FREADOM

Banned Books Week, celebrated since 1982, kicked off again yesterday. Library Thing listed their list of books tagged as banned in their catalog and I gave it a look. Completely unplanned by me is the fact that just last night I began to read Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, a favorite author. I hadn’t read it since high school and then I only skimmed it enough to pass the quizzes or tests on the book. So I bought it last week in order to read it once I finished Diane Setterfield’s The Thirteenth Tale. The significance of 451 degrees Fahrenheit, for those  who do not know, is that it is the temperature in which book paper starts to burn.

Actually, I’m set to read three banned books this month. Having never read Slaughterhouse-Five I picked it up at the same time as Fahrenheit 451. And I bought Bram Stoker’s Dracula six months ago to read before Halloween and there it is…near the bottom of the list. I read it way back when, but in this age of sparkly metrosexual vampires I wanted to go back to where it all began.

The first line of Fahrenheit 451 is “It was a pleasure to burn.” This got me to thinking of great first lines in books and I’ve already started writing about that for another day. Last night I had a long conversation with one of my best friends and we were talking about books and book burnings. She and I agreed that when this happens, something is lost. An opportunity fades. A decision is made for us. A choice is taken away.

Last week I wrote about technology and the Kindle, and how uncomfortable I get when I think of all of the writings, ideas, thoughts and works of man being in a sense owned by one or two companies. And of course book burnings, or threats of book burnings, have been in the news a lot of late. I wish I’d thought of it a few weeks ago, but these events remind me of a powerful episode of The Waltons from the fifth season (“The Fire Storm”), starting at at the 40 second mark below:

A chilling photo essay is here.

If we lose our books to technology, we lose the opportunity we have to be informed. If we lose them to banishment, we willingly condemn ourselves to ignorance. Reading is an ultimate freedom.

I’m stunned by how many of these books I’ve read and boldfaced those I have already read (or am reading). Exit Question: What was the last banned or challenged book that you’ve read?

  1. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
  2. Lady Chatterley’s Lover by D. H. Lawrence
  3. The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger
  4. Ulysses by James Joyce
  5. The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier
  6. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  7. Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
  8. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J. K. Rowling
  9. Tropic of Cancer by Henry Miller
  10. The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer
  11. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
  12. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
  13. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
  14. The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie
  15. Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell
  16. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J. K. Rowling
  17. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J. K. Rowling
  18. 100 Banned Books: Censorship Histories of World Literature by Nicholas J. Karolides
  19. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J. K. Rowling
  20. Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
  21. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J. K. Rowling
  22. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
  23. The Giver by Lois Lowry
  24. Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
  25. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
  26. Forever… by Judy Blume
  27. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J. K. Rowling
  28. Animal Farm by George Orwell
  29. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J. K. Rowling
  30. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
  31. Lord of the Flies by William Golding
  32. A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
  33. Fanny Hill by John Cleland
  34. The Color Purple by Alice Walker
  35. And Tango Makes Three by Peter Parnell
  36. Candide by Voltaire
  37. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
  38. Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
  39. Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress by Dai Sijie
  40. American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis
  41. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
  42. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  43. A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway
  44. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
  45. Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe
  46. The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton
  47. Annie on My Mind by Nancy Garden
  48. The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman
  49. The Story of Little Black Sambo by Helen Bannerman
  50. Beloved by Toni Morrison
  51. Naked Lunch by William S. Burroughs
  52. Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes
  53. Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books by Azar Nafisi
  54. The Sledding Hill by Chris Crutcher
  55. The Decameron by Giovanni Boccaccio
  56. Go Ask Alice by Anonymous
  57. A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein
  58. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
  59. One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Alexander Solzhenitsyn
  60. In the Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak
  61. Rabbit, Run by John Updike
  62. Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
  63. Tropic of Capricorn by Henry Miller
  64. The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
  65. The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
  66. Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman
  67. Heather Has Two Mommies by Lesléa Newman
  68. As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
  69. Athletic Shorts: Six Short Stories by Chris Crutcher
  70. It’s Perfectly Normal: Changing Bodies, Growing Up, Sex, and Sexual Health (The Family Library) by Robie H. Harris
  71. Memoirs of Hecate County by Edmund Wilson
  72. The Goats by Brock Cole
  73. Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark by Alvin Schwartz
  74. James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
  75. The Prince by Niccolò Machiavelli
  76. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
  77. Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak
  78. On the Origin of Species by Charles Darwin
  79. Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume
  80. Moll Flanders by Daniel Defoe
  81. Last Exit to Brooklyn by Jr. Hubert Selby
  82. The Subtle Knife by Philip Pullman
  83. Odyssey by Homer
  84. The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
  85. All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque
  86. The Well of Loneliness by Radclyffe Hall
  87. His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman
  88. The Fellowship of the Ring by J. R. R. Tolkien
  89. Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
  90. Singing from the Well (King Penguin) by Reinaldo Arenas
  91. Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
  92. Blubber by Judy Blume
  93. Cujo by Stephen King
  94. Whale Talk by Chris Crutcher
  95. Women in Love by D. H. Lawrence
  96. Carrie by Stephen King
  97. East of Eden by John Steinbeck
  98. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
  99. Borstal Boy by Brendan Behan
  100. The Confessions of Jean-Jacques Rousseau by Jean-Jacques Rousseau

A few others that I own made the list further down, outside of the Top 100:

Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
Dracula by Bram Stoker
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis
The Complete Grimm’s Fairy Tales by Jacob Grimm
The Dead Zone by Stephen King
The Stand by Stephen King
The Bible
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
The Two Towers by J.R.R. Tolkien
The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton
The Return of the King by J.R.R. Tolkien
I Am The Cheese by Robert Cormier
It by Stephen King
The Gulag Archipelago by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

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