Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week the theme is Top Ten Books with ____ Characters. However, since it is Banned Book Week, I chose to deviate and develop my own list. So MY theme for this week is: Top Ten Banned Books on my TBR.
Banned Books Week is an annual celebration in America hosted by a national alliance of diverse organizations called the Banned Books Week Coalition. They seek to “engage various communities and inspire participation in Banned Books Week through education, advocacy, and the creation of programming about book censorship.”
I always try to host some banned book awareness posts each year during banned books week. So, I did a takeover of the Top Ten Tuesday list. I’m sure The Broke and the Bookish don’t mind. 😉
All titles below are links to the book’s Goodreads page.
Top 10 Banned Books on my To Read List
I Am Jazz by Jazz Jennings and Jessica Herthel
This book is at the top of my list because, in 2015, Jazz Jennings was slated to come to a nearby community and read her book to the students of the Mount Horeb, Wisconsin school district. I was psyched to go! However, the Liberty Counsel, a Flordia based group, threatened to sue. The school district couldn’t afford court fees, so they just canceled the event. I am STILL furious! Don’t bully my school district! You don’t even KNOW this community! Ugh. Anyway — this book is the semi-autobiography of the transgender identity realization of Jazz Jennings.
Deenie by Judy Blume
I almost hate to admit that I’m not a huge Judy Blume fan. I love the subjects she writes about, but I always struggle to get invested in her writing. That said, Deenie is on my TBR because it’s one of the many books Rory Gilmore reads/possesses at some point during The Gilmore Girls. I’m making a loose attempt to read most of these books. Sadly, it was challenged by parents in the Spring Hill Elementary School District in Hernando County, Florida back in 2004 due to passages which directly address masturbation. The school district decided to retain the title, but students were required to acquire written parental permission before they could read it. *Sigh*
The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri
I read Lahiri’s Unaccustomed Earth back in 2015 and I really enjoyed it. But, I have to be in the right mood for a short story collection. The Namesake is a literary fiction novel by a Pulitzer Prize-winning author, but that didn’t stop the literature committee of the Coeur d’Alene, Idaho school district from banning this book in 2015 because it contains “descriptions of sexual content that are too explicit for high school seniors”. Trust me, they’ve already read/seen worse.
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
This classic novel was removed from a required Freshmen English curriculum in Annapolis, Maryland in 2006 because of mature content, such as the book’s rape scenes. This book has been on my TBR for years, but I am even more motivated to read it after Evalina’s review a few weeks ago. I have a feeling I might adore this book, even if she didn’t! After all, I did adore Mom & Me and Mom…
Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami
I have never read Murakami but so many of my friends recommend his works! I have most of his novels on my TBR, but Norwegian Wood is fairly high up due to the banning. In 2011 the parents of Monroe Township Schools in Williamstown New Jersey complained about a gay sex scene resulting in this classic being pulled from the required summer reading list.
Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman
I adore Neil Gaiman’s writing. This book has been on my TBR since I discovered him. In 2013 Neverwhere was removed from the Alamogordo, New Mexico high school library and curriculum because of “inappropriate content”. I fell in love with Gaiman, the man, even more, when I read his rebuttal published in The Guardian:
Well-meaning adults can easily destroy a child’ love of reading. Stop them reading what they enjoy or give them the worthy-but-dull books that you like — the twenty-first-century equivalent of Victorian “improving” literature– you’ll wind up with a generation convinced that reading is uncool and, worse, unpleasant.”
Love you, Neil.
Looking for Alaska by John Green
Since its publication in 2006, Looking for Alaska has been challenged or banned almost every year in one city or another. In both 2008 and 2009 in Depew, New York. In 2012 Knox County, Tennessee. In 2013 in Verona, New Jersey. In 2014 in Waukesha, Wisconsin. In 2016 in Lumberton Township, New Jersey. Despite the 2006 Michael L. Printz Award for Excellence in Young Adult Literature bestowed upon this book, parents all over America feel this book is “too racy to read”.
Bone by Jeff Smith
This is a bit of a cheat, I will admit. Bone has been on my TBR since I was in high school. I picked up the first edition of Bone in our high school library because the author had also attended my school! I was so excited to find a published comic from someone connected to me in some fashion. However, I was never able to finish the series and time got away from me. I definitely want to finish it some day. Why was it challenged? Parents in Rosemount, Minnesota found the content (smoking, drinking, and gambling) inappropriate for elementary school kids. Too bad it’s rated suitable for 4th grade and above and has received positive reviews and praise from the likes as Time, saying “best all-ages graphic novel ever published”. Take that, concerned parents.
The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett
You might be surprised at the repeated nature of book challenges, but The Pillars of the Earth was pulled from a senior English Honors class in Troy, Pennsylvania after parents expressed concerns with the sexual content of the book. This book is about the building of a cathedral, people. It’s not that risque. And it’s THICK.
The Freedom Writers Diary by Erin Gruwell and the Freedom Writers
This book is one of my sister’s all-time favorite novels, and I am remiss in not having read it yet. Also a major motion picture, The Freedom Writer’s Diary is a powerful story about overcoming society’s expectations of you. And yet, it was challenged in 2007 (along with a number of other books) in Howell, Michigan due to strong sexual content. Specifically, this was a challenge to see if these books had broken laws again the distribution of sexually explicit materials to minors. Upon review, the court disagreed, saying:
After reading the books in question, it is clear that the explicit passages illustrated a larger literary, artistic, or political message and were not included solely to appeal to the prurient interests of minors.
While I might have repurposed this Top Ten Tuesday, I think it was the right thing to do. It’s important that we challenge the challengers– step up and ensure freedom of speech is protected by the freedom to read what you want. Expect more from me throughout the week as I post reviews of banned books I’ve read this year, as well as some commentary on the challenging and banning of books worldwide. I look forward to sharing all this with you!
What do you think?
- Did you participate in Top Ten Tuesday? Share your links below!
- Have you read any of these books? Where do you recommend I start?
- Are you participating in Banned Books Week? If so, share your posts below!
- What banned and challenged books have you read recently?