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29 September 2018

Saturday Spotlight | Banned & Challenged Books Week



In addition to the usual blog posts on Mondays and Wednesdays (and the occasional Friday) about our eccentric travel adventures and day-to-day life living aboard a sailboat, I also occasionally post on Saturdays, focusing on things related to writing such as cover reveals, book launches, reviews, interviews with authors etc. So if you're a bit of a book nerd like I am, check in on Saturdays - you never know what might pop up.


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The annual Banned Books Week wraps up today and in its honor, I selected four books from the American Library Association's list of frequently challenged books with diverse content to add to my TBR (to be read list). I was pleased to see that all of these books are available at my local library.

While I might not agree with the content / themes of certain banned and challenged books, they might make me uncomfortable, or I might just find them boring, I think it's important to read banned and challenged books from time to time to get a different perspective on things and try to understand where people are coming from. In my opinion, freedom of speech is critical, even when I don't like what certain people have to say.




Beloved by Toni Morrison is considered by many to be a modern American classic and won the Pulitzer Price in 1988. Graphic sexual content has been cited as the reason for it being banned, although some would argue that there are many other books that have similar content which haven't been subject to the same restrictions.

Here's the blurb from Goodreads:

"Staring unflinchingly into the abyss of slavery, this spellbinding novel transforms history into a story as powerful as Exodus and as intimate as a lullaby.

Sethe was born a slave and escaped to Ohio, but eighteen years later she is still not free. She has too many memories of Sweet Home, the beautiful farm where so many hideous things happened. Her new home is haunted by the ghost of her baby, who died nameless and whose tombstone is engraved with a single word: Beloved.

Filled with bitter poetry and suspense as taut as a rope, Beloved is a towering achievement by Nobel Prize laureate Toni Morrison."

I was surprised to see Tintin in America by Herge on the list. I used to read the original French-language versions as a kid as part of French class. I had no idea why this was on the list until Tonja Drecker told me that it was due to stereotypical and racist depictions of indigenous peoples. I'm looking forward to revisiting Tintin and seeing what he gets up to in America. And it will be so much easier to read it in English this time.

Here's the blurb from Goodreads:

"The classic graphic novel. Tintin comes to the U.S.A. to clean up the mean streets of Chicago but ends up in the wild west! Will Tintin make it back home?"

The Curious Incident of the Dog in Nighttime by Mark Haddon sounds really interesting as it's written from the perspective of someone who has Asperger's. It was challenged due to use of the F-word and for the main character's views on God.

Here's the blurb from Goodreads:

"Christopher John Francis Boone knows all the countries of the world and their capitals and every prime number up to 7,057. He relates well to animals but has no understanding of human emotions. He cannot stand to be touched. And he detests the color yellow.

Although gifted with a superbly logical brain, for fifteen-year-old Christopher everyday interactions and admonishments have little meaning. He lives on patterns, rules, and a diagram kept in his pocket. Then one day, a neighbor's dog, Wellington, is killed and his carefully constructive universe is threatened. Christopher sets out to solve the murder in the style of his favourite (logical) detective, Sherlock Holmes. What follows makes for a novel that is funny, poignant and fascinating in its portrayal of a person whose curse and blessing are a mind that perceives the world entirely literally."


Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi is a graphic novel memoir about growing up in Iran. I remember seeing it at my sister's house, but I didn't have a chance to read it when I was there. It has been challenged due to "coarse language," depictions of torture, and Islamic content.

"Wise, funny, and heartbreaking, Persepolis is Marjane Satrapi’s memoir of growing up in Iran during the Islamic Revolution. In powerful black-and-white comic strip images, Satrapi tells the story of her life in Tehran from ages six to fourteen, years that saw the overthrow of the Shah’s regime, the triumph of the Islamic Revolution, and the devastating effects of war with Iraq. The intelligent and outspoken only child of committed Marxists and the great-granddaughter of one of Iran’s last emperors, Marjane bears witness to a childhood uniquely entwined with the history of her country.

Persepolis paints an unforgettable portrait of daily life in Iran and of the bewildering contradictions between home life and public life. Marjane’s child’s-eye view of dethroned emperors, state-sanctioned whippings, and heroes of the revolution allows us to learn as she does the history of this fascinating country and of her own extraordinary family. Intensely personal, profoundly political, and wholly original, Persepolis is at once a story of growing up and a reminder of the human cost of war and political repression. It shows how we carry on, with laughter and tears, in the face of absurdity. And, finally, it introduces us to an irresistible little girl with whom we cannot help but fall in love."

Do you ever read banned or challenged books? If so, which ones would you recommend?

12 comments:

  1. Banning books is a sad thing. Banning history is too.

    Have a fabulous weekend. ♥

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  2. One year in the library we produced an annotated reading list of books in our stock that had been banned or challenged elsewhere, with explanations about why. The clear (we thought) purpose was anti-censorship. One student complained to her tutor that the library was banning books, said tutor hot-footing it down to see us, then leaving in some embarrassment. *Sigh*

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    1. I've seen displays in libraries during banned books week doing a similar thing. I think it's a great idea.

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  3. While i have read a few banned or challenged books, many of them i just have not had time or interest to get to. And i so agree that banning books is wrong. If you don’t like a book, just don’t read it!

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    1. Exactly - there are a lot of books out there. Choose the ones you want to read and don't read the ones that you have issues or concerns about.

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  4. I bet everyone has read a challenged book. I went to the internet and looked them up. I don't read much, but I have read close to 15% of the most challenged books. Actually after seeing the list I'm surprised that every book I have ever read isn't on the list. I imagine that most book challengers read less than me, though.

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    1. I was surprised at some of the ones on the lists and had had no idea they were banned or challenged.

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  5. One of the greatest gifts my parents gave me as a child is NOT censuring my reading material. Books are meant to be read, and I've often read a book simply because some prude thought it should be banned. I may not always like the book, but that should be MY decision, not some arbitrary board of people who think they know what's best for me and other readers.

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  6. I was surprised when you told me that Tintin was banned. The other ones are new to me. I understand why people get upset and don't always agree with the content, but banning isn't the way to handle such things.

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    1. I've finished the Tintin book and I can see why it was challenges as there are definitely issues with how Native Americans are portrayed, as well as African-Americans and Chinese people.

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