get your acid-free paper and some really amazing artwork…and by phased out I didnt necessarily mean ‘gone from the landscape’, and I would only say that for fiction…nonfiction is another animal altogether…

      but (grins) I’ve read my share of hardbacks to rags, and yes, I replaced them w/ a trade-paperback……

  5. Excellent post and congrats on the FP. I’m actually working in a library, so we use Banned Books week every year to get kids a bit more interested in reading. Some of my personal favorites which I found on the list this year: The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Going Bovine, The Hunger Games (too bloody violent, you know.) And there’s always Harry Potter to put the born-agains in a start. And there’s quite a few of them where I live. Bravo!

    • You have a sweet job :D I wish I worked in a library. I guess as long as books don’t actually GET banned, this whole stigma thing could be great for reading–kids always want to do what they’re not supposed to do, after all!

  6. I recently read a short experimental novel by Urs Allemann called “Babyfucker.” Interesting book, though definitely not for most people. (Yes, it is about a man who has sexual relations with infants. Deal with it.)

    I have yet to see it mentioned on any banned books list. Must be OK to read!

    • No attempts to censor the Babyfucker here. Especially since it’s not banned, right? :)

      In all seriousness, I probably wouldn’t choose to read it, but I don’t see why people get up in arms about fiction. Even pedo fiction–reading doesn’t turn people into pedophiles. Or serial killers or sex maniacs. Or wizards that one might be true ;)

  7. I don’t understand why people ban so many books there in the States. Where I live, Portugal, banned books aren’t an issue, since it’s impossible to ban books. If a parent as an issue with a book that’s being read in the classroom he/she may talk to the teacher, and try to make an arrangement for his/her kid not to read the book but, he/she can never stop a book of being read in the classroom or make the book disappear from the school library.
    Many of the subjects you refer on your post (sex/race/…) and some other as well are in the books that are mandatory reads from Portuguese students. These mandatory reads as the name says are obligatory for all students in the whole country and if they don’t read them they will have a hard time in the exam.
    I think parents should be attentive to what their kids read,and talk to them about it but they should never ban a book.

    • Many Americans feel the same way. :) And a follow-up post from my co-blogger is coming soon to explain that there really aren’t any “banned” books in the U.S.–even if a library or a school library tries to “ban” the book from their establishment or from a school, they’re easy enough to obtain through other avenues if you have the means to purchase a book.

      I, myself, had several “banned” books on my reading list in school. It’s not a country-wide phenomenon, it’s usually local governments trying to do the banning.

      • Yes, thankfully we don’t live in Italy of the early 20th century where one could have The Call of the Wild banned because it was written by a socialist. Or in Russia of the mid 20th century where various composers, authors, artists, and genres of artistic expression were banned (or Germany, or China). As interesting as 20th century music can be, that was always a very depressing time in music history class since all these different governments through most of the 20th century wanted to shut somebody up who wanted to express themselves.

  8. Some of the torture/murder scenes in American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis almost made me throw up. Other than that it was a pretty boring book. I’m against banning books as well, but if it’s going to happen, maybe books should be banned for sucking instead of controversial issues.

  9. I’m re-reading Margaret Lawrence’s “The Diviners”, which was banned in many Canadian school libraries because of the phrase “two flies fucking” during a young girls description of the room she sits in.

    Canada, you know, has a much bigger problem with censorship than the States. It’s terrible. We’re supposed to be this forward-thinking nation which offers humanitarian aid and participates in peace-keeping missions all around the world, and yet we still believe it is okay to control access to thought.


    • I’m sorry to hear about that in Canada :| I didn’t realize censorship was such a huge issue there. I’m hoping that as our relatively-young countries grow, we’ll grow out of this whole attempted-though-control nonsense–otherwise, we’ll have to start learning phrases like “War is Peace,” “Freedom is Slavery,” “Ignorance is Strength” . . . . (aren’t they already teaching the latter here in America??)

    • No reason to stop at just one! ;-) Banned books are like Lays, you can’t eat just one–or something like that. Not that I advocate eating books. Even though they might be a decent source of fiber.

      • I’ll just admit that was an attempt at an Eric Cartman esque “Warped my fragile little mind” that didn’t work.

        But I do remember a sense of shock and exhilaration when reading it – “You can write that? Really? Wow” – opened up so much. My sense of plot and narrative has never been the same. Probably the first time (along with Brautigan’s Trout Fishing in America) I saw plot and narrative fractured, broken and never put back together. Thats been a major influence on me and led to other writers such as Cortazar (who is now my favourite writer, with no close second).

        However at university I had to read Dennis Cooper (Frisk and Closer). They did mess with me (Closer inparticular). I remember dry heaving over a bin. Wouldn’t censor it though. Ever.

  10. Jack London was not just in favor of socialism: he was a full-fledged socialist. But I don’t think Call of the Wild was ever banned in the United States, just certain parts of Europe. The reason for its banning had to do with the author’s politics more than anything else.

  11. I find all this “banned books” talk disingenuous and something of a bait and switch. First, no one’s really being persecuted in the US for these books. Second, the reasons books are “banned” vary extensively. I can agree that some censure is stupid but some makes sense. It’s apples and oranges. It’s not all or nothing. Finally, what we have today is not people being prevented from reading things that are deemed objectionable so much as people (whether adults or parents of minors) who should have the right to “ban” books if they want to, within their legitimate sphere of responsibility and personal choice. Please consider related comments on last year’s banned book hype:

      • (grins) yerse…I’ll be doing part two…my theme will be something along the lines of; Can We Get a Grip, Please? which coincides w/ some of your thoughts, stoicdad…

    • Does that mean you write a …. banned blog?!?!?!

      Usually I delete links that are irrelevant to the topic at hand–such as the Newberry Library Book Sale is not relevant to banned books ;)–but I’m gonna let it go this time. But I’m onto you. *wags finger*

  12. I really liked your post, and appreciate your views. I think you’re right on the money when you said that anything that delves into the stark realities of the human condition is under attack. “Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” and “Huckleberry Finn” are two more you can mention, and whatever your views toward the Bible may be, no one can deny the siege which it’s been under since it’s very inception.

    People from the very beginning have always tried to destroy what they don’t understand, or appreciate. Those kind of people promote their views from naivete and ignorance, but the ones who concern me more are those who do understand and intentionally try to subvert stated points of view as a way to manipulate and sway societal opinion in pursuit of their own agendas.

    We must understand that if we are to live in a (so called) enlightened society it is our duty as well as our responsibility to fight censorship wherever and whenever we come across it. People, at least, in this country have a guaranteed freedom to learn, and express their views in a responsible, intelligent, and sincere manner that can and should be of benefit to all. How can people do that if we’re only allowed to see what others want us to see? Living in any sort of society where people are exposed to truth that has been cut, chopped and shredded, and put back together again by those who want to define it are worse than traitors, and put all great societies at risk.

    Books, all books, by their very nature are the keys which unlock the doors to freedom and liberty, showing us by their very content the things that not only benefit, but harm us as well. Thankfully, there are people such as yourself and others who think as you do about books.

    • Thanks for your comments! I did sort-of mention Huckleberry Finn ;-) (being the book that people republished because it had controversial language, hmph).

      I agree with you about people who try to ‘ban’ books because they contain viewpoints that don’t support their own agendas. I find it most worrisome.

  13. Congrats on Freshly Pressed! I am an avid reader anyway, but it definitely did help the fact that a book was “banned” to make you want to read it more…that’s definitely what got me to read The Catcher in the Rye. I have read quite a few, though, and mostly on my own, like The Great Gatsby, The Color Purple, Brave New World, 1984, Animal Farm, To Kill a Mockingbird, Catch-22, etc. Most of them are excellent books, and I think that if more people read these classics and became more well-rounded, all around knowledgeable people, the world would actually be a better place.

  14. This isn’t banned – not in most places anyhow – but if you are a slut and you love to read, you have to read this: [link redacted]

    I don’t ordinarily post anything that gets caught by the spam filter, but this made me laugh. Hard. –GGG

  15. Zora Neale Hurston and her wonderful “Their Eyes Were Watching God” was chastised by the Harlem Renaissance establishment because she was, hold on to your chair; a political conservative! She wrote for the National Review and other political conservative journals. As such she was chastised. Her life was sad. She died in poverty and was buried in an unmarked grave. Political vindictiveness cuts many ways. A true classic, book and woman.

