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5 Books to Read for Banned Books Week

5 Books to Read for Banned Books Week

September Literacy Month

Happy Banned Books Week!

Banned Book Week is celebrated from September 24-30 this year. According to bannedbookweek.org, this week is for "the annual celebration of the freedom to read." Every year the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF) puts together a list of 10 books that were the most challenged that year. The following is a list of 5 books I've read that also appeared on the OIF list of most challenged books since 2010. I encourage you to pick one and start reading it this week in celebration of Banned Books Week!

1. Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell | Challenged for offensive language

I was really surprised to see Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell on the list of top 10 challenged books for the year 2016. I LOVED this book, as you might remember from my review of it not too long ago. A lot of the typical young adult themes are present in this book: young love, teenage angst, school bullies, and homework. But there is so much more to this book than your typical high school drama. Eleanor and Park navigate more serious home troubles better than most adults could. They learn that people aren't always what they seem and that they aren't the only ones who are judged unfairly.

Eleanor and Park by rainbow rowell.jpg
Eleanor & Park
$13.95
By Rainbow Rowell

2. The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls | Challenged for offensive language, sexually explicit

I'm probably the last person in the world (okay, maybe just the last book blogger) to read and review The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls. I just published my review at the beginning of this month, along with a review of the movie starring Brie Larson, Naomi Watts and Woody Harrelson. The book is a memoir about growing up in the Walls family, which was highly dysfunctional at best. Jeannette was the second oldest of four. Her mother didn't take to domesticity and wasn't keen on raising a family. Her father, although charismatic and academically brilliant, was an alcoholic. Essentially the Walls children raised themselves but eventually prospered.

the glass castle by jeannette walls.jpg
The Glass Castle: A Memoir
$10.20
By Jeannette Walls

3. Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley | Challenged for insensitivity, nudity, racism, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit

How could I not include Brave New World by Aldous Huxley - I'm sure you know by now that my dog, Huxley, was named after this author. Although originally published in 1932, it continues to appear on the top ten challenged books. I'm sure, like me, you all read this book in high school English, but here is a refresher: This book takes place in London in the year 2540 and paints a picture of a dramatically changed society with advances in reproduction and sleep-learning (among other things...I'm reaching back over a decade to recall this book. I do remember being pretty excited about the idea of sleep-learning when I read this in high school.) In addition to being one of the most challenged books, it is also regarded as one of the best English-language books of the 20th century.

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Brave New World
$12.04
By Aldous Huxley

4. To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee | Challenged for offensive language, racism

Another high school classic. I chose this one because I read Go Set a Watchman not too long ago (although apparently before I started this blog, because I couldn't find a review of it!) and I really enjoyed being reunited with Atticus and Scout (or Jean Louise, as she was called in Go Set a Watchman.) This book has also made the top ten most challenged books on several different occasions, most recently in 2011. And as is common for frequently challenged books, it is also well-loved by many.

to kill a mockingbird by harper lee.jpg
To Kill a Mockingbird
$5.89
By Harper Lee

5. Nickel and Dimed, by Barbara Ehrenreich | Challenged for drugs, inaccurate, offensive language, political viewpoint, religious viewpoint

I read this book prior to starting my Freshman year at Stephens College. It was required reading for all Freshman (if I remember correctly) and was discussed on the first day of class. I remember being a little intimidated that I had homework even before my first day of class - but I still often think about this book and the issues it raised.  Barbara Ehrenreich was an undercover journalist working as a waitress, a hotel maid, a cleaning woman, a nursing-home aide, and a Wal-Mart sales clerk (in succession) and trying to make ends meet.

I challenge you to choose one of these books to start this week in celebration of Banned Books Week and our right to read. Although not all of these books were formally "banned" they've all been extensively challenged, making the list of top ten challenged books for at least one year since 2010. For a complete look at the most challenged books over time, visit the Top Ten Most Challenged Books Lists by the American Library Association's Office for Intellectual Freedom.

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