Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Banned books watch 2010

It's the ALA's Banned Books Week again - it comes round fast.

Another depressing list of the books most frequently requested to be banned from American libraries. The top ten is:

1. TTYL; TTFN; L8R, G8R (series) by Lauren Myracle

Reasons: Nudity, Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group, Drugs

2. And Tango Makes Three by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson

Reasons: Homosexuality

3. The Perks of Being A Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

Reasons: Homosexuality, Sexually Explicit, Anti-Family, Offensive Language, Religious Viewpoint, Unsuited to Age Group, Drugs, Suicide

4. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Reasons: Racism, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group

5. Twilight (series) by Stephenie Meyer

Reasons: Sexually Explicit, Religious Viewpoint, Unsuited to Age Group

6. The Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger

Reasons: Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group

7. My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult

Reasons: Sexism, Homosexuality, Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Religious Viewpoint, Unsuited to Age Group, Drugs, Suicide, Violence

8. The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big, Round Things, by Carolyn Mackler

Reasons: Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group

9. The Color Purple by Alice Walker

Reasons: Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group

10. The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier

Reasons: Nudity, Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group


How dispiriting that after all these years Holden Caulfield can still cause such apoplexy. And even more depressing that a superb anti-racist book such as To Kill A Mockingbird can be so misread that its meaning is completely reversed.

Recently, there was a post in one of the message boards for UK librarians. The poster's library authority had banned all connection with anything Israeli, and that included Israeli authors, so he was having to contemplate removing Israeli authors from his shelves. Had anyone else encountered the same issue, he asked. What an astounding reaction! He was being told to censor his library collection, take off classics of literature, for no better reason than the authors' nationalities, and his first thought was not to man the ramparts. This is what librarianship in the UK is coming to - sadly defeatist. Good luck to the ALA in its stalwart attempts to keep censorship at bay in the US.

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