  16. When I was in school Moby Dick was banned. And they banned To Kill a Mockingbird because it didn’t teach the values that the school upheld. You know, fighting for the rights of the minority even though racists try to turn you to the darkside.

      • I probably should’ve done a bit more reading before I posted. Did I read correctly that people not only try to shield their children’s from humanity in schools but want these books removed from public libraries as well? And possibly remove them from the market as well?
        I have a ton of the classic books on the list and this may give me that little nudge to pick one up and read it finally. So many books to choose, and I am a slow reader so I really have so little time.

      • I’m sure that the kind of people who would move to have books removed from any shelves would try to get them removed from every shelf. They’ve already crossed the major moral line, so why not go all the way?

        What classics are you looking to pick up? ^_^

      • I am a little curious about about The Awakening, The Naked and the Dead, and Tropic of Cancer. So I have a couple I could buy. But I have a few on the list I haven’t read and have been thinking about reading To Kill a Mockingbird again. So I do have my choices. I just need to narrow it down. Buy some banned books and read a banned book sounds like a good course of action.

  17. I just finished Tropic of Cancer. It was banned for nearly 30 years in the U.S. The book is filled with lice, fleas, cockroaches, bedbugs, drinking, smoking, STDs, prostitutes, and proofreaders in Paris. Miller criticizes writers, philosophers, and society in general. Despite the subject matter, it was lots of fun.

  18. More recent disputes over Jack London’s writing were due to his inability to keep his foot out of his mouth on issues of race – named as resonsible for coining the phrases ‘The Yellow Peril’ and ‘Great White Hope’ – even in regard to congratulating the winner of a boxing match, felt he had to include the phrase ‘…Even if the better man is black’.


    Apologies if I’ve just taken someone else’s thunder, I think I read all the comments above :)

    Back to the subject though, I’m currently reading Lady Chatterley’s Lover, banned in the past century for containing full-frontal Yorkshire accents. I watched the French version on TV not long ago and couldn’t stop laughing. I need to get out more and stay away from books and TV…

    • The great thing about books is that they are portable.. (grins) they will follow you no matter how far out you go.

      That’s interesting about Jack London. I don’t believe anybody had mentioned that in the comments before you. The plot thickens!

      • I think the critics took London’s personal views – which were pretty strong, he wrote articles with a direct anti-immigrant worker message, and forefronted the ‘Great White Hope’ campaign (to find a white pugilist he hoped would be capable of defeating a black boxing champion), and story analysts were concerned that ‘The Call Of The Wild’ was a metaphor for the white man’s tolerance in society of the ‘wild beast’ that turned up in ‘his’ domain, and racial tensions between the two.

        But looking into the way Jack London consistently upset the racial tolerance applecart in his everyday life, I don’t think the man was necessarily capable of weaving a metaphor, when his media article catchphrases were as subtle as a housebrick.

  19. I just checked the ALA site to pick a book from their list of frequently banned books. The list for 2010 has The Hungers Games on it, and I’ve been intending to read that. Then again, I have been wanting to read more classics such as Animal Farm and Catch-22 as well. So many books, too little time…

  20. Tell you what I’ve got in my collection that’s banned in Europe, but not in the US or where I live in New Zealand. Hitler’s ‘Mein Kampf’. I picked it up in a second hand bookshop, partly for the novelty value, partly because it complemented my collection of Churchill’s histories. But unlike Churchill’s books, it took me a while to read any of ‘Mein Kampf’. And I never did finish it. Why? The merest glance reveals it’s utterly, utterly mad.

    It’s so mad that I have to ask why it’s still banned in Europe. I mean, Hitler was a dangerous lunatic, the book reads that way, and nobody in their right mind could imagine otherwise. I can’t see any chance of this book being taken credibly – it’s simply the early-1920s rantings of an obsessive and insane ideologue with political ambition, who’d been further damaged on the Western Front. Very much a period piece, and probably essential reading for anybody trying to understand the ‘why’ of the Second World War. In it, Hitler signalled his intention to proceed with the worst evil in the history of the world. As I say – mad (and why didn’t anybody notice until it was too late?)

    The comparison with Winston Churchill’s clear, sensible and sane books is clear. And yet ‘Mein Kampf’ is still banned in Europe to this day. Banned. The irony? My edition is the English version published openly in the US in 1943! A case, I think, of know thine enemy. I hope that the author did not receive a royalty for it.

    Matthew Wright

  21. Oh! I think… nothing like a banned tittle or author to convert them in best-sellers. Did you see?
    But they came late, I read those books years ago. May be I will celebrate this week sending to ALA some fresh tittles to ban.

    PS: I dind’t know about that week. I have to read more news, I guess :-|

  22. There are some banned books here in my country. I don’t even know why they are banned. and instead of ignoring that, I’m kinda curious and challenged to get those books and read them. Tho it might not that easy. Have you read The Call of the Wild? I think I have a PDF copy of it.

    • Good job, Decci–don’t let the man get you down! What country are you from, if you don’t mind my asking? And also maybe some of the titles, if you don’t mind saying so?

      Rock on, my fellow subversive.

  23. who really has the ability to “ban” a book? is it up to each individual library? is it up to the publishers? as for “the grapes of wrath,” i think it was on that list because of the ending, when the old man is starving to death and a woman finds an unusual way of feeding him. i won’t state it because it might be a spoiler. or maybe i already said too much.

    there was a stephen king book that was banned not because of what was in it but because of the reaction. it featured a boy who brought a gun to school and held a class hostage. it begat copycat incidents of high school students doing the same thing. i think the publisher voluntarily pulled it off the market.

    • The other bookslut is going to be addressing the veracity of “banned” books in an upcoming post–in an effort not to step on her toes, I will wait for her post ^_^

      Yeah, that’s one of the Bachman books–Rage. It’s back in print now–or at least, it was back in print, I used to own it.

  24. There’s still some classics I need to read from the frequently banned list. A few are on my shelves that I’m wanting to read again so I might spend Banned Books Week doing just that. Lord of the Rings? They considered it satanic? From a Christian author?

    I don’t see why Call of the Wild should be on that list.

  25. kick ass post! i’m thinking i should go with “and tango makes three” simply because it’s been on the banned list for a few years now.

    you’d think that the powers that be would have figured out by now that banning books only makes people want to read them more, by virtue of whatever rule it is that you always want what you can’t have. ah well.

  26. what if someone wrote a book full of falsehoods that were fabricated to support the idea that racism is a good thing? what if they wrote about every ethnic group – other than caucasian – and used lies to craft a case to support violence against minorities? would free speech protect that, or would it be banned?

  27. Pingback: The Dangers of Children’s Lit… « myladyphoenix

  28. I used to teach “Catcher in the Rye” and I never once dealt with irate parents or students. In fact, most of my students preferred it over all other novels they’d read and the bad language and questionable content only made it more interesting and “real”. I teach in Canada, and maybe that makes a difference, but I can’t believe some of the books that the ignorant and illiterate seem to think must be banned.

    Great post. Kudos on being Freshly Pressed.

  29. I have read all ten of the top ten books on the list, and had no idea it was banned book week. So as to what I will do with this special time? I think I will read them all again.
    By the by – great site!

  30. When I was in high school, students were routinely assigned a book called “Fools Crow” by local author named James Welch. Right before I was about to take the class that handed out that assignment, a group of parents protested the book and were successful in banning it from our curriculum as well as our library. Of course, this did nothing but pique my interest, so I read it anyway. It is actually a wonderfully written story. As hard as I tried, the only thing I could come up with as to why they got their panties in such a wad over this book, is a short scene describing a rape. It’s so sad to me that kids from my high school won’t experience that book because some parents decided that our library needed “sanitizing”. So, I may re-read that book in honor of banned book week.

  31. I actually took a class in college called “Banned in Boston”, where we read previously banned works – everything from “Huck Finn” to Whitman. But we ended with ‘Naked Lunch” by William Burroughs, and that is one messed up book – basically one long drug trip. But it still shouldn’t be banned. No books should be banned – unless they’re spewing unbelievable extreme amounts of hate. Freedom of speech, right?

      • No books should be banned – unless they’re spewing unbelievable extreme amounts of hate. ”

        As I say below, you weaken your case ag. censorship by advocating any at all. Let it all hang out and let the conversation begin. People can figure out right from wrong without do-gooder interference.

