Friday, October 1, 2010

Another Banned Books week gone...

Yup, it's Banned Books Week - last year, I think, I posted a banned book a day, randomly selected from the ALA's interactive map of challenged books. But this week I've been run ragged with a couple of huge events, and I think I didn't really have the energy to even look at the mass of wriggling ignorance that produces most book challenges.

But the week is meant to get attention, and it's heartening to see that people have been, as usual, posting and blogging about and tweeting the top 10 banned books - most of them YA books, many of them very popular YA books, and some of them the perennial returnees (Catcher in the Rye, Slaughterhouse Five, Huckleberry f*cking Finn.) And Tango Makes Three has been resting comfortably in the top five for years for the horrifying, childhood-destroying observation that two male penguins once set up house together and adopted a chick. Twilight's on the list this year, I see: not for the reasons that you might think, like "creepy hundred-year-old vampire stalks teen girl, portrayed as romance," but for having "sexually explicit themes." Or maybe someone objected to the undead thing.

So here we are at the end of the week: so to set up a variation on the theme for this year: Just found a list of banned graphic novels. (I discovered it because Neil Gaiman recently tweeted his disappointment that Sandman was up at the top of the list.) I think I want to go read all the graphic novels on this list that I haven't yet read (a surprising number, actually).

I also read a blog called "Letters of Note" (there's a link to it on the sidebar to the right) which posts correspondence that the editor finds interesting or enlightening: conveniently, for Banned Books Week, he just posted a letter from John Irving to a school library which had successfully managed to stop the removal of The Hotel New Hampshire from the school. Irving's letter in response is gracious and reassuringly calm. I particularly like his observation that "Real readers finish books, and then judge them; most people who propose banning a book haven't finished it. In fact, no one who actually banned Salman Rushdie's "The Satanic Verses" even read it."

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