28 September 2015

5 Banned Books on my TBR

This week is Banned Books Week, an annual event from the American Library Association. Banned Books Week aims to highlight the problem of censorship in literature and celebrate the freedom to read. I think the freedom to read and the right to choose the things you read are really important so to celebrate, I've put together a list of banned books that I'd love to read - some of the reasons they were banned might surprise you!

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
If you're familiar with the story of Alice in Wonderland, you might think that a certain caterpillar's recreational drug habit is a fairly logical reason for the banning of Lewis Carroll's children's classic. However, this isn't what Governor Ho Chien of Hunan province, China, objected to when he banned the book in 1931 - it was the talking animals. He feared that this would teach children to think of humans and animals on the same level - a 'disastrous' insult to humans.
I actually picked up a really pretty editon recently, to celebrate Alice's 150th birthday!

Black Beauty by Anna Sewell
Banned in South Africa during apartheid, simply because of the two words in the title. It was assumed to be a book about civil rights without even being read - a real lesson in never judging a book by its cover!
One of my goals is to read some classic children's literature which, for one reason or another, passed me by when I was younger (you might sense that theme in this post). I have a vivid memory of being shown the film when I was in Year 5 or 6 at school and being moved to tears!

All Quiet on The Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque
I recently read Birdsong and I'd love to read more WW1 fiction. All Quiet on the Western Front is a widely respected novel, and only around 300 pages so a nice short read. It was banned in Nazi Germany as it didn't look too kindly on the German forces.

The Wonderful Wizard of OZ by L. Frank Baum
This classic children's book was banned across 1930s America, and then again in the 1950s, for promoting 'unwholesome values.' What unwholesome values, you ask? Many took issue with Dorothy's independent nature - not a desirable trait in a woman back then. There was also the subject of witches and flying monkeys which, let's face it, are pretty scary!

The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret AtwoodThe novel is set in a dystopian, anti-feminist future in which women have gradually lost all freedoms afforded to them by equal rights. Although I haven't read it, I know that it draws scarily accurate parallels with today's society where women's rights are still contested in a lot of ways. Meant to offend and make you think, it was actually first banned in Texas as it was viewed as disrespectful to Christianity.

Have you read any banned books, or are you planning on reading any? If you've read any of the above, I'd love to know what you thought! Find out more about on the Banned Books Week website or follow on Twitter!

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