Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Most Challenged Library Books Meme

I take pride in the fact that I am well-read (or at least I thought I was), and I was ready to brag to you, dear readers, that the NYC public library system finally sent me email yesterday telling me that two books on my subversive reading list are on reserve for me (I've been waiting for more than three months!). The two reserved books are Beyond Good and Evil and Democracy and Education. Unfortunately, my moment of excitement was brief, especially since I just read the American Library Association's Most Challenged Books list and found that my literary breadth is sorely lacking. I copied their list below, and I've denoted the books that I've already read with black font while those I've heard of but haven't read -- yet -- are denoted with an * (asterisk). [this from Majikthise via Pharyngula].


001. Scary Stories (Series) by Alvin Schwartz

002. Daddy’s Roommate by Michael Willhoite

003. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

004. The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier *

005. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

006. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

007. Harry Potter (Series) by J.K. Rowling

008. Forever by Judy Blume

009. Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson *

010. Alice (Series) by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor

011. Heather Has Two Mommies by Leslea Newman *

012. My Brother Sam is Dead by James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier

013. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

014. The Giver by Lois Lowry

015. It’s Perfectly Normal by Robie Harris *

016. Goosebumps (Series) by R.L. Stine *

017. A Day No Pigs Would Die by Robert Newton Peck *

018. The Color Purple by Alice Walker

019. Sex by Madonna *

020. Earth’s Children (Series) by Jean M. Auel

021. The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Paterson

022. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle

023. Go Ask Alice by Anonymous *

024. Fallen Angels by Walter Dean Myers

025. In the Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak

026. The Stupids (Series) by Harry Allard

027. The Witches by Roald Dahl

028. The New Joy of Gay Sex by Charles Silverstein

029. Anastasia Krupnik (Series) by Lois Lowry

030. The Goats by Brock Cole

031. Kaffir Boy by Mark Mathabane

032. Blubber by Judy Blume

033. Killing Mr. Griffin by Lois Duncan

034. Halloween ABC by Eve Merriam

035. We All Fall Down by Robert Cormier *

036. Final Exit by Derek Humphry

037. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

038. Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George

039. The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison

040. What’s Happening to my Body? Book for Girls: A Growing-Up Guide for Parents & Daughters by Lynda Madaras

041. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

042. Beloved by Toni Morrison

043. The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton

044. The Pigman by Paul Zindel

045. Bumps in the Night by Harry Allard

046. Deenie by Judy Blume

047. Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes

048. Annie on my Mind by Nancy Garden

049. The Boy Who Lost His Face by Louis Sachar

050. Cross Your Fingers, Spit in Your Hat by Alvin Schwartz

051. A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein *

052. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

053. Sleeping Beauty Trilogy by A.N. Roquelaure (Anne Rice)

054. Asking About Sex and Growing Up by Joanna Cole

055. Cujo by Stephen King

056. James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl

057. The Anarchist Cookbook by William Powell *

058. Boys and Sex by Wardell Pomeroy

059. Ordinary People by Judith Guest *

060. American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis *

061. What’s Happening to my Body? Book for Boys: A Growing-Up Guide for Parents & Sons by Lynda Madaras *

062. Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume

063. Crazy Lady by Jane Conly

064. Athletic Shorts by Chris Crutcher

065. Fade by Robert Cormier

066. Guess What? by Mem Fox

067. The House of Spirits by Isabel Allende *

068. The Face on the Milk Carton by Caroline Cooney

069. Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut

070. Lord of the Flies by William Golding *

071. Native Son by Richard Wright

072. Women on Top: How Real Life Has Changed Women’s Fantasies by Nancy Friday

073. Curses, Hexes and Spells by Daniel Cohen

074. Jack by A.M. Homes

075. Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo A. Anaya

076. Where Did I Come From? by Peter Mayle *

077. Carrie by Stephen King *

078. Tiger Eyes by Judy Blume

079. On My Honor by Marion Dane Bauer

080. Arizona Kid by Ron Koertge

081. Family Secrets by Norma Klein

082. Mommy Laid An Egg by Babette Cole

083. The Dead Zone by Stephen King

084. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain

085. Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison

086. Always Running by Luis Rodriguez

087. Private Parts by Howard Stern

088. Where’s Waldo? by Martin Hanford

089. Summer of My German Soldier by Bette Greene

090. Little Black Sambo by Helen Bannerman

091. Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett

092. Running Loose by Chris Crutcher

093. Sex Education by Jenny Davis

094. The Drowning of Stephen Jones by Bette Greene

095. Girls and Sex by Wardell Pomeroy

096. How to Eat Fried Worms by Thomas Rockwell

097. View from the Cherry Tree by Willo Davis Roberts

098. The Headless Cupid by Zilpha Keatley Snyder

099. The Terrorist by Caroline Cooney

100. Jump Ship to Freedom by James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier


I am ashamed to admit that my score was a mere 27 books read and 44 titles that I've ever heard of from this list. What are your scores?


