28 September 2009

read something banned

This week is National Banned Books Week. What would we have missed if we bought into the fears, discrimination or human arrogance that caused books to be banned? Here's some of what I would have missed:

Ulysses by James Joyce. Read on a personal challenge by one of my college professors. It challenged everything I thought I knew about story and writing - probably the best thing that could happen to an aspiring writer.

Chaucer's Canterbury Tales. Amazing humor and insight into human character, suffering and survival.

Leaves of Grass, Walt Whitman. The world would be a small, mean place without the Barbaric Yawp.

The Call of the Wild, Jack London. I was in 4th grade when I read this. Have wanted to visit Alaska ever since.

Black Beauty, Anna Sewell. "There is no religion without love, and people may talk as much as they like about their religion, but if it does not teach them to be good and kind to other animals as well as humans, it is all a sham."

Frankenstein, Mary Shelley. Led to all kinds of rebel period reading, Bram Stoker, Edgar Allan Poe, Emily Bronte. Horrifying.

Civil Disobedience, Henry David Thoreau. Of all books to be banned in the U.S. Interesting.

William Shakespeare - depending on the source, many of W.S.'s plays have been banned for various reasons. Can you imagine studying literature without any bubble, bubble, toil and trouble? Or without evil Richard III? No Puck, Peaseblossom or Nick Bottom?

Mark Twain's Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn. Imaginative source of most of the make-believe world of river-running and cave-exploring for me and my six siblings in the backyard tree-house and swimming pool of Bakersfield, Calif, summer of 1974.

Grimm's Fairy Tales. How would you not know that they threw the princess into the sea for being snobby.

The Little Mermaid. The non-banned version marries off a wide-eyed 15-year old to the first man she meets, while in the banned version, she shows some moral character and is turned to sea foam. Hmmmmm.

Gone With the Wind, Margaret Mitchell. Broke my teenage heart.

The Story of Little Black Sambo. A Christmas gift from my grandmother. Of course tigers are the reason butter is yellow.

Grendel, John Gardner. Language, beautiful language.

The Lorax, Dr. Seuss. Funny, I always thought it was about taking care of our limited resources.

To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee. Was in 6th grade when I read this the first time. Made a solid impression on my wish to become a writer.

That's just a few. Here's some of the Top 100 Banned:
The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald (just finished this last week)
The Catcher in the Rye, JD Salinger
The Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck
Of Mice and Men, John Steinbeck
The Color Purple, Alice Walker
Song of Solomon, Toni Morrison
Beloved, Toni Morrison
The Lord of the Flies, William Golding
1984, George Orwell
Brave New World, Aldous Huxley
Lolita, Vladmir Nabokov
Catch-22, Joseph Heller
The Sun Also Rises, Ernest Hemingway
A Farewell to Arms, Ernest Hemingway
For Whom the Bell Tolls, Ernest Hemingway
As I Lay Dying, William Faulkner
Heart of Darkness, Joseph Conrad
Their Eyes were Watching God, Zora Neale Hurston
Invisible Man, Ralph Ellison
Native Son, Richard Wright
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Ken Kesey
Slaughterhouse Five, Kurt Vonnegut
Cat's Cradle, Kurt Vonnegut
Go Tell it on the Mountain, James Baldwin
All the King's Men, Robert Penn Warren
The Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien
The Jungle, Upton Sinclair
Lady Chatterley's Lover, DH Lawrence
Sons and Lovers, DH Lawrence
Women in Love, DH Lawrence
A Clockwork Orange, Anthony Burgess
In Cold Blood, Truman Capote
Satanic Verses, Salman Rushdie
A Separate Peace, John Knowles
Naked Lunch, William S. Burroughs
The Naked and the Dead, Norman Mailer
Tropic of Cancer, Henry Miller
An American Tragedy, Theodore Dreiser
Rabbit, Run, John Updike

Be a rebel. Read something banned. I am.


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