Thursday, September 29, 2005

Here's a meme we can all participate in

Via Majikthise and Pharyngula, I've learned of a meme we can all participate in. Yes, as I've mentioned before, this week is Banned Books week, and this meme involves listing how many of the American Library Association's Top 100 Challenged Books you've read. So, even though I haven't yet been invited, I'm crashing the party. Here we go. The one's I've read are in bold and red:
  1. Scary Stories (Series) by Alvin Schwartz
  2. Daddy’s Roommate by Michael Willhoite
  3. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
  4. The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier
  5. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
  6. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
  7. Harry Potter (Series) by J.K. Rowling
  8. Forever by Judy Blume
  9. Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
  10. Alice (Series) by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
  11. Heather Has Two Mommies by Leslea Newman
  12. My Brother Sam is Dead by James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier
  13. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
  14. The Giver by Lois Lowry
  15. It’s Perfectly Normal by Robie Harris
  16. Goosebumps (Series) by R.L. Stine
  17. A Day No Pigs Would Die by Robert Newton Peck
  18. The Color Purple by Alice Walker
  19. Sex by Madonna
  20. Earth’s Children (Series) by Jean M. Auel
  21. The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Paterson
  22. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
  23. Go Ask Alice by Anonymous
  24. Fallen Angels by Walter Dean Myers
  25. In the Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak
  26. The Stupids (Series) by Harry Allard
  27. The Witches by Roald Dahl
  28. The New Joy of Gay Sex by Charles Silverstein
  29. Anastasia Krupnik (Series) by Lois Lowry
  30. The Goats by Brock Cole
  31. Kaffir Boy by Mark Mathabane
  32. Blubber by Judy Blume
  33. Killing Mr. Griffin by Lois Duncan
  34. Halloween ABC by Eve Merriam
  35. We All Fall Down by Robert Cormier
  36. Final Exit by Derek Humphry
  37. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
  38. Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George
  39. The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
  40. What’s Happening to my Body? Book for Girls: A Growing-Up Guide for Parents & Daughters by Lynda Madaras
  41. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  42. Beloved by Toni Morrison
  43. The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
  44. The Pigman by Paul Zindel
  45. Bumps in the Night by Harry Allard
  46. Deenie by Judy Blume
  47. Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes
  48. Annie on my Mind by Nancy Garden
  49. The Boy Who Lost His Face by Louis Sachar
  50. Cross Your Fingers, Spit in Your Hat by Alvin Schwartz
  51. A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein
  52. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
  53. Sleeping Beauty Trilogy by A.N. Roquelaure (Anne Rice)
  54. Asking About Sex and Growing Up by Joanna Cole
  55. Cujo by Stephen King
  56. James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
  57. The Anarchist Cookbook by William Powell
  58. Boys and Sex by Wardell Pomeroy
  59. Ordinary People by Judith Guest
  60. American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis
  61. What’s Happening to my Body? Book for Boys: A Growing-Up Guide for Parents & Sons by Lynda Madaras
  62. Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume
  63. Crazy Lady by Jane Conly
  64. Athletic Shorts by Chris Crutcher
  65. Fade by Robert Cormier
  66. Guess What? by Mem Fox
  67. The House of Spirits by Isabel Allende
  68. The Face on the Milk Carton by Caroline Cooney
  69. Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
  70. Lord of the Flies by William Golding
  71. Native Son by Richard Wright
  72. Women on Top: How Real Life Has Changed Women’s Fantasies by Nancy Friday
  73. Curses, Hexes and Spells by Daniel Cohen
  74. Jack by A.M. Homes
  75. Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo A. Anaya
  76. Where Did I Come From? by Peter Mayle
  77. Carrie by Stephen King
  78. Tiger Eyes by Judy Blume
  79. On My Honor by Marion Dane Bauer
  80. Arizona Kid by Ron Koertge
  81. Family Secrets by Norma Klein
  82. Mommy Laid An Egg by Babette Cole
  83. The Dead Zone by Stephen King
  84. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
  85. Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison
  86. Always Running by Luis Rodriguez
  87. Private Parts by Howard Stern
  88. Where’s Waldo? by Martin Hanford
  89. Summer of My German Soldier by Bette Greene
  90. Little Black Sambo by Helen Bannerman
  91. Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett
  92. Running Loose by Chris Crutcher
  93. Sex Education by Jenny Davis
  94. The Drowning of Stephen Jones by Bette Greene
  95. Girls and Sex by Wardell Pomeroy
  96. How to Eat Fried Worms by Thomas Rockwell
  97. View from the Cherry Tree by Willo Davis Roberts
  98. The Headless Cupid by Zilpha Keatley Snyder
  99. The Terrorist by Caroline Cooney
  100. Jump Ship to Freedom by James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier
Hmmm. Only 19. I was hoping for at least 20. I almost counted Madonna's Sex, except honesty demands that I admit that, although I did pick it up in a bookstore and and browse it once, I didn't exactly "read it." I'm sure know what I mean.