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© 2004, 2005, 2006 by GrrlScientist

8 Peer Reviews:

Blogger jamie said...

You've been waiting for 3 whole months for Democracy and Education? From a library in NYC? And I thought the public library in Big Southern Bank City was lacking . . .

Dewey's book is available online here:
http://www.ilt.columbia.edu/publications/dewey.html

I have hard time reading books on a computer screen, but there it is, if you wish. I had a very Deweyan English prof for 2 semesters, and I am thankful beyond words.

8:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wouldn't be ashamed of a low score on this list. There's all sorts of drek on this list (you've been in NYC long enough to know the word drek, right?). Howard Stern - at best, the man is the human equivalent of fliers tacked up on phone poles. Pollution. Madonna? And TWO by Stephen King? The mere fact that they were challenged doesn't mean they are worth reading - particularly when you realize that people who challenge books tend to be idiots.

Ellen

7:57 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have to agree with Ellen. Just because someone wants to ban a book doesn't mean it's worth reading. Every so often THE MYTH OF SIX MILLION (forward by Noam Chomsky) tries to make it into a library and gets bounced. Now I may be a free speech fanatic myself (after being on the receiving end of some radical feminists who were trying to ban an erotic film I attempted to show in the 80's), but there are some titles which even I cannot stomach. Hmmmm...LOLITA didn't make it on that list either?

8:22 AM  
Blogger Alon Levy said...

Well, Ellen's right, though many books on this list are very good - off the top of my head, Beloved won Toni Morrison the Nobel Prize. I've only read 4 (Slaughterhouse 5, Brave New World, and two I'd rather not tell anyone I've read because they're crap), but there are several more on the list I'd like to read, and probably I'd end up reading about 30-40 on that list. But at any rate, I reserve the right to be naturally suspicious of any list that includes Goosebumps, Sex, and Harry Potter.

9:27 AM  
Blogger GrrlScientist said...

Jamie: I was astonished at the long wait, too. I am looking forward to picking up the books tomorrow, though, which is a good day to do so since I am finishing Sophie's World in the next day or two. (For those of you who are curious; Sophie's World is a novel that explores the history of philosophical thought throughout the ages).

Ellen: you don't need to live in NYC to know what the word "drek" means! It's a very useful word, in fact. And yes, I am sure there are several books on that list that qualify. Incidentally, I am surprised that Where's Waldo is on that list .. I actually own all three of the books in that series, and enjoy looking at them when my brain is hurting. But to the best of my knowledge, there aren't any words in any of them, except on the signs in the pictures, and since they are published for kids, I cannot imagine what makes them so danged offensive.

Anonymous: well, I agree that challenged books are not necessarily worth reading. But because many people do think this way, I would like to start a meme where people will challenge my first published book. If I can get 9 million people to challenge it, the book's popularity will explode and I'll suddenly have a best-seller! This would give me lot$ of dough to live on while I write something that I really enjoy (and maybe I could afford to fund my own research, too!).

And yeah .. where is Lolita on that list??

Alon: you are too cranky when it comes to Harry Potter! As you know, I love those books and have read them all multiple times (alas, I have only read the sixth book 4 times, but I've read the others many MANY times .. more times each than I have fingers to count with, in fact!)

GrrlScientist

2:16 PM  
Blogger Tabor said...

I've read a bunch of these because I used to evaluate books for a county library system a number of years ago. Most of these are on the list because they are about youth or written for youth. And, yes, they are not GREAT literature.

3:28 PM  
Anonymous C. Corax said...

Then there are any number of books that you know would be banned if the people who are into banning books were literate to know they existed. We've probably all read a bunch in that category.

I hadn't read most of those books, or heard of many of them, even. Some I've heard of but wasn't interested in. But I don't have any reason to be familiar with children's literature (except Harry Potter, which is enjoyable enough for adults who have a sense of humor). I can make the claim to infamy that I took a writing workshop with Leslea Newman before she published Heather Has Two Mommies. In some respects, she was a brilliant teacher; in other respects, I hated the workshop. I didn't re-up at the end of the session--the negatives outweighed the positives for me.

I think if you mention evolution in your first book, or question "intelligent design," you can get it banned. Definitely a noble goal to be working towards, GrrlScientist!

8:51 PM  
Blogger Alon Levy said...

I know I'm cranky when it comes to Harry Potter... I'm not sure whether I get crankier when it comes to The Da Vinci Code, which I found horrendous and even shallower than Harry Potter.

About getting your book challenged, just make sure it's about a controversial topic, and it'll get challenged without your actively trying to spread this meme. My book's main theme is that religion is destructive and totalitarian; if by a miracle it gets published and people start hearing about it, religious fanatics will do their utmost to censor it. Write something like this and you'll easily get under the religiosu right's skin.

11:39 AM  

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