Banned Books Week – our top 5

by Leigh Milligan, Head Editor, INALJ Wisconsin

Banned Books Week – our top 5 (pt 1)

Leigh MilliganOne of my favorite weeks of the year to promote libraries is Banned Books Week. Banned Books Week is the annual celebration of the Freedom to Read.  Libraries and bookstores all over the world bring attention to the problem of censorship and participate in Banned Books Week through displays of banned and challenged books and hosting events.

I love Banned Books Week! As a librarian, I fight against censorship and I support intellectual freedom. I believe in that everyone is entitled to free access of information, and that no book or information that one is looking for is to be restricted.

A lot of my favorite books have been put on these banned and challenged books lists. It’s not because I like to read books with explicit material.  I read all types of books and love them all! It just happens that the books I choose to read are on topics that tend to be controversial which leads to books being banned and challenged.

I am always interested to see who will continue to make the list year after year, and what new books will make the list.  My fiancé Don Bush, history major, and I have decided to participate in Banned Books Week this year by creating personal top 5 lists of our favorite banned/challenged books. Along with this, we have both pledged to read 2 more banned books during banned books week, and there will be a review of these books in a future blog post.

Now for our top 5 lists!

Leigh’s Top 5

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood – I read this book during my Feminist Science Fiction class in college. This book helped me to realize how much I enjoy feminist readings.  I was recently reintroduced to the author Margaret Atwood recently as she narrates for an app I use while running, Zombies Run! I really enjoy her writing and I want to read more of her work. This book actually kind of makes sense for Banned Books Week because the women in this book weren’t allowed to read and were not in control of their decisions.

The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison – I also read this book in college. I really enjoyed this book because of how powerful of a message Toni Morrison delivered in her writing. It had me understand the pain and suffering black women had to deal with during the 1940s, and I could understand why Pecola wished she was a blonde-haired, blue-eyed girl.

Go Ask Alice by Anonymous – I read this book while I was in high school. I always found this book intriguing, as the writer of the diary was anonymous. While this diary was fictional, I was never really able to know and connect to whom the writer was, but that’s why I liked the boom so much. The narrator of the book never really knew who she was, and hid herself behind drugs. This book gave a great anti-drug message to teenagers and a powerful message to all.

The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold – I read this book in high school and I enjoyed this book so much, I created a quilt with the different themes on it. Every time I have read this book since high school, I have not been able to put it down. It’s a great story with a mix of coming of age themes, fantasy, family, and mystery.

Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak – This book is one of my childhood favorites. I always had an imaginative mind like Max and I was able to connect to this story. In later years, I became very interested in stories about Sendak, his artwork, and his other works through many visits to the Rosenbach Museum in Philadelphia. I was so sad when Sendak passed away but I still visit the Rosenbach to this day.

Don’s Top 5

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky – I read this book when I was 15, the same age as its protagonist, Charlie. This book has a major impact on me because I really identified with Charlie, as I too was a shy kid at the times. This is a great coming of age story!

Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card – I read this around the same age I read The Perks of Being a Wallflower. This book was my first step into science fiction literature. It was very accessible because the book’s protagonist, Ender, is very relatable. This coming of age story addressed some pretty heavy topics like alienation and dealing with negative consequences of your own actions.

Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk –  I read this book in my late teens. Fight Club is a scathing look at consumer culture and the state of masculinity in America. This book is a great read for any brooding anti-capitalists.

Animal Farm by George Orwell – This book taught me how a utopian society could fall apart through the microcosm of a farm. Remember, “all animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others.”

Catcher in the Rye: This book does touch on some dark subjects, but it is the absolute, quintessential coming of age story.

Please don’t forget to participate in Banned Books Week September 22, 2013- September 28, 2013!

Here’s some additional reading on Banned Books Week:

Banned and Challenged Books

Banned Books Week Official Website

Banned Books Week Facebook

Intellectual Freedom and Censorship Q & A

15 Classic Children’s Books That Have Been Banned in America

Toni Morrison Responds to Ohio School Board Prez

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