Sunday, September 30, 2012

Three Reasons Banning Books is Not the Answer (Celebrating Banned Books Week Plus Giveaway!)

Banned Book Week is being hosted by Book Journey. There will be posts and hops all week to celebrate banned books. You might be surprised how many of your favorites have made this list at some point! Visit Book Journey for more details.

When the powers-that-be decide that a book isn't suitable for their agendas, they tend to ban it from schools, libraries, and what Jane Austin might have referred to as "good society."

This is, of course, the worst thing they could possibly do. Not only because it violates all kinds of constitutional rights, but because it accomplishes exactly the opposite of what they intend. The best way to get a lot of people to read a book is to ban it.

And why is that, exactly?

1) Human Nature. We mortals are naturally both curious and rebellious. The instant we hear that something is off limits, we are seized with an overwhelming desire to participate in that thing. (Why do you think dieting is so hard?)

2) Revolution. Many banned books are about a revolution of some kind, whether political, emotional, cultural, religious, or personal. Revolutions generally spawn from some kind of oppression. By banning books about revolution (usually under the guise of forestalling social upheaval) the powers-that-be give birth to the very thing they're trying to avoid.

3) Freedom. Exploring the limits of our imagination makes us more free, not less. The more free we feel, the more satisfied we are with life. Assuming we aren't oppressed in any other part of our lives, this would make us less likely to rise up. Banning books simply fans the flames of unrest. Again, not what they were trying to accomplish.

When I read the Hunger Games trilogy a couple of years ago, I was told all kinds of interesting things. Most people I spoke to really liked the first book, but not so much the second or third. I'm not sure why that was, but it gave me low expectations for the rest of the trilogy. I even considered not reading the second and third volumes. But, when the first one ended, I knew I had to keep going. I just loved the first book so much!

*some spoilers ahead*
When I got to the part of Catching Fire where Katniss visits Rue's district, my jaw was on the floor. It was poignant, shocking, and visceral. Tears came to my eyes and I remember thinking how stupid the Capital was. There was nothing they could have done to more fully ensure that the people of that district would revolt. Most people will only stand for injustice and violence for so long before they rise up to stop it.

I remember suddenly craving an insurrection! I totally wanted a dozen Nazis complete with Third Reich uniforms to show up threatening people, just so I could go all Angelina Jolie on them to get my adrenaline out. This is the effect that injustice has on us.

That's why oppressive regimes will always fall. Eventually. And why all banned books will be read. Here's to what they don't want us to read. *lifts hot cocoa cup* and may the odds be ever in our favor.

Giveaway:

At the end of the week, I'll be giving away a $10 Amazon gift card. To enter, just leave me a comment telling me what your favorite banned book is and why. :D

61 comments :

  1. You're right - banning a book guarantees everyone will want to read it.

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  2. Ah, great post! I am all about those harry Potter books... but I do love To Kill A Mockingbird, Fahrenheit 451...

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    1. Me too! Haven't actually read Fahrenheit 451, but know the story pretty well. LOVE HP and TKAM! :D Thanks so much for stopping by! :D

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  3. There are so many on the list I love, but the one that touched me most was Of Mice and Men by Steinbeck. I read it my sophomore year for English and immediately went out and bought it for myself. Despite the harsh themes found throughout, I found myself drawn to the subtle undertones of love, selflessness and sacrifice. It reminded me that even in the darkest and harshest of circumstances, tiny bits of light and compassion can always be found :)

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    1. Steinbeck is a good example of a banned book. I'm not much of a Steinbeck fan myself, but I can totally see that his books would be banned and, if I hadn't already in high school, I would totally want to read them. Great insights! Thanks so much for stopping by! :D

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  4. GONE WITH THE WIND is one of my favorite banned books. Thank you.

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    1. Haven't read the book of that one; just seen the movie. Thanks for stopping by! :D

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  5. Great post! Here's to never being censored and to reading whatever in the world we want! :)

    I think my favorite banned book is To Kill a Mockingbird :)

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    1. Ooh yeah! I love that one! Thanks for visiting! :D

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  6. Green Eggs and Ham! My dad bought a copy when it came out and we all loved it. My sons, grandkids and greatgrandkids have all read it, or had it read to them. A family favorite!!

