Today marks the beginning of Banned Books Week and the #BBReadathon. I am co-hosting the Banned Books Readathon with two lovely people I met on Twitter: Laura and Liza; we are very excited to be raising awareness about Banned Books Week and the proliferation of bannings and challenges that literature is still facing.
The aim of this coming week is straightforward: have fun and read banned or challenged titles. Even though I am working more days next week than I have any other week during September, I have compiled a rather ambitious TBR.
The Miseducation of Cameron Post
Why is it a banned or challenged title?: The Cape Henlopen School District Board once voted to add The Miseducation of Cameron Post to its summer reading list. However, the decision appeared to cause controversy, and the entire list was removed from the program. Officials claim that the decision was made due to the bad language and not the sexuality of the main character; however, many, including the author, do not believe this to be true. In an open letter to the school board danforth (who writes her name in lower case), displays her disappointment at the ‘insidious form of homophobia’ (danforth, e., 2014) the board was displaying. She also expresses pride that her book has made the list of banned and challenged titles. Noting the power banning a title can have, she says ‘It seems that everyone except you knows that censoring, or even attempting to censor a book, only makes it more appealing to curious readers’ (danforth, e., 2014). (Wong, C., 2014).
Persepolis I and II
Why is it a banned or challenged title?: Since Publication in 2003, initially in French, Persepolis has remained a controversial and banned title in Iran. This is unsurprising given the subject matter of this graphic memoir; it tells the story of Marjane Satrapi, her childhood in Iran and her migration to Vienna and Paris after the Iranian revolution (Masters, K., 2007). More surprising was the sudden censorship this book became subject to in Chicago, March 2013. Circumstances around this abrupt decision remain murky. However, emails between school officials seem to indicate that the decision was made after attention was drawn to a few panels which depicted torture (The comic book legal defense fund., undated). However, many students argued that these panels were no worse than images widely shown in history lessons during topics such as the Holocaust or slavery (Williams, M., undated).
Flowers for Algernon
Why is it a banned or challenged title?: Flowers for Algernon has a long and extensive history of being banned and/or challenged- it was the 43rd most banned book in the United States 1990-1991 (Tahersh., 2017) – many of these refer sexually explicit content. For example, this sci-fi novel was banned in Emporium, Pensylvania over concerns from parents that the sexual content would awaken their children’s ‘natural impulses’ (Munley, K., 2008).
Fire and Fury
Why is this a banned or challenged title?: If ever there was a book which proved emily danforth’s statement about intrigue and book censorship, it is this one. Fire and Fury dominated book-talk during the latter part of 2017 and the early months of this year. An expose on the chaos within the Trump White-House, Fire and Fury, led to the severing of the Trump-Bannon relationship but also led to the American President calling for legal action, a ban on publication, and for people to disregard every page as lies and slander (Gambino, L, Smith, D, Siddiqui, S and Helmore, E., 2018). However, Trump’s fury about the book has done the opposite. Rather than preventing people from reading it, this book shot to the number 1 spot on Amazon and the press, both negative and positive, encouraged the publishers to push the release date forward. Attempting to ban this book created a bestseller (Ha, T., 2018).
What will you be reading for the #BBReadathon? Let us know by tagging @BBReadathon – happy reading!