Of course, I'll never get to 100, given that I have absolutely no interest in some of these books (like Goosebumps, The New Joy of Gay Sex, or any of the Judy Blume books). Also, some of the books on the list aren't necessarily good. Just because someone has tried to get a book banned doesn't mean it's a good book. On the other hand, I have no idea which of the other books on the list I should check out. So, everyone, you can crash the party too. Which of these books have you read? Which ones should I check out (that is, if I ever manage to get through the pile of unread books that I have lying around)?

23 example(s) of insolence returned:


At 9/29/2005 8:50 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wouldn't be too dismissive of Judy Blume, though if you don't have a daughter, I can certainly see why you would have no reason to read her stuff.

I think I need to reread The Handmaid's Tale. I don't know what you would think about it, but it is a somwhat interesting feminist science fiction (though Atwood would probably deny that she wrote a science fiction novel). Admittedly, I think The Gate to Women's Country and The Female Man are better, but the US has been inching towards Republic of Gileadness lately...

Sorry if this is a bit rambling. The caffeine hasn't hit my brain yet. :)

-Sylvanite

 

At 9/29/2005 9:04 AM, Blogger Kristjan Wager said...

Atwood usually refers to The Handmaid's Tale as a dystopia, which makes sense. It's not my impression that she is adverse to being old that some of ehr books are science fiction.

I find The Handmaid's Tale a quite powerful book.

 

At 9/29/2005 9:31 AM, Anonymous Vasha said...

If you're interested in reading some of the children's books you missed, I heartily recommend Julie of the Wolves. It was one of the books that made the deepest impression on me in my youth. The sequel is not to be recommended, though -- it rather undermines the effect of the first.

 

At 9/29/2005 10:20 AM, Blogger M@ said...

Woo hoo, I'm at at least 24. There are a couple of books that I'm not sure I read during my teen years.

The funny thing about this list is that it includes bans from both sides of the spectrum -- those banned by the politically correct (e.g. Huckleberry Finn) and those banned by the Jesusly correct (e.g. whoever it was who had Two Mommies).

As for Atwood, he last book (Oryx and Crake) was definitely speculative fiction. I don't think she has a problem with her novels being classified as SF.

(Personally, I think she has a problem with her whole literary career having been a matter of rewriting one mediocre novel again and again, but here the Canadian literary establishment and I differ.)

Reading this list, I feel compelled to read more Robert Cormier. I remember being so stunned after reading the Chocolate War that I immediately read it again. I should find a copy and give it yet another look.

 

At 9/29/2005 10:30 AM, Blogger HaloJonesFan said...

Who the hell would ban "How To Eat Fried Worms"?

PS spambot word for this post was "upclod". lol

 

At 9/29/2005 10:57 AM, Anonymous HCN said...

I'm up to 17 (counting the Harry Potter books as a "1", I have read all of them). I'm not counting _Catcher in the Rye_ because I only skimmed it, and I did not care much for it.

Several of the books are on my list for future reads, like _The Giver_ by Lois Lowry (I've been told it has similar themes to _Brave New World_). I know my daughter has read _The Giver_, and _Julie of the Wolves_. (By the way, she is a voracious 6th grade reader with a much higher ability than her grade, so finding good books that she will read and are appropriate is a challenge).