      • I agree with you–even hate-filled books shouldn’t be banned. Although that doesn’t stop privately-owned publishers from deciding not to put them out into the world.

        I’m not sure why you’re attributing that quote to me, since I didn’t write this one. ^_^

  32. Don’t people still not understand that banning a book will only increase its attraction? Banning a book to me sounds like banning thoughts and thought control, Orwellian :-)

  33. Great stuff about banned books — and I really like that you mentioned supporting libraries and librarians. My family and I love going to libraries and soaking in all of the potential reading there. Yep, we’re all book geeks. And I’ve completely enjoyed many books that you’ve mentioned as being banned. “Their Eyes Were Watching God” to “Lord of the Flies” to “Tropic of Cancer” to “Catcher in the Rye” were all powerful books that moved me. Thank goodness the authors didn’t pull punches to bring their books down to a PG or even G level. I love that we have a Banned Books Week! Yes!

  34. Not sure if any books are banned here in the UK, but I have read the book of a film that was banned here. The Clockwork Orange was banned by the director Stanley Kubrick himself in the UK because it seemed to provoke a copycat reaction.
    Interesting that they didn’t bother to ban the book, because as it was written in it’s own language of sorts, it wasn’t terribly accessible to those people who were causing the trouble in the first place. To read the book took a certain degree of commitment and patience, but it was well worth the effort in my opinion as it really immersed you into that otherworldly feel of the book.
    The book ( as is often the case) was far better than the film, although I rate the film highly as a very stylish creative piece of art. The political message within the book wasn’t as clearly portrayed in the film.
    I’d say the same about One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest too.

    • Interesting that A Clockwork Orange was banned by Kubrick himself–that seems like something he’d do, though! And the film used to be a lot more controversial . . . it was rated X when it came out, I believe.

  35. Ban books? Does that still happen? Sad. Ban just one and we’re on our way to banning everything (Fahrenheit 451 scares me more than Chucky). But, alas, I know it happens, even in open minded worlds. I am off to buy some books right now!

    • Quite frankly, it doesn’t surprise me that people still have issues with certain books–I mean, with the recent rise of certain political factions that seem like they’d have the bonfire ready . . . .

      Buying books sounds like an excellent idea!

      • It turned out to be a nice gold mine of books. Picked up a few, especially one I was going to buy before, for 2 dollars. That made me smile. As for banned books, this retailer, a large country chain, respects banned books. The youngster at the cash had to no idea who makes the decision nor could even say she knew of any titles. But, she was very troubled about this, if its banned I could not order it there. I took a step away from the counter wondering if she was about to summons the local book bully’s. Now I am even more curious. Think I will call the local school board and see what books are banned, if they keep a list of such. Cheers and keep reading.

  36. Great post. I think a book being banned is usually a good sign. It means that it has touched a nerve and made some headway in rattling the cage of the establishment. It is my greatest ambition as a writer to author a banned book one day…

  37. Years ago, when the ALA issued their “Banned Books” list, they included why the books were challenged. They had to stop publishing those details because it was obvious that they were mislabeling the objections. What they treated as some kind of radical desire to burn books was in most cases a parent objecting to the age-appropriateness of the book for use in their child’s classroom. I remember one example of a teacher reading aloud a gang-rape scene to a fifth-grade class. When a parent complained that her child was disturbed and made uncomfortable by the reading, the incident became part of the ALA list. That’s what parents do – they look out for their kids. Apparently, the ALA objects to that.

  38. It’s kind of late for book-banning, if you ask me. Then again, that’s what happens when you live in an age of massive digital information, and anyone who wants to read a ‘banned’ book would have next to no problems doing so.

    That being said, I haven’t read anything recently that I can recall being controversial with these groups, and the weirdest thing I’ve been working through are the works of E.T.A. Hoffmann. I highly doubt anyone’s going to go after him at this point.

  39. I will re-read “The Higher Power of Lucky,” which was removed from many schools in the US due to the main character, a little girl, using the word “scrotum.” It went on to win many awards, and is a seriously good, though short, read.

  40. “say that shouldn’t be on the list instead of Harry Potter if one has to make such a list.”

    When you’re sticking up for freedom of speech and freedom to read or write, advocating ANYthing be censored weakens your case considerably.

    I am proud to say I’ve been banned in Canada, because of an essay analyzing women’s sexual “daddy” fantasies published in an anthology of banned writings.Think I’ll go find it in my messy uncensored shelves and re-read it to celebrate subversive book week! Thanks for the reminder.

    • I am not advocating that anything be censored. You should have taken a moment to read the comments:

      “I don’t think Snuff or any book should be banned, for the record :D I just think it’s interesting that books like that don’t appear more often, because I would find it justifiable to keep it out of the reach of kids who aren’t old enough to watch R-rated films, unlike most books that are proposed to be banned.”

      But thanks for stopping by and commenting :)

  41. Nice post. I too am amazed at the fact that after certuries and decades certain books like The Color Purple and The Catcher in the Rye are still on the top of the lists of banned books! Well, I’m looking forward to highlighting some of our banned books via display in the coming weeks.

  42. Hell yeah to sticking it to the man! Great post! If we really allow true “freedom of the press” nothing should be banned. Sure there are going to be books, essays, articles, etc. out there that you don’t agree with but no one has the right to censor anyone else. Everyone has the right to say what they choose and like you said, more people should realize that they can exercise their right to not support a piece of literature by not purchasing/reading it instead of trying to ban everyone from obtaining it. So silly!

  43. Pingback: Banned Books Week: What subversives are you reading? (via Insatiable Booksluts) | not-a-wild-child

  44. I wish they’d ban my books, then maybe I’d get more readers. :) Isn’t Huckleberry Finn on that list? Crazy stuff like that? I haven’t read the list lately. I don’t think any books should be banned. Let the readers decide what they want.

  45. greetings from Cornwall, UK!
    firstly, i have to say that whilst i was at secondary school (11- 16yrs old), in our English Lit. class we studied the lord of the rings, of mice and men and animal farm. i have read and own the cathcher in the rye and i must admit that after reading it i felt this strange urge to ……..yawn. but nothing more dramatic than that ;)
    i can understand why a government would want to ban 1984- just in case people realised that it was a blueprint for the future(?)
    to be honest, i would never let a regulation stop me from reading, but that doesnt mean i will read anything. it’s about personal choice. if a book that is pornography is banned, i wouldn’t read it anyway, as pornography just doesnt appeal to me (anymore). the issue as i see it is that degrading pornography ( i do feel that theres a distinction) doesnt get banned, whilst books that deal with political freedom or important civil liberties do. i think that says a lot about the regulatory body that deals with censorshit.
    i enjoyed your post, 5*

  46. Coming from a country that for many years forbid so many books and as well, will warrant the arrest of anyone possessing a forbidden book (mostly far left socio-political material). I should be given a Lifetime Sentence for all I’ve read!
    I’d say, freedom of reading is a fact in this country. I bet most forbidden books are self forbidden rather than having the police seeking for those who merchandize them or buy them. This starting from the publisher, chain vendors and small book stores to the reader. Banning some literature at schools I suppose should be subject to negotiation between teachers and parents. Gosh! Lord of the Flies, which I voluntarily read . . . ouch!
    I want to respond to your excellent comment with an analogous joke. Forget me for doing so.
    An old lady called the police to denounce a “flasher” outside her home. The police showed up at her place and asked her where is the flasher? We see nothing. She takes them to her 2nd story floor, points a window and says: there, you can see him. The policeman looks through the window and says: Mom, I see nothing! The old lady pulls a chair, jumps into it and says: See? he’s there! The policeman climbs the chair and sees a naked man on his lounge chair in his backyard. Go figure!
    I know, dry humor but I believe some people with the power to decide who and what to ban, do exactly the very same. Perhaps like the old days of Comstock and the sex inquisition.
    Freedom is freedom and when hypocrisy hits home, we should make our voice heard. I don’t read what I don’t care for and I know well what all that is. If someone tells me I can’t read something, I will simply get it and read it in the comfort of my lounge chair and that’s it! But trust me, no nudity involved!
    I fully agree with you, no book should be forbidden and much less banned. BTW, Fahrenheit 451 originally was banned in my country! Therefore took years to get translated. I read it in English (which was lousy then) and I fell in love w/it!

  47. Did you read about the girl that had a banned book library in her locker in private high school? The only book she was missing was the Bible, with all its sex, incest, violence, slavery, and mass murder.

