Good news. My friend Janet in Houston is fine and has power! Woo hoo! I’m so happy all is well. In her honor, since she’s a librarian, I’m asking everyone who reads this blog to pick up a "challenged" book and read it.
It’s Banned Books Week. The American Library Association has posted the list of the most challenged books of 1990-2000. They define a challenge as a “formal, written complaint filed with a library or school asking a book to be removed because of content or inappropriateness.”
Beth Ciotta has a list of the Top Ten most Challenged books of 2004 on her blog. Check it out. Read one today. The list includes Harry Potter.
I browsed through the 100 Most Frequently Challenged Books of 1990–2000.
What a shocker when I found these gems:
The Outsiders by SE Hinton
Go ask Alice, by Anonymous
The Pigman by Paul Zindel
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
Cujo by Stephen King
Carrie by Stephen King
Lord of the Flies by William Golding
Of these, only the Stephen King books weren’t on my school’s reading list. I discovered Stephen King on my own with Carrie, and have read him since. The horror fascinated me, but his writing skill as an author kept me hooked.
Go Ask Alice is the diary of a 16-year-old drug user who chronicles her unhappy teen years and how she got hooked on drugs. It’s a riveting, true-life tale that kept me away from hard drugs when I was growing up. So why would anyone challenge THAT? Tell it like it is, folks, instead of trying to hush up the truth. “Alice” writes in her diary about typical teenage woes, such as trying to lose weight and eating 6 french fries, knowing it’s blowing her diet. Her loneliness in moving to a new town and trying to adjust leads her to the wrong crowd.
The Outsiders by SE Hinton… I can’t recommend that book enough. It was written by a very young S.E. Hinton in 1967. It’s Ponyboy’s tale, a story of gang violence between the greasers and the upper class socials, and the hope that barriers can be crossed. Stay Gold, Ponyboy, is a classic quote from that book.
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley. Fascinating. Written in 1931, long before the advent of test tube babies. Set in 632 A. F. (After Ford), people aren’t born. They’re hatched in jars and programmed to various levels of intelligence. Sometimes I amuse myself by cataloging people around me. Is that co-worker a Delta or the moronic Epsilon minus minus who can only flash a goofy grin and press an elevator button?
I feel blessed to have not only read these books in school, but encouraged by my teachers to do so. They were only part of my reading list, but through them, my horizons were expanded, my world opened up beyond the ordinary, tree-lined streets of Randolph, New Jersey. Support Banned Books Week today. Read a book others say you shouldn’t. Don’t be afraid to widen your horizons. You never know what kind of brave new world you’ll encounter.