I read _The Handmaid's Tale_ while very pregnant and suffering from a nasty cold. It is extremely powerful with raging hormones, stuffy nose and dealing with a very cute toddler.

 

At 9/29/2005 11:33 AM, Blogger hollywoodjaded said...

22

 

At 9/29/2005 12:53 PM, Anonymous tutor said...

I'd recommend The Color Purple by Alice Walker and In The House of Spirits by Isabel Allende.

AS for Atwood's Handmaid's Tale: it's sf all right, but sf that never would have made it if not by a mainstream author. Lots of other writers have done the topic much better. James Tiptree (aka Alice Sheldon) wrote far more complex and stylistically stronger pieces.

Notice that most of the books are for children and young adults; the banners and would-be banners favoritereason for banning is "protecting our children"

 

At 9/29/2005 1:08 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey, I hit 17 (What can I say I was a 10-12 year old girl in the late 70's when all of those Judy Bloom books came out and my friends and I passed them around. I once even got in trouble for checking one of them out of the local library. The librarian let me have it and then realized she shouldn't have and called my mom and made me bring it back. I was sooo embarrassed that I stopped going to the library for at least a couple of years.)
BTW, Orac, if you want to make it 20, I have a beat up old paperback copy of "A Day No Pigs Would Die" that you could probably polish off in an evening.

Mrs. Orac

 

At 9/29/2005 1:14 PM, Blogger Robert M. said...

Apparently today is my personal de-lurking day... hi, all!

I haven't counted, but I'd say I've read at least thirty of those. If I had to recommend... I'd say start with Allende's House of Spirits, and move on to Silverstein's Light in the Attic (some of his poetry is for children, but some of it is also relevant for adults).

Then go read Harry Potter again... just 'cause.

Has anyone else noted that Where's Waldo is kind of an outlier? It's the opposite of controversial literature.

 

At 9/29/2005 3:02 PM, Blogger ebohlman said...

I suspect (but can't prove) that the objections to Where's Waldo come from the sort of woo-woos who look at perfectly innocent images and see something sexual, sort of like the complaints that one Disney animation (I forget which one) displayed a man showing an erection (normal people perceived it as a knee). Optical illusions leading to cortical delusions.

I also remember hearing Where's Waldo being critcized for "not being educational enough." Apparently every aspect of a child's life has to be preparation for a high GPA and SAT; letting kids have simple, harmless fun is so last century.

 

At 9/29/2005 3:08 PM, Blogger Joseph said...

They don't have Mary Poppins on the list?

 

At 9/29/2005 4:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have to say Judy Blume definitely was all the rage when I was a pre-teen...and she has to get some serious props for doing something right because she is apparently very "ban worthy" judging by how of her books are on the list.

I must say what disturbs me the most is the inclusion of the "what's happening to my body" books by Madaras. No need to wonder why America has such teen pregnancy/STD issues.....

 

At 9/29/2005 4:40 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"A light in the attic" is a banned book???

 

At 9/29/2005 4:47 PM, Anonymous Sean Foley said...

I got 23. In terms of ones you missed, Pillars of the Earth is pretty good, assuming you want to read a book about the construction of a medieval cathedral.

 

At 9/29/2005 4:52 PM, Blogger HaloJonesFan said...

I can understand why Pillars would have gotten tapped, though; as with most Ken Follet stuff, the sex scenes are right out of the Penthouse letters column.

 

At 9/29/2005 6:06 PM, Blogger Dead Last Wizard said...

I am not sure what it says about me, but I have read 61 on the list. My little sister was 12 years younger than me and then was a elementary ed major. I found the Jean Auel series to be very insolent. Neanderthal man and homo sapiens interacting ie having sex together. Gimme a break.

Do read Pillars of the Earth. The Colour Purple was better as a movie. Ordinary People was an excellent book and movie. Read first then rent.

Of the kids books The Chocolate War and Bridge to Terabithia

 

At 9/30/2005 10:58 AM, Anonymous Skeptyk said...

