Blog Hop: Banned Books

As regular readers know, I tend to bounce between different features on Fridays.  This week, I’m trying something new–the Book Blogger Hop, inviting book bloggers to answer a book-related question each week, and “hop” amongst the other blogs that are participating.  Normally hosted at Crazy for Books, this week it’s traveling to Soon Remembered Tales.  Today’s question is:

Banned Books Week ends on the 6th. How do you feel about books being challenged to be banned from libraries or schools? Have you read any banned books?

I have to admit I have never got all that worked up about banned books.  Of course I’m against censorship, but banning a book just seems pointless–especially now when you can get anything you like on Amazon, and banning a book usually just gives it more publicity.  I’ve never read a banned book because it was banned, although of course I’ve read books that have been banned at one time or another.  The Giver and Huckleberry Finn both come to mind.

My favorite topic in relation to banned books is the silly reasons books get banned.  If someone wanted to ban Huckleberry Finn for language, I wouldn’t approve but at least it would make some kind of sense.  But I’ve actually heard of it being banned for nudity (because one line mentions Huck and Jim aren’t wearing clothes on the raft–because they’re on a raft).  Or I’ve heard of it being banned because Huck rejects God.  Which has to be a complete misread of the beautiful moment when Huck decides he’ll go to Hell if that’s the consequences of rescuing Jim from slavery.

My favorite banned book story…some librarian wanted to ban Tarzan because Tarzan and Jane are living together in the jungle without being married.  And that isn’t even correct!  I’ve no idea what the details are in various adaptations, but in the original Edgar Rice Burroughs book, there’s a wedding on the last two pages–to quote, Jane’s father “was an ordained minister in his younger days.”  I find this all particularly funny because one of the hallmarks of Edgar Rice Burroughs books are completely chaste romances.

I know a lot of people have much stronger feelings about banned books than me.  Thoughts?  Stories?  What’s the stupidest reason you’ve ever heard for a book being banned?

20 thoughts on “Blog Hop: Banned Books

  1. I couldn’t agree more about the absurd reasons books have been challenged — when things are taken out of context or people make a fuss about a book without actually reading the whole thing…I feel they’re guilty of another form of “judging a book by it’s cover” — judging it by a small collection of dissected pieces — and THAT really irks me.

  2. Looks like we agree! Re: Huckleberry Finn … I’d heard it was banned because it used ni***er to refer to Jim. Whatever their reason, it’s absurd. Thanks for visiting!

  3. Hi, Cheryl!

    Thank you so much for dropping by and commenting on my Book Blogger Hop post! Your comment was much appreciated!

    As you know from reading my post, I do think that certain books should be kept away from younger people, such as children, young teens, and even older ones, sometimes. But banning “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” for the reasons you’ve mentioned is simply ridiculous!! And the banning of the Tarzan stories is hilarious! Of course Burroughs wrote very chaste romances. Lol.

    In my post, I mentioned a specific case in which I do think a book should be banned — when a book’s stated purpose is to instruct the reader in the commission of a crime or other immoral act. Not that long, Amazon came under heavy attack for its sale of a book titled “The Pedophile’s Guide”. Now this is definitely disturbing. The book justified and glorified pedophilia, which is a crime as well as a psychological sickness. After the public outcry got too strident and prevalent to ignore (and I’m proud to say that I joined in), Amazon finally did remove the book from its inventory. This is the one exception I would make to censoring, as well as the one regarding young readers.

    If mature adults wish to read disgusting, totally depraved books, then that’s their problem, and they should be free to do so. After all, there’s no accounting for taste. However, i maintain that, in the two exceptions I’ve noted here, censorship is indeed necessary, for the good of all parties concerned.

  4. Huckleberry Finn seems to be a favourite of people who bann books. They want to bann it for several different reasons but I doubt that these people understood the book.

  5. Can’t say in my life time I’ve heard of any books being banned here. My opinion has always been if you ban something it will only make more people want to read or watch it. Take the original film of Texas Chainsaw Massacre its actually quite a terribly made film but because it was banned it became famous and made loads of money!

    My grandparents are of the age to remember Lady Chatterly’s Lover being banned. My nan confessed as soon as the ban was lifted she bought a copy…but said it was nothing to write home about! Funnily enough though it is still kept hidden away in the wardrobe instead of being on the bookshelf.

  6. I admit to not being very well-versed on this subject, but I’ll agree that reasons for banned books can be so silly. Like Harry Potter! I was maybe twelve when I started reading Harry Potter. It didn’t make me want to start practicing witchcraft and it didn’t shake my faith. It’s a fun, insightful fiction. Kids see a lot worse in the TV shows and movies they watch.

  7. Dennis

    I think the stupidest example of book banning was the teacher who refused to allow a student to make a voluntary book report on the Lion, the Witch,and the Wardrobe because of its Christian overtones. Your example of the librarian who removed Tarzan from the shelves is a very close second. Fortunately, book banning usually backfires. Newspaper columnist Mike Royko once heard of an organized effort to ban one of his books,. He responded by offering to make a financial contribution to the organizers, figuring the publicity from their effotrts would be a great boost to his sales.

    1. That is pretty stupid, but even worse are the CHRISTIAN parents who got The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe taken off assigned reading lists because it had the word “witch” in the title. People are awfully silly.

  8. dianem57

    I think the Internet has changed the whole dynamic when it comes to banned books, at least in the U.S. You are right that anyone can buy anything from Amazon or other book sellers now. And some books that were once considered worthy of being banned are in the public domain at this point so could probably be read through Google! Back before the Internet came into being, though, this was a more serious issue, especially in small towns with only one library and few bookstores. The freedom to read whatever you want is another benefit of the openness that the Internet has produced.

    1. Great point–the effectiveness of “banning” a book has no doubt changed with the arrival of the internet. I’m glad information is so much more readily available now–making it much harder to lock a book away.

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