  48. Pingback: Southern California city bans the Merriam-Webster Dictionary – Harry Potter and Twilight facing the book burning match elsewhere – Maya Angelou books already aflame… « Angrywoodchuck's Blog

  49. I was hitchhiking in Oregon about a month ago and I was watching C-SPAN in a motel room. They were interviewing this author who wrote about Harriet Beecher Stowe’s “Uncle Tom’s Cabin”. He described “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” as a subversive book. He also said that “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” may be the most influential book in American history.

    I had a book published in 2008: [title redacted: this is our comments section, not advertising space–GGG]. I don’t think it is subversive.

  50. Pingback: Southern California city bans the Merriam-Webster Dictionary – Harry Potter and Twilight facing the book burning match elsewhere – Maya Angelou books lighting up the night sky… « Angrywoodchuck's Blog

  51. I couldn’t agree more. No one should ever have the authority to cut access to books, no matter the content. If people don’t like what’s written in a particular book, they just need to put it down and go back to their small, safe and boring lives. Now if you’ll excuse me, I gotta go finish up the last chapter of this necronomicon book I found. All that Latin makes for a slow read…

  52. I have a vagina, and I read Jack London as a kid cause I love puppies….

    There is a good deal of murder in Call of the Wild, maybe that’s it. Or people don’t like the idea that we all have a wilder nature?

  53. I’m glad you posted this, I had no idea books like these were being “Banned”. It’s not right!
    Speaking as an author, (though as of yet, unpublished) I don’t believe any book should be banned. The reason, as I see it, for books looking at human nature to be banned is fear. Fear that people will think for themselves for once and not be hearded like cattle.
    I mean, which childhood classic is next? Narnia? Because it’s based on the Bible? LOTR for “violence”? Or even something as harmless as Ella Enchanted, because it shows a young girl running away from a bording school?
    Sorry if I’m ranting. This is just one of the subjects that really gets my blood boiling. As I said earlier, thank you for bringing this to light.

  54. Reading William Carlos Williams’ –Spring and All–, which was confiscated and burned upon publication and not republished until 1970.

  55. Still a difficult pill to swallow for some today, my favorite banned book is Lolita by Nabokov. His prose in English as a second language is more refined than mine will ever be as a first language. Definitely a disturbing premise, but written as such an eloquent love story. Ironic prose at its best!

      • Lolita is one of my absolute favourite books, I love the way it challenges the reader.

        I think I’ve read quite a few “banned” books and all of them have been awesome so I may have to read the rest (maybe leaving out Twilight – I just can’t face the thought of all those damned (literally) angsty teens).

        Oh, and even more impressive, Vladimir Nabokov was writing in his THIRD language (Russian then French)! Almost makes you want to hate him.

  56. Pingback: Random Core Sample From the Blog Pond « toriaezu

  57. No way any book should be banned, or burned, or the author’s original (n-)words changed to make it more palatable to someone somewhere who is too lazy to a)read the books in the first place and b)monitor what their own kids are reading in the second place. If I’m concerned about something my grandkids want to read, I read it first or we read it together, so we can talk about it.
    More and more, the “Most Banned Books” list is looking like the “Books You’ve Just Got to Read!” list.

    • Random fact from my old college days: When the publishers got their hands on Emily Dickinson’s work they didn’t publish it in the order she had arranged and bound it, dismissing her abilities to know what she was doing. Isn’t it odd how comfortable editors are with slashing writing to shreds? Try that with someone’s painting–I dare ’em.

      • Ooh, that would drive me up the wall. Even if I were published posthumously (should I ever be published at all, ahem), I would come back from the grave to deal some disrespected author zombie justice if that ever happened to me.

  58. I always despised the idea of banning books and to be honest, I’m going to buy a bunch of banned books and lead a literature rebellion! :D Seriously though, I love this post, very insightful. I’ll definitely buy something that has been banned.

  59. I was semi-educated by Catholic nuns. Anything that was banned or considered against what they thought was proper, I read. I learned more wandering through Catcher in the Rye and Steinbeck than I could reading the books that they thought were necessary to be a good drone. Censorship of literature is just the first step on the way to mind control. Read what is to your liking. We need people to question authority. It keeps them honest.

  60. Pingback: Reading ‘Trash’ – Why I love Banned Books Week « lourdesacevedo

  61. A most excellent post. I will be making a pilgrimage to San Francisco this weekend and going to a reading of banned books at the San Francisco Public Library. Much love and solidarity. Cheers! Lourdes

  62. Congrats on FP! Let’s hope that this blog never ends up on the ten most banned blog’s that should never be read. On the other hand, that might actually work out better for you. It would make you immortal among bloggers.
    Thanks for this.

  63. What is so scary to the ALA and up-tight pricks about controversial books is not what they contain, but what they represent. Reading is an act of free-will and it challenges the status quo. If it inspires you to think for yourself, then watch out, the thinking police no longer have a hold on you! I encourage everyone to read subversive material…its good for society.

  64. LOL!!! I love it! Congrats on being Freshly Pressed. You go girrrlz!!! I’m going to celebrate Banned Books week by “sticking it to the man” and buy a banned book or two. I’m a big fan of great literature, so the more the merrier.

  65. To answer your (rhetorical?) question about Their Eyes Were Watching God, I think it’s the very, very thinly veiled masturbation scene that probably earned it “challenged” accolades. The notion that women are capale of manufacturing theri own good time (often better than their bumbling and/or abusive male counterparts) is apparently quite scandalous and/or offensive. Imagine! Just think if Janey had had a Shower Massager…

  66. Could not have put it better myself. Amazing article. Part of my family will not let my younger cousins read Harry Potter because they HEARD that it deals with satanic references. We (meaning my extended family) are conservative catholic MEXICANS so I do not think I have to explain any further than that.

  67. Thanks for bringing this to my attention! I looked through the Banned Books Week website and added some things to my to-read list, but I was really surprised at how many I’d already read. I guess controversy cuts both ways–it results in extreme actions like banning but also makes a lot of people curious, generates acclaim for being challenging, etc. In any case, I’m looking forward to participating! :)

  68. Pingback: The Wildest Freedom, a Rhyme for the Banned « letterperfectcopyediting

  69. Your vagina doesn’t represent the rest of us vaginas. I read “Call of the Wild” early, when I was like 11 or 12, and I chose it myself because it was about dogs. I luuuurved animals. I remember it was sad. But I don’t remember being too devastated by the book. Old Yeller affected me more.

    • Well, they say every one is different ;-)

      I’m not much on wilderness books at all, actually, or animal books. But I also don’t like chick-lit that much (Jen Lancaster being a notable exception). So I’m kind of a wild vagina, I guess :D

  70. Excellent post! Where I live, the librarians prefer bagels & lox to muffins, so I might bring some by tomorrow afternoon.

    I loved your writing style here. Such great description, and elegant rhyming at the beginning of the second paragraph. Check out my discussion of your post at

    Also, for a middle school project, I did some research on why Jack London’s books were banned. London was a social Darwinist and it really comes out in some of his works (“The Sea Wolf” is a good example). Some countries have banned his books because they didn’t want people being exposed to social Darwinism. As much as I despise the movement, his writing is nonetheless excellent and it’s a shame to see him banned.

      • I think some of his writings were banned on-and-ff in the states. Maybe because he got on Teddy Roosevelt’s nerve a little too much and, well, we Americans just like Mr. Teddy Bear more than we do our authors! Call in the Wild’s tame though compared to some of his other stories.

        Still, I seem to recall Yugoslavia banning everything he wrote!

  71. Bravo for this post!! I love how you tell the truth about the banned books. The truth either sets poeple free or it offends; the fact that most banned books are truthful about our social ills just goes to show how many people read to be entertained and that’s why the books store shelves are teeming with fluff.

  72. Didn’t realize some of these books were banned. Some were part of our high school curriculum and I am betting the non-readers in the class would have been more interested had they known this! Gee, books I was reading for amusement were far worse than any of them too…
    The banning of books is more of an insight into those doing the banning than a comment on the books being banned. Harry Potter? I mean, really?