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    1. Didn't realize that one was on the list. That's awesome! :D Thanks for dropping by! :D

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  7. Leslea Newman's Heather Has Two Mommies: What a groundbreaking book it was and is. But what a difference it has made in young children's lives over the years (and provided needed support to parents as well!) I'm looking forward to her new book on the Matthew Shepard case, a series of poems inspired by her presence at the University of Wyoming just as the tragic situation was going public. October 6 is the anniversary!

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    1. Thanks for the info! And for stopping by! :D

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  8. I've only read the Hunger Games and Twilight series on the list so definitely New Moon. And because... Team Jacob. Thanks for the giveaway. :D

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    1. No problem. Thanks for visiting, Mandee. Cool thumbnail pic! :D

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  9. Great post and I agree with you - banning a book will just make people want to read it more. My favourite banned books are the Harry Potter series and The Perks of Being a Wallflower. Harry Potter will always be special to me, it was a huge part of my childhood and for Perks, I fell in love with the characters and the relationships. It's just an amazing book. :)

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    1. I'm with ya on HP. Haven't read Perks but I've heard great things about it. Thanks for commenting! Happy Banned Books Week! :D

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  10. I love Harry Potter. The magic, the suspense....I was in heaven reading all the books. I enjoyed The Hunger Games, but not as much as Harry. I have Farenheit 451 in my TBR stack.

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    1. Great picks! HP is one of my faves too! :D Thanks for stopping by! :D

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  11. It is so hard to choose a favorite! I love Lord of the Flies though.

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    1. I actually haven't read that one, but I know the story pretty well. Guess I should sometime, huh? Thanks for visiting! :D

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  12. My new favorite banned book is The Color of Earth. I read it just for Banned Book Week. It is a lovely graphic novel about love and self discovery. I loved it!

    Kendal
    Kinx's Book Nook

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    1. I'll have to check that one out. I'm not big on graphic novels, but I usually enjoy them when I DO read them. Thanks for the tip! :D

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  13. Great post and so true. My favourite banned book is properly the Harry Potter Series. Thanks for the great post and giveaway

    Megan McDade
    http://readingawaythedays.blogspot.co.uk

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    1. No problem! Thanks for stopping by! (And you can't go wrong with Harry!) :D

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  14. I think my favorite banned book is Farenheit 451. Unfortunately, there are a lot of good books to choose from since so many have been banned at one time or another!

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    1. I agree! Too many to choose just one! I haven't read Fahrenheit 451, but I know the story pretty well. :D Thanks for visiting!

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  15. I am astounded when people "out there" try to decide what the rest of us should read.

    The Handmaid's Tale is one of my favorite "banned books," and it illustrates the very things that happen when others try to legislate how we live.

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    1. Haven't read that one. I'll have to check it out! :D Thanks for stopping by!

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  16. Gone With the Wind is my favorite banned book. Until this year I didn't realize it was on the banned book list. I read it when I was young along with To Kill a Mockingbird and Uncle Tom's Cabin and I know I learned a lot from these books. In my opinion they should all be required reading!

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    1. I agree! Great picks! Thanks for commenting! :D

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  17. Great post! You are so correct about the attention that a book receives after being banned or challenged. Here's to reading the banned books!
    Rebecca @ The Key to the Gate

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  18. There are so many excellent challenged and banned books from which to select, but I'd say my favorite right now is The Perks of Being a Wallflower. Excellent book that tackles some tough issues for teens. I wish I had read it when I was young.

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    1. I haven't read that one but I want to. Thanks for dropping by! :D

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  19. Interesting thoughts. As you say the instant we hear that something is off limits, we are seized with an overwhelming desire to find out more and as they say all publicity (even when its bad) is good publicity.

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    1. Thanks! Yeah, I think anyone who tries to suppress something always ends up shooting themselves in the foot. Happy Banned Books Week! :D

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  20. Great post. Followed a link and found your blog. At first thought, this was a hard decision. Harry Potter's theme of good versus evil leaves me with no problem letting my girls read this series. I know family members and other families that refused to let their kids read these books?!? But my all time favorite is the Hunger Games series. Until today, I had no idea they were even banned! I recommend these books to EVERYONE I know. I rarely recommend books because I think reading books is a very personal thing and everybody likes something different. I just asked my 12 year old when she was going to start reading Hunger Games. Katniss is a great role model. These books had it all for me: strong likable characters to root for and bad guys to root against, action, setting, etc. I could keep going on. Sorry for writing a book.