Okay, so I read 32 on this list, and only one Judy Blume, but I have to wonder whether no one is reading P.L. Travers' "Mary Poppins" books anyomore, because they would surely raise a few hackles with the book ban fans.

Maybe they think the movie musical reflects the book, and it does, kinda sorta. But, as charming as the movie was to me as a kid, the books themselves, read later, are more complex, with a shadowy wildness, a sensuousness. Sure Harry Potter and much of the good and even great fantasy books are creative, but they are appealing in part because they are so sympathetically human and emotionally familiar. Mary Poppins is another thing altogether, and her otherwordliness and wisdom and sly magic are all the more effective as they are set in the world that is familiar and nostalgic (via novels, since few readers today lived in the class or locale of P.L. Travers childhoods).

I do not think the Mary Sheperd illustrations help, but rather hurt, the text, though, and their cuteness belies the wierdness of the strange nanny.

Yep, I agree with the previous poster, Mary Poppins was missed by the book haters, but it is also missed by most readers, and that is a shame.

 

At 9/30/2005 11:06 AM, Anonymous HCN said...

Due to the inspiration of this topic I sent my daughter off to school this morning with a sweatshirt emblazened with "I read banned books." in large red type.

 

At 9/30/2005 12:18 PM, Anonymous Susang said...

Hey! For once I've actually read more books than you have! My total books read from that list is 39.

 

At 9/30/2005 8:21 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

25 here, most of them I haven't read in years-my parents were wonderful with books.
Orac, if the books you've read reflect your literary tastes, I think you'll enjoy The Handmaid's Tale. Give it a try.

 

At 10/01/2005 1:32 PM, Blogger Porlock Junior said...

Maybe I can claim to have read fewer than anyone else. OTOH I read Huckleberry Finn in high school because at that time (circa 1958) it had been banned in New York. See?--these book bannings are useful.

If you want to make 20, you could read Little Black Sambo in a minute or two. At one time it was a Standard Little Kid Story. It too came under fire in the 50s (remember those complacent racist 1950s?), and we sophisticates noted that it wasn't about Black people in Africa but technically White people in India, so what's the big deal?
A. Like, you know, tigers?
B. Right: insensitivity to slights to South Asians; but the objections were cast in terms of American racial politics, and South Asians didn't enter into the debate at all in those days.

Funny that Just So Stories didn't make the list. It is full of offensive attitudes, and uses one unprintable word quite casually. Picture this: you're reading these fondly remembered stories to your little kid, and you find yourself starting to read this sentence spoken by the wise old Ethiopian "... black's the best color for a " Whhoooops. Mumble mumble. "...for me, anyway"?

Solution: in later readings, it becomes "black's the best color for people anyway." How's that for multicultural and for an accurate representation of what the Ethiopian certainly feels?

Marvelous stories. The Butterfly That Stamped is truly hilarious and teaches a Valuable Lesson about humility. Pity it's monstrously sexist. I read it to my kids anyway and it didn't corrupt them.

 

At 10/06/2005 1:38 AM, Anonymous cj said...

I've read 45 of them, some as a kid, some more recently. I have to agree with the person who said don't count Judy Blume out. She recently edited a collection of stories and novel excerpts call, "Places I Never Meant To Be" that is all from banned authors. (Yeah, that book has been banned, too!) Anyway, the book is great (it's banned for so many reasons, sort of like a greatest hits of banning). Also, the money goes to an organization to protect the First Ammendment.

I also have to say that as a teacher, I assigned banned books to my students. One of them published a book review of "Heather Has Two Mommies" in the school newspaper.

Even my reluctant readers had a banned books project -- posters about the book that we could hang in the school library. Most of the books were available in the school library, too. Made me proud of our school. I gave out bookmarks and hung banned books posters all over my room.

It's interesting -- the range of banned books spanns everything. Even the Bible has been banned (Lot slept with his daughters and the world ended up with Moabites and Canaanites, therefore, incest, and Noah got drunk after the flood, so drunk in public.)

My students really seemed to enjoy this activity. FOr once, doing homework felt subversive!

 

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