  73. i don’t believe books should be banned either but i do wonder why we only have that extreme. someone in your comments compared it to parental controls, and maybe there should be some sort of rating system on some of the teen fiction. or, rather, maybe parents should get a clue and be more actively involved.

    i’m speaking, in particular, about these teen fiction books by v.c. andrews (the most famous of which is “flowers in the attic”) and they are disgusting. i mean, really trashy. in one, for example, a girl is raped by her father (step-father?) and “cleansed” by her mother – forced to bathe rather explicitly and in boiling water where her skin is literally scrubbed off. when i was a pre-teen, all of my friends were reading them. i read two and then happily returned to madeline l’engle and anne of green gables.

    but years later, when i worked at barnes and noble, they resurfaced in my life – they were still popular with the tweens! i would constantly see parents buying their eleven and twelve year old girls these books, and though i felt quite intrusive, i would HAVE TO casually mention that they might want to read through them before they let their little girls read them, garnering myself some much deserved glaring and eye-rolling from the teen in question.

    and while i don’t believe these books should be banned at all (though judging by taste, i have to wonder why they were written and why they are popular), i do think that we/parents should be careful about literature that is popularly bought by younger readers (even though it isn’t assigned in school). i’m not at all talking about books that question, or that delve into issues that kids at that age should be exposed to, i’m talking about being locked in an attic and having sex with your brother. stuff that maybe questions teens (or anyone) don’t need to be introduced to.

    of course, that said, my friends that were into these books are all normal adults. but they both have girls and i wonder if they would let their daughters read them when they were that age.

    anyone else heard of these books? disagree? think i’m a prude?

    • Oh, I not only heard of the books but read a few when I was a wayward tween. Fun fact: when I switched from the Flowers in the Attic series to a different series to see if it was any better, she had replicated an incestuous rape scene verbatim from one series to the other. She seemed fixated on the idea, which is damn disturbing.

      I wouldn’t be against the idea of a rating system for books, as long as it didn’t mess up the cover art ;-) I wouldn’t want it to be one that kept kids from buying books necessarily, the way that film ratings keep kids from seeing R-rated films, but something that parents could use to know the contents of the book even if they can’t be bothered to read them. I can appreciate wanting to tell the parents what their kids are reading; a lot of parents automatically think reading = good, especially non-reading parents, and don’t bother to check.

  74. Why not try really different contemporary novels like -[title and author redacted]. UP is really and truly subversive (the title alone gives you a clue [not really, since I just took it out!]). Mistakes are left in [they couldn’t afford an editor] and publishers and the publishing process, narrative, style, famous name-authors are all parodied, deconstructed in an appropriation story that pits genre against literary. It is all based on a parody of Joyce’s overall construct in Ulysses – the author uses Homer’s Iliad not the Odyssey. She and/or he doesn’t ignore the reader – the story’s a hoot, more laughs than a stand up routine. Try this review for a taste of what it’s like – [link redacted]

    So, if I’m understanding this correctly, you ripped off literary classics and repackaged them in a badly-written–oops, purposely-mistake-riddled–“subversive” contemporary novel that is doing so well that you have to come hawk it on my website when I don’t even know you. Something about this just doesn’t sound appealing to me, which is why you’re taking a hit from my comment policy threats promises. :-) -GGG

  75. Pingback: Banned Books Week | Novel Insights

  76. The only book that should be banned is the Koran. Every other page it says you should kill infidels, any Muslim making friends with an infidel is just as bad as an infidel. And it is the duty of every Muslim to commit Jihad. What I meant to say is, I’m a bigot who actually doesn’t know anything about the Quran, Islam, or Muslims, and my opinion should basically be treated like a pile of dog turds.

  77. When I owned a daycare,I used to celebrate Banned Books Week every year. Parents would be taken aback at first until I showed them some of the children’s book titles that are banned or challenged. Like, Where the Wild Things Are. Crazy.

    Coincidentally, I’m reading Hero by Perry Moore, which I just discovered was banned in Hawaii. I didn’t plan to read it coinciding with Banned Books Week but I suspect I read more banned or challenged books on a normal basis that I realize.

  78. I hate how books can get banned/censored/changed for having ‘Controversial language’, especially if its a classic. Don’t people realize that that is how people spoke back then? I mean, for someone to change the words in a book where it is in context, its not like people are swearing willy-nilly or something, its in context for gods sake! Honestly, now, the’re making all the middle schoolers read stupid things, not classics, like ‘The stranger next door’ and ‘The devils arithmetic’.

    To be honest, I’m only 13 and even I have read banned books. Animal Farm, Call of the Wild, ans I think I might have read one more at some time. The’re great books, I see no reason for the bans. I mean, Call of the Wild was slightly violent, but not enough to make you retch into a bucket or something. It was wolves, what can you expect?

    In school right now, we’re reading ‘The stranger NExt Door’ and its the most stupid, illiterate, idiotic book I have ever read for school. WEll, I guess it matches the completely illiterate idiotic generation of children that are going to be ‘this worlds future’. I can read 800 pages a night in 4 hours, and most of my classmates don’t want to read ever, and ‘tease’ me for wanting to read.Its completely pathetic.

    So.. Thats the end of my rant. On the other hand, I love your writing and look forward to actually talking to people who can spell, instead of using chat-speak every chance they get.

    • 1) I assure you that my panties are thoroughly un-knotted. :)

      2) I would be burned at the stake for what, being a woman with an opinion? or just being a woman in general? I don’t follow you here–I’m not a witch, nor do I even believe in witchcraft.

  79. Thanks for reminding us that there are still people who condemn those authors who hold a mirror up to the human race and show us the truth about ourselves close up. Some people are just too scared to look. I have The Grapes of Wrath on my shelf of honor in the living room- in my opinion the best American novel ever written. Great post.

  80. Reading from comments on the FB page of the Banned books, it makes me feel like unreal world – most books in those lists were in our high school reading list!
    It reminded me though a woman here the newspaper was talking about some time back, who would take a book from the library and used white pen to cover up words in the books she found offensive. When asked, she said she didn’t want the next person to read those words, that she was helping the society. It only resulted her being banned from every library in our country.

  81. In Canada and EU, books that are deemed ‘racist’ or ‘antisemitic’ are banned. Some of Celine’s writing cannot be published in France for this reason.
    There are no censorship laws in US as yet, but some people say ‘hate speech is not free speech’, especially if the ‘hate ‘comes from the right. Also, Elena Kagan admitted that she wants to ban certain speech and books as happens in Europe and Canada.
    In America, censorship doesn’t so much happen legally or officially as virtually or defacto manner. Since American Jews control much of media, politics, money and banks, law firms, and academia, we generally get a Judeo-centric or Zionist perspective on most issues. An person with ‘antisemitic’ or pro-Palestinian views has the legal right to express his views, but he won’t gain much of an audience since the major media outlets and political institutions will not disseminate his views to a larger audience. THAT is the real danger to American speech, not some news story about some local school in a small town not carrying CATCHER IN THE RYE. The fact is 99% of schools and libraries have that book. But how many would dare carry a book like JEWISH SUPREMACISM by David Duke? Yet, no one complains about ‘racist’ literature being de facto censored by most institutions.
    Also, the idea of ‘subversives’ is amusing in our current cultural climate when ‘subversiveness’ is now part of the mainstream. It is also a brand. But when Hollywood makes a ‘subversive’ movie like American Beauty and gives it the oscar for Best Picture, what is really subversive anymore? Political incorrectness is the real subversion today, and it just so happens that most ‘subversives’ are politically correct sheeple. For example, Solzhenitsyn’s book ‘100 years’ has yet to find a publisher in the US, but I guess one cannot censor a book that isn’t even allowed to exist in the US. Why has it not found a publisher? It is critical of Jewish power,and most publishers in the US are JEwish.

    tl;dr: I’m a Jew-hating bigot who doesn’t think it’s “fair” that people don’t highlight things that are antisemitic, even though the rest of the world knows what a crock of shit it is.

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  83. I will celebrate by re-reading “Justine” by Marquis de Sade. Now that book has such depravity and philosophy that I’m sure it’s “poo-pooed” in many tight ass literary circles …

  84. Aqui no Brasil nós temos centenas de “livros proibidos”, publicados livremente e lidos por crianças e adolescentes. Vive la liberté!

  85. I’ve been collecting the classics for years, I have Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Tom Sawyer and even Little Black Sambo and many hundreds more. Even though I went to Catholic schools, we had to read many of the now banned books in high school. I didn’t appreciate them then of course, because we had to read them. I’ve read or own most of the banned books and find it pretty comical that many of them are banned in various places. Although I read a ton, I don’t sit around reading the classics daily but I love having them. Terrific blog!