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    1. LOL. It's all good! Hunger Games and Harry Potter are two of my faves, too! Thanks so much for stopping by! :D

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  21. My favorite banned book is To Kill a Mockingbird.
    amandarwest atgmaildotcom

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    1. That's one of my favorites, too. Thanks for visiting! :D

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  22. I agree with your post on so many levels. I am a huge supporter of Banned Books Week, and it is nice to get to visit some of the other blogs participating through Book Journey.

    As to a favorite, it is hard to say. How about my favorites? :) To Kill a Mockingbird, Speak, and The Hunger Games. Thanks for the chance to win!

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  23. Honestly, there are too many to choose from. Harry Potter, the Lord of the Rings trilogy, the Chronicles of Narnia, any of Chris Crutcher's books ... and in the library where I work, the manga series Bleach.

    Glad to see another blogger honoring Banned Books Week! I reviewed Crank, by Ellen Hopkins, over at my blog.

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  24. I really don't have just one fav, but I've always wanted to get a list and go through it one by one.

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  25. Great insight! There are so many favorites... Margaret Atwood's "The Handmaid's Tale" is just so powerful and frightening, I loved it. I have trouble picking just one though!! Others: The Color Purple, To Kill a Mockingbird, Of Mice and Men, The Giver, and I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. Thanks!

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  26. Lady Chatterley's Lover - mainly remembered as I read it when I was about 13 years old!

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  27. I think my favorite would be The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. I remember reading Tom Sawyer and thinking how Huck Finn couldn't top that book, but I loved the friendship that grew between Huck and Jim, and I think that book has alot more to say about people, that the people who ban it just don't think about. It's such a shame.

    Great post, I loved the whole Hunger Games trilogy, even if I found the last book pretty devastating!

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  28. My favorite banned book is THE COLOR PURPLE. It's such an emotional read. Beautifully written.

    marypres(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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  29. Right now, my favorite is The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian because I just finished it! I also want to read Are you There God, It's Me Margaret because Jennifer just reviewed that one too.

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  30. My favorite will always be Lord of the Flies because it is such a study on what its like to be human without any social structures.

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  31. My favorite will always be Lord of the Flies because it is such a study on what its like to be human without any social structures.

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  32. My favorite is Of Mice and Men. Thanks for this great post. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

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  33. To Kill A Mockingbird. This classic is a beautifully written, educational masterpiece that I feel everyone should read.

    Thanks for a great giveaway! :)
    songbird1613 at yahoo dot com

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  34. I agree with you for the reasons why books shouldn't be banned. Though I do sometimes find books uncomfortable...like the violence in the Hunger Games!

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  35. Ha - I love that a book made you want to go all Angelina Jolie!

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  36. I love GONE WITH THE WIND. The characters are truly memorable & the story just brilliant.

    marypres(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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  37. The Awakening by Kate Chopin! I absolutely love that book. I lost my copy when I lost all of my things when we moved after my mom's death, so I'm itching to get another copy. It's like Mel Gibson's character in Conspiracy theory- I have to have a copy! LOL!
    Jesse
    jesse.kimmelfreeman@gmail.com

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  38. Great post :) The 1st reason is the one that always comes to mind when I think of anything being forbidden. I can't comprehend why those groups trying to censor any form of media can't see that their efforts are counter-productive. Yet, they still do it. Many times, I hadn't heard of the book/movie/TV show/music challenged but the forbidden fruit piques my curiosity.

    Your other two reasons, revolution and freedom, are ones I never would have thought of but very valid.

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  39. Oops -- forgot to mention my favorite banned book. I would say Blubber by Judy Blume. I guess it kind of reminds me of my school days. I remember an incident in 6th grade where a girl, a former friend, went around the class passing out ballots for me or against me. My lack of reaction spoiled the fun. As bad as bullying was back then, it's so much worse now that bullies have modern technology. These days, when bullying incidents are rampant, this book shoud be made part of the curriculum instead of being challenged.

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  40. I loved The Giver by Lois Lowry because it was so thought-provoking! I read it quickly but it was so original and amazing that I kept thinking about it long after I was done reading it. I love banned books week and getting to learn about which books were banned and why. Thanks for this great giveaway - I would love to win!

    susanw28 (at) mindspring (dot) com

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