Saturday, 28 September 2013

Banned Books Week US


This week is Banned Books Week in the US so I had a bit of a think about banned books. My opinion: you've really got somewhere as a writer when your book becomes banned. Goverments ban books because they are scared of their ability to influence; they ban books that are risky, books that have big messages and books that challenge. The chances are that if your book is banned you have written a pretty good book and what better way to get it read than to ban it? People always do what they aren't supposed to.

My list of banned books that should never have been banned:

One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest - Ken Kesey

One Flew Over The Cuckoos Nest was a book I first discovered in A Level Psychology. The book depicts the perils of psychiatry in the 60s and provides insight into the thin line between mental illness and well-being through the eyes of a half-mute patient. The book was banned in the 70s and 80s for its promotion of secular humanism, glorification of criminality and a pornographic nature. However, I think there is a lot to learn from the book, both in terms of progression in pyschiatry but should be valued for the depiction of secular humanism. The exact reason it is banned. Faith doesn't necessarily have to be seen in a religious sense; having humanistic values regardless of religious faith is definitely a positive. Also, the film is FANTASTIC.

Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll

I'm going to assume all of you have heard of Alice in Wonderland so I will just describe it in one word: fantastical. The fact that it is a fantastical, innocent book for children makes it even more difficult to believe that it had been banned. The book was banned in an area of China in the 30s for showing animals acting in the same way as humans; definitely a somewhat bizarre reason to ban an amazing book.

The Diary of a Young Girl - Anne Frank

Of all of the books on the list of banned books The Diary of a Young Girl can probably teach us the most; her hope and sense of humanity despite being in utter turmoil is both admirable and enviable. The diary documents the two years Anne and her family spent in hiding in the Netherlands during Nazi occupation. Two reasons for banning the book are "showing Jewish people in too good a light" in Lebannon and in various locations in the US for sexually explicit references. It has to make you wonder about the people who ban a book which is ultimately about holocaust, segregation, humanity and growing up because it is sexually explicit. Madness. The Diary of a Young Girl is a must read for anyone.

Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck

Of Mice and Men is a book most British teenagers are made to read as part of an English course. I was not. I just read it for readings sake and for a book of less than 200 pages it was quite a good read. Of Mice and Men is a novella about drifters Lennie and George as they go in search of the American Dream, exploring themes of lonliness, aspirations and finding companionship. But more than anything the novella explores mental illness, racism and love yet it has been banned for promoting euthanasia, sexism and vulgar language to name a few reasons. Of Mice and Men is a perfectly sad novella.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower - Stephen Chbosky

I haven't finished reading The Perks of Being a Wallflower so this is probably a bit of a bizarre one for me to write about. However, what I have read is an honest coming of age story at its best. The epistolary novel follows Wallflower Charlie as he battles adolescence. The novel has been challenged for its depiction of sex, drug use and for being anti-family. Lets be honest, what teenager has a bumpless relationship with their parents; the rocky relationship is all part of growing up and The Perks of Being a Wallflower gives an honest impression of growing up. Read the book, watch the film, in my opinion both are great.

That concludes my banned book tour.

Hannah x
Location: Newcastle upon Tyne, Tyne and Wear, UK


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