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  88. Grapes of Wrath was banned because towards the end of the novel, one starving character (an adult) suckles at the breast of an unrelated woman (I think she had just lost her baby). Dumb, hey? But that was the reason that kids were not allowed to read it except on the sly…

  89. People let their kids watch R-rated and the dumbing-down shitlist that is American TV, and they are actually worried about their kids READING BOOKS? Hell, I bought my daughter a used copy of Sinclair’s The Jungle, The Color Purple… and read them along with her so she could ask questions. Hey, why aren’t the “Left Behind” books on there? Haha, Fundie claptrap.

    I’ve read just about all the books that have been banned or burned, so I guess I’m the next log on Bachmann, Palin, et al.’s fire! Amy Barlow Liberatore, WordPress blogger (Sharp Little Pencil) and generally snarky old hippie

  90. I completely agree. I work at a book store and I’m proud to say that we carry ALL of the banned books mentioned in this post, and I sell tons of copies every week. I also believe that no books should be banned, and that it should be personal discretion that allows us to choose which material to expose ourselves and our children to. It’s called FREEDOM OF CHOICE, PEOPLE.

    • Yay, Chelsea. The Buffalo, NY Public Library has a huge, running display of Banned Books. I believe it’s in tribute to Mark Twain, whose “Huck Finn” made so many lists (and Twain put in years in Buffalo during his journalism career).

      I do not believe ANY book, not even one as vile as “Mein Kampf,” should be banned. Hitler planned the genocides of Jews and others based on the Turkish slaughter of hundreds of thousands of Armenians in 1906-1915. See how soon people forgot history? Now it’s gays in the crosshairs, along with Muslims, whose most extremist faction did the Armenian thing. A sick dance of “Ring Around the Rosy,” no?

  91. Ulysses is about a very confused Irishman who think s this kike Bloom is like a father figure. The old kike’s whore of a spouse cheats on him left and right, and the novel ends with her filthy Jewess ravings. Blah blah blah blah troll troll troll I have nothing better to do with my life than to make inflammatory comments on blogs.

  92. I don’t understand why anyone should have the right to ban books. I mean, if it was that bad, then publishers wouldn’t publish it in the first place. If they personally didn’t like it, then surely the NORMAL course of action would be to not read it again.

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  94. I agree with the donations and treats for library workers :) We always loved it when our regulars would stop by and give us something to share with everyone or all the books that are donated and taken care of by the volunteers. It gives a continuing need for the volunteer group and any money made goes to expanding our collection and creating more fun events for the community, especially the children events.

  95. I always find it hilarious that most people actually responsible for passing decisions pertaining to banning books never bother to actually read the book. They must be making their decision on hearsay, or maybe just the voice of God…?

    Whatever the case may be, I find it happens at an alarming ratio. Though, I imagine that when it comes to most actions taken or thoughts thought, we only believe or do them because someone we trust told us to act/think accordingly.

  96. There was a documentary on PBS a few months back about a similar topic- how the Texas State Board of Education changes words and sometimes deletes entire passages from history books to be published for school children 10 and older there. Conservative members of the board were very concerned about promoting “socialism”- to the point where the very word was struck from the books! Perhaps the only thing worst than banning a book is deleting a historical event altogether. Or perhaps not- they are both ways to do the same thing- create a hole in the national memory banks. It’s not exactly on topic but it might be a cool addition to this discussion- here is a link (hope you don’t mind)
    I went to school in the South Bronx. There was no standard reading list- or at least not one the teacher was pushing- he was just barely holding on. I chose to read “The Awakening” for a report on classic lit and it totally changed my outlook on “old” books.
    I still didn’t read a single “classic” until I graduated and went to college but talk about slap in the face! Everyone in my comparative lit 101 was referencing texts I had no idea about. But being a reasonably curious kid, I bought the Penguin classics library at the used book store and started my true education- it was much more fun than trying to dissect it in a class full of distracted teens. LOVE your “troll” warning banner- saved me from quite a few shocked intakes of breath. :)

    • I grew up in the burbs and took for granted the reading of classics. Our humanities teacher (yes, we had one; this was 1974) talked about the concept of banned books and, together, we read “Catcher in the Rye.”

      When my daughter when to the Buffalo, NY schools, the teachers didn’t know half the books I was asking about. So she and I would trek to the library and get them all. Her favorite? “Leviathan,” by Thomas Hobbes. One day she looked at me and said, “OH, I GET IT! “Calvin and Hobbes,” like John and Thomas, right?”

      I took her out for ice cream. She was in ninth grade. Parents can’t just rant on blogs about this stuff – although the ranting here reveals a fair amount of involvement in schools – we need to follow CSN&Y: Teach Your Children Well.

  97. Man! I left this great comment but my computer just went into twilight zone mode and it’s gone. Anyway to reference a prior comment about “tween lit”. I’ve never read “Flowers In The Attic” but I can understand why it’s so popular- many kids are dealing with the issues she fictionalizes- not the stuck in the attic literal part- the abuse from family members part. My first “naughty” book was Beverly Cleary’s “Forever” remember that? Woo boy did that book make me think- scared me off boys for several years. Right now “The Hunger Games” has me transfixed- very grown up themes and a great tight plot- it’s a great easy read and yes I will be putting in front of my kid as soon as she’s able to make it across 200 pages without whining.

    • Wait, wasn’t “Forever” by Judy Blume? I remember when my girl got a copy of that. She didn’t finish it – later, I realized why when she came out of the closet, ha ha ha. Too much boy/girl stuff for her taste, I guess.

      Thanks, I’m getting a lot of new-generation reads off this blog. Bless you, GreenGeekGirl! Amy

  98. 1. I will dig out my copy of the “Anarchist Cookbook” and contemplate how I can get high by smoking banana peels.
    2. Maybe work myself up into a paranoid frenzy about all those people who want to control what I think about and read.
    3. Cut out magazine letters in preparation of sending people from #2 threatening and surreal letters.
    4. Give it up as a lost cause.
    5. Lament my lack of access to fun substances.

    • Ooh thank you! It’s moments like this when I think that buying that book, having the clerk write down all the info on my drivers license and having him tell me that local law enforcement and the FBI (true story) will receive the information, was all worth it. Thank you Booksluts and keep up the good fight!

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  100. I just want to tell you how reading such great literature as : Fanny Hill, Lady Chatterliys Lover, Candy, and all of Harold Robbins’ books when I was 14 years old really helped me to appreciate the beauty of wriiting well. I adore your eye-catching illustrations and hope your site is well visited by curious minds.
    Thank you!,
    brwneyelvr, hrygrlslvr and other anonymous nome-degere

    • Agreed. On one hand I understand that you might not want a very young child reading certain books or information. But then it does make you think why and what is the worst that is going to happen. Children grow up in unsuitable enviroments where they hear unsuitable things. I think maybe children can handle some things adults are frightened to explain, maybe better than some adults. When you think about it there are very few subjects that can’t be explained to young people in the right way. Seems banning books suggests that either parents don’t want to explain or worse want to encourage young people not to think and analyse difficult topics. Its sad because parents might be better dissecting some of these books to look at why certain things my be right or wrong according to the beliefs they want to pass on to thier children.

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  102. Book that banned make me more curious to buy.. Baby Massage

    [I seriously need to make a spam-related comment award. Some of these are too good.–GGG]

  103. I was 21 when I read James Herbert’s The Fog. About a quarter of the way through I took it outside, tore it to shreds, and tossed the remains in a dumpster. I doubt I’d do that now (at 55), but I still wouldn’t read it. I wonder if Mr Herbert would do that to one of mine? Guess he’d have to buy one first. That’d be nice.

  104. “I would find it justifiable to keep it out of the reach of kids who aren’t old enough to watch R-rated films…”

    Point taken, though R-rated films are rather tame compared to the XBox games these youngsters obsess over, no? It’s trite, but video games they’re playing online with people Chuck Palahniuk gets ideas for characters from are more ban-worthy than ideas on a page. I don’t recall hearing about a video game ban…even Wolfenstein 3D was allowed in the states–sure the role one played was that of an American killing Nazi’s, but is that the moral fiber we use for youth in the US? Secondly, the exposure of gritty books may spark the next (enter great writer here)…let them read it, but print a disclaimer.

