the past sunday, september 21st, was the beginning of banned books week. i didn’t put much thought to it until i received an email from buzzfeed books with some hilarious article about it. until a few days ago, i didn’t even know what banned books actually were. sure, they’re books that “some official person” deemed inappropriate. big whoop. so after that article, i went to do some research and found out why some of my favorite books were banned. (can you believe harry potter is banned because there are wizards?!) ((though i didn’t even finish the harry potter series. don’t worry; i’m getting through it.) after that, i went to collect a few of my banned books:
in all honesty, i’ve only read one book (which was gatsby) in this stack and most of these aren’t even mine – they’re my sister’s! (lord of the flies is also borrowed from a friend.) so, theoretically, i shouldn’t have much to say about this topic. but my lack of so-called experience doesn’t make me any less enthusiastic.
i used to avoid the classics because i felt those were the types of books “old people” read (aka my sister). high schoolers and college students read that stuff, and i wasn’t nearly old enough (fifth or sixth grade, alright). but now that i’m halfway through high school, i feel obligated to make it through these books. *adds to piling tbr list*
okay, so in this stack i’ve read four of the books, which isn’t as bad. i’ve read more of these because i didn’t feel like they were any different from other modern books: paper towns is also written by john green, what makes it different from looking for alaska? (update: the fault in our stars is a banned book as well?? people are surely crazy.)
reasons why these books are banned:
language, sexual reference, drugs/alcohol/smoking, homosexuality, unsuited for age group, etc.
should this matter?
in my opinion, no! i think the real reason why these books are banned is because the people (who ban them) are afraid. it’s a similar idea to the giver, which is ironic because that’s another banned book. in the giver, the emotions of pain, terror, and suffering are spared for the price of happiness, color, and love. another great example is from john green’s the fault in our stars: “without pain, how could we know joy?” or more accurately, “without pain, how would we understand joy?” as john green points out in the book, joy and happiness would still be there, but we wouldn’t understand or appreciate it without pain. the same is with all works of life and art. i read this wonderful blog post on rookie that explained the importance of darkness and other so-called inappropriate things. everyone needs to read this.
why are banned-books necessary?
dark books make me think. they throw me into a pitch-black hole with questions and insecurities; they make me think about all the topics people often avoid talking about; basically they put me in an existential crisis. most people won’t tell you the things you don’t want to hear. no one wants to talk about drugs, sex, or death – it makes people uncomfortable, so we avoid it. these books are one of the few places where you can fall into the darkness and horror, without having to experience it firsthand. these books are vital. (though some of these accusations are just plain dumb: captain underpants?!) just like as i said earlier, “without pain, how would we understand joy?” the same could be said here: “without dark, how would we understand light?”
people are saying some of these aren’t “age appropriate,” but changing a number, an age, won’t change our maturity. it’s not like i’m a brand new person on my birthday. if people were to treat us, teenagers and even children, as toddlers, how will they expect us to grow? they’re holding us back from the real world. it’s not like the moment we turn twenty-one, we’ll understand the ‘dark truth’ of our universe. that’s something we learn overtime, which is why i love these books. of course, i won’t read all of them for fun, but they’re most definitely necessary.
in conclusion, if you refuse to read banned books, you’re a wimp. (not to be offensive or judgement, but it’s true.) here’s to the freedom to read!