Popular kids' books spark controversy
It's been an interesting week so far.
Brandi and I went to the Wood County Public Library in Bowling Green on Monday to get some reading material in honor of Banned Books Week. I picked out American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis (#60 on the list of frequently challenged books). We also checked out The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood (#37), Brave New World by Aldous Huxley (#52), and Ordinary People by Judith Guest (#59). Brandi is planning to read one of those, but I'm not sure if she's decided yet which one it'll be.
American Psycho is interesting so far. I believe the issue with it is its graphic depiction of violence, which is something I really don't have a problem with. Of course, I haven't gotten to any violent passages yet, but the character in question is moving in that direction. At any rate, I doubt the book can be any worse than Exquisite Corpse by Poppy Z. Brite, a novel I read a few years ago for a class on horror fiction. That book was definitely graphic, and while I did have a few minor episodes of squeamishness over some of the descriptions, I certainly wasn't offended.
If anyone else has picked up a banned/challenged book for this week, I'd love to hear about it. Leave a comment below, or send me an e-mail.
I'm actually really interested in all the books we checked out. We have them until October 25. I don't know that I can put them all away in that time, but I'm going to give it a shot. I'm also working on Stephen King's latest, The Dark Tower. I don't really feel complete unless I'm working two or three books at once. Sometime soon I've got to get to some Star Wars books that I've been putting off for a while. They're starting to pile up, and with the release of the original trilogy on DVD, I'm in the right frame of mind to start knocking them down.
Most of the people I've talked to (virtually, for the most part, via message boards) about Banned Books Week have been pretty interested. It may be that Americans in general don't read as much as they should, but it also seems that the right to read what they want is one that most take seriously. There was one individual, however, who suggested that no books had ever been banned, and that having material removed from library shelves was simply "democracy in action." He's entitled to his opinion, of course, but my personal definition of democracy doesn't include someone else deciding what is or is not "appropriate" for me (or anyone else) to read.
The most important message that this week gives an opportunity to present is simply this: READ! It doesn't matter if this week you pick up something controversial or not, but pick something up. There is no downside: it's time well spent. It's relaxing. If you pick the right book, it's fun and entertaining. It's educational--I've picked up a ton of useless trivia over the years just by reading fiction, not to mention anything that's supposed to contain facts. It also improves your vocabulary and your writing skills (this is why it's especially important to get kids to read, which is why I would be in favor of the Harry Potter books even if I wasn't a big fan of them myself).
Read. A writer will thank you.