    • There’s not a video game “ban,” but kids aren’t supposed to be able to buy video games that are rated M, which are the really graphic ones. Some parents buy them anyway because they don’t think about it being “as bad” as R-rated movies, which is the fault of their education about video games. But that doesn’t mean that the games themselves are not subjected to a rating system that tries to keep them out of the hands of kids.

      I personally think it would take a lot for me to rate a book too adult for my teens and pre-teens, but. . . well, the opening scene of Snuff by Palahniuk features a bunch of guys standing around naked, eating Cheetos and playing with themselves while they wait to be in a gang-bang porno. I definitely think a book like that should have an adult content warning so that parents can make wise decisions and to get them involved.

  105. Wonderful post! As a fellow bookslut and literary academic I find the idea of “taboo” lit is fascinating. Some of the most rewarding lit classes I ever taught was on one of the most shocking and taboo novels I’ve ever read. Thirteen Cents by Sello Duiker (South African). There was no shortage of complaints from parents and clergy about us teaching that book, let me tell you!

  106. I’ve assigned Atwood’s Handmaid’s Tale to my college English class. (I think it’s a banned book, not sure.) No one in the class had even heard of the book; I expect the discussions to be lively.

    I love the way you deal with trolls. Delightful way to start the week.

    • I seem to remember that some of Atwood’s works are controversial, but my brain is a little fuzzy from the gym and subsequent Mexican feast, so my thinking isn’t extremely sharp at the moment. :D

      I have read one of her books and really loved it, though–The Blind Assassin. Let me know what you think of The Handmaid’s Tale!

  107. Somehow I missed Catcher in the Rye in high school. My stepson is now reading it for his American Literature class, so I agreed to read it with him. I will try to finish it this week. I can’t wait to find out why it’s subversive! How exciting!

  108. I’m amazed at how many of the books on the list from the last ten years are books I read in school in middle school and high school. Granted, that was over 15 years ago now, but still… Brave New World, Bless Me, Ultima, Catcher in the Rye, The Bluest Eye, Beloved, Huckelberry Finn, the list goes on. It’s such a travesty to education to keep these books away from young people. Sure, we need to be reasonable and know when they can handle certain topics. Lush is a book on that list, for sure, but seriously…. There are much scarier things for people to fear than Toni Morrison!

    • The treatment of certain topics, too, makes all the difference. The topic of rape, if handled without explicit sexual details (like genital type details) could be suitable to a somewhat younger audience than if the author went full-hog describing it.

  109. It’s not banned, probably because no one can finish it, but I’m reading through Gravity’s Rainbow again. Considering what some people ban, it is definitely profane, pornographic, occult, has nazis in it, etc… It was so profane that it didn’t win the Pulitzer after UNANIMOUS approval by the jury on fiction! So here’s to sticking it to the Pulitzer crowd! I’m reading the best book ever written and would be banned if anyone banning books actually read beyond what’s in pop culture.

  110. Question: When do you think is an appropriate time to read/share To Kill A Mockingbird with your daughter? She’s 5, so it’s a bit early. I love Scout, and the relationship she has with her brother and father, but the racism and rape part… not so much.

    • I wouldn’t be the one to ask about that, Kim–neither of the booksluts have children : and I would imagine that it differs with every child, what they are mature enough to handle. Maybe you could find some similar, age-appropriate books ^_^

  111. You didn’t read Call of the Wild because you have a vagina! Ha! Oh, wait, that’s not funny. CotW is better than To Kill A Mockingbird any day of the week and twice on Sunday. “Why Boo Radley! You bin standin’ behind that door all week! That is not a-tall implausibly creepy!”

    I think Harry Potter SHOULD be banned. Not because of the witchy stuff, but because it’s so retarded. That first one was one of the worst books I’ve ever attempted to read. people say Twilight is worse, which is hard for me to imagine.

    • Sorry that you didn’t appreciate my humor. I guess I’ll have to go cry myself to sleep in spite of all of the people who told me that was hilarious. ;-)

      I haven’t read CotW, as you know, but I wasn’t that impressed with TKAM, either, so I’m not sure what your point is by making that comparison. I was thinking about giving you a comment award, but you didn’t quite make the cut ;-)

  112. Hmmmmm, my human read your post over my shoulder, grinned and said “A lady who thinks.” He spent some buisness time in the USSR in the 80’s and really tell you about banned books, movies, thought, breathing and on and on….

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  114. Librariies don’t ban books. School boards, county boards, city councils do. It’s politics and fear. And many books are challenged but few are banned. There was a serious form a customer had to fill out if they wanted to challenge a book (at the library where I worked). The person had to go on record, name – address – phone number. They also had to state specific reasons. Many refused to do this and withdrew their challenge.

  115. I don’t think any single book could do nearly a quarter as much damage as most of the trite on TV these days, and this includes cartoons. The only reason there is anything ‘restrictive’ in literature, is because of the underlying themes expressed and parallels made (which are usually an accurate representation of life or the underlying greatness and morals behind characters portrayed in those novels… and not an over-exaggerated or embellished ‘reality’ like in most tv shows). Children might read about some scene in a book, but without the graphic visuals to enforce it, it will remain reasonably harmless and open to interpretation (except if it happens to be a gruesomely descriptive paragraph about an axe murderer, serial killer or rapist – but hey, isn’t there already so much of that on tv?)

  116. What an open mind you have. You are wrong on the fundamental – I didn’t know you, not ‘I don’t know you’. I do know enough of you now though, enough of your “let’s get ‘punchy’ as we’re hiding behind a blog” kind of invective. Common on the web. So I presume from your comment you have read the book, or are you just sounding off? Again.

    • Oh, I’m just sounding off, which is my right as the owner of this blog. Did you, perchance, read the comment policy, to which you agreed by posting a comment in this space? You used my blog as an advertising forum, which is extremely disrespectful–not only to me, as the blog owner who specifically said not to do so, but to all of the people that came looking for genuine content and found an advertisement.

      You still don’t know me–whatever you think you know about me is so shrouded in your wounded pride that you can basically dismiss it. Do you know yourself? You directly violated my comment policy, and you received the consequences of said violation. What that says to me about me is that I keep my promises and I follow through with my principles. What that says to me about you is that you have a reckless disregard for other people’s hard work and ownership of the space that they created. You never would have posted that in my space if I hadn’t been on the front page of WordPress. That seems a little too opportunist for my taste–almost vulture-like.

      Hiding behind a blog? What, exactly, does that mean? Did you want to meet in the schoolyard tomorrow at three and duke it out? This is my blog; you came to my blog; thus, I am responding to you on my blog. You can access my entire web presence from this site if you’re smart enough, and I’ve never hidden who I am–hell, my real name is down at the bottom of this page, and I’m the only person with that real name in the entire world. So “hiding”? Not so much.

      You broke the rules and now you should accept the consequences instead of whining about it.

  117. Your reply to boooksnoow will, undoubtedly, engender further response. I just want you to know that if you ARE called out, and you two meet in the schoolyard at three, I’ve got your back. But if it’s all the same to you, could we make it a little later? I work till 5!

    • Meeeee too! (Although, I have to admit, it does give me the opportunity to make comedy, and I like that.) I have a copy of Don Quixote sitting on the endtable next to me, do you think that would work?

  118. Oh dear. Methinks the lady does protest too much. Firstly, the novel is by someone I know so it is not an advertisement as your would have it but a spreading of independent word, one much backed up by far better minds than yours. Transference of ‘word of mouth’ in these days of blogging freedoms is a huge part of the meaning of web democratisation.

    You don’t own this blog. You imagine you own it. You participate in a free web environment that will not last – history shows us this with all media technology. So enjoy your freedom while it lasts, freedom to be as unpleasant as your liver dictates. Whine about it? Whine about what? Your abusive nature? I couldn’t less about your abuse or you. Ignorant abuse is like tyranny; it sits outside power. It has no power. You comments run off like the water in the shower.

    Your ownership as you call it is this – you send messages via a program WordPress has given you that the US government led 1990s sponsored internet and what it provides free to you. If you had to pay for this web space, this use of the ‘line’, you will be blogging far, far less, thinking hopefully far more about what you so ‘freely’ say. Clinton made sure the telephone companies did not charge the ISP providers for internet line use, all in order so you can aggrandise yourself and your ‘views’.

    You don’t know anything about me yet you send vituperative messages hiding, I say hiding, behind a blog. You are not a known columnist greengeekgirl, one with a profile to which I can publicly reply and which a wide public can know. You run a limited scope blog on which allows you jump on your hobbyhorse with ill-thought abuse because you think you can get away with it. In the wider media sphere you wouldn’t be able to do it – for all its faults that still has standards. Your so called rules ands standards are meaningless because apart from your lack of simple courtesy, you break the most fundamental rule of all – you write with a closed mind.

    tl;dr: I don’t understand how the internet works; I’m going to complain because I invaded someone’s creative space against the rules that they set for said creative space. Because I am throwing a tantrum, I’m also going to be insulting even while I’m calling you abusive, and even though I’m so mad I can’t just walk away, I’m going to emphasize how much I don’t care about you. I’m complicated!

    P.S. You forgot your link, so I added one in for you ;-)

    • Dude, just walk away. You’re not winning this argument. The simple fact is that, no matter how you slice it, whether you call it advertising or word-of-mouth, you violated my comment policy, period. If you look at just about any blog or forum that has policies, most of them say something to the tune of “Hey, don’t promote stuff except in designated areas.” It’s common. It’s common for a good reason–when viewers are coming to a site to read someone’s work, whether you’re a small blog or the New York Times, it’s courteous to allow the person who created the content–and who owns the content–to decide what their content will have attached to it. When someone is posting advertisements, promotions, or trying spread the word about some thing that the content author or creator has nothing to do with and knows nothing about, it’s damned rude to assume that the content creator would automatically be okay with that. What if I hated that book if I read it and didn’t want it anywhere near my blog? But who cares about that, right? Who cares that I spent time writing this post, spent time putting this space together, spent time deciding what kind of space I wanted it to be for both me and any readers–no, this is all about you getting your feelings hurt because you couldn’t be bothered to read the comment policy before leaving your sales pitch. It’s definitely not about what I want for the space that I created at all.

      No, I’m abusive for creating a highly-visible comment policy and then enacting the consequences of said policy when it is violated. I’m a monster.

      Now, the real problem here is that you weren’t discussing this book, you were promoting it. I’m not an imbecile, and my readers aren’t imbeciles, so we can tell the difference between marketing and a genuine contribution to the dialog. You used pitchy-review-language and suggested people “try” the book or get a “taste” of the book. If you had genuinely discussed the book, talking about how much you enjoyed it and your experience reading it, I would have left it there and probably left a nice reply. That’s discussion. What you did was a promotion. It was an advertisement. I don’t want my readers, whether I have five readers or five hundred readers or five hundred thousand readers, to come to a space where they can’t have a conversation without the interjection of disingenuous, spammy comments.

      You make noise about me being small-time, and I know I’m small-time, but if people weren’t ever coming to my page, you wouldn’t have felt the need to post the information here. You’re talking out of both sides of your mouth, and no matter how many big words you use to try to sound authoritative, you’re on extremely shaky ground because you’re saying one thing and doing quite another. You can keep coming at me, if you’d like, but that’s not going to change the basic facts here: I have a comment policy; I control the content of the comments, ergo, I have full ability and authority to enforce said policy; if you choose to conveniently forget both of those, the consequences are yours to deal with.

      Now, I need to go back to my cookies and milk. Who needs dramz when you have peanut butter and oatmeal cookies hot out of the oven?! Certainly not this bookslut. ;-)

    • P.S. What do you call someone who cries “abuse,” then follows it up by ranting about how closed-minded, ignorant, tyrannical, cowardly, and rude that supposedly “abusive” person is? The word starts with an “h,” but gee, I’m so ignorant that I just can’t place it. ;-)

    • Certainly you may ask a basic question! And the answer to your question is that I’m not 100% certain. A comment above talks about the banning process (go here); I don’t think it actually goes through the courts, because of the First Amendment. I think the idea of “banning” comes on a more local level, with local libraries and schools.

  119. Why the hell is Their Eyes were Watching God on that list????? I read that for AP LIt, and thoroughly enjoyed everything about it! It’s a wonderful tale and Zora Neale Hurston had such a beautiful way with words, that it should be transferred to the “Top 100 Books to Read Before You Die” list.

    • Hurston is an excellent writer, I agree. I love the lines at the end of the book: “Love isn’t something like a grindstone that’s the same thing everywhere and does the same thing to everything it touches. Love is like the sea. It’s a moving thing, but still and all, it takes its shape from the shore it meets, and it’s different with every shore.”

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  123. Brian: I wish everyone thinks the same way you do. Unfortunetly, when a book is banned (at least where I came from) that mean you can’t sell it in the bookstores. But, yes, it’s kind of make the book stands out.

  124. I don’t know why in this day and age that any book is banned. Its not like anyone is forcing you to read anything. And there are plenty of TV and movies out there that is more mainstream than books. The whole occult thing with Harry Potter is ridiculous, its entertaining! At least children are reading instead of playing video games. BTW, this is the second time this week that Chuck Palahniuk has been mentioned in a blog.

  125. As an Irishman who avoided living in Ireland for most of my life because the list of banned books included just about every worthwhile book ever written: I guess you could say I have strong feelings on this subject. Any book that gets banned always gets a look from me but I can’t say I actually read them all. Many are just plain poor literature. I had imagined book banning was gone from the western world but it’s not. I fell foul of it recently and had to withdraw one of my novels. It dealt seriously with the exploitation of children’s images and the sexualisation of children for profit. It was in all respects anti exploitation but because there was a scene that involved the thirteen year old heroine and solo sexual activity by her kidnapper, the novel cannot be on the iBookstore and some other eBook sellers. I’ve had to rewrite or face losing half my market. Their rules need to seen to be believed. Blanket censorship that takes no account of context, intent or literary worth.
    No book should be banned but still it happens and the digital age has made it even easier to enforce, not less.
    Thoughtful stuff here, thank you.

  126. Pingback: Banned Books Week 2011 « Laith's Ramblings

  127. What a fun post! Thanks for spotlighting this special week. You inspired me to choose a book from the list for my bi-monthly review of ghost novels. I’d already reviewed Beloved, so I chose The Headless Cupid. It’s a delight.

  128. Pingback: Banned Book Week! « Emily Grace Mehrer

  129. Wow, what a lot of comments! I couldn’t read them all, so sorry if I’m repeating someone else! I just finished The Naked Lunch. Fantastic book, one of the best I’ve read in a long time. Definitely shouldn’t be banned, but you do have to watch out where you read it. I was reading it on a train in Morocco (I know it was written/partly set in Tangiers, so I thought it would be appropriate), when I noticed the man next to me peering over my shoulder trying to read it. I doubt he could understand much of it, but I had to quickly shut it when I suddenly came to these lines:

    Met Marv in front of the Sagasso with two Arab kids and he said:
    “Want to watch these two kids screw each other?”
    “Of course. How much?”
    “I think they will perform for fifty cents. Hungry, you know.”
    “That’s the way I like to see them.”

    I don’t think he saw that, but he said the title was interesting and asked me what it was about. I couldn’t explain at all, so just showed him the blurb. So, don’t ban books, but do be careful where you read them!

  130. Pingback: What happened to freadom? « Culture Jaunt

  131. This turns you on, from Buroughs autobiographical notes?


    Met Marv in front of the Sagasso with two Arab kids and he said:
    “Want to watch these two kids screw each other?”
    “Of course. How much?”
    “I think they will perform for fifty cents. Hungry, you know.”
    “That’s the way I like to see them.”


    You’re a scumbag child-porn rape-porn promoter.

    Mighty harsh words from a person who calls themselves “lying kike.” (And yes, that’s what Lai Ing Kaik means–the e-mail attached is . Feel free to have fun with that, if it’s a real e-mail address.)–GGG

    • It’s not a personal description. I am not a lying kike. It’s a reference to the lying nature of The Kike.

      It has nothing to do with the fact that you pack of pathetic twats are all agigglewet over descriptions of Arab boys getting raped for food and kike shite like Kike in the Rye, but have no ragard for banned works of genius such as Mein Kampf.

      Hey, champ, I’ve been baited by better. You can’t point to an out-of-context passage from literature that was in one comment and twist it into “yer all child-pornographers!” I mean, you can, but it’s insufferably boring. Even Fox News does it better than that. –GGG

  132. Add you all together and you’d be less subversive than Barney the Dinowhore.

    As far as kiddie shows go, I think a Dinowhore would be pretty subversive. Why do you want kids hanging out with whores, anyway? I thought you were anti-CP.–GGG

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