Thursday, September 26, 2013

Views on Book Banning

In honor of Banned Books Week, I thought I would write up a post on it. Banned Books Week could not have come at a better time for me. Just a few days ago, I had a great chat over Twitter with Emily about book banning. It really got me thinking to the point I had so much to say that I had to say it. So here I am, at my computer typing away.

Credit to Arial at In Italics for this gorgeous graphic! View more here.

Like most bloggers (and I say bloggers because that is the only demographic I have a decent knowledge about), I am not a proponent of book banning. I do not think someone has the right to judge or determine what people can or cannot read.

However, it doesn't seem to me that 'book banners' mean to offend people. They're just trying to protect, most often, the youth of our society. We've seen enough in the media to recognize all the scary things our teenagers face now: cursing, sex, drugs, alcohol. And the fact that this happens on a day-to-day basis can be really unnerving for some people because they have absolutely no control over it whatsoever. And I guess if they can somewhat limit the exposure to drugs and alcohol and sex and cursing, then we as teenagers are less likely to get involved with them? Just some speculation, to be fair I suppose. To offer both sides of the story.

But even though I think that book banners have good intentions, I also think it's wrong to be so judgemental and opposed to a book because it has an abundance of swearing, or that it has some sex scenes. Firstly, isn't this the reality? This IS what life for teenagers really is and it's laughable to think that not allowing someone to read a book like that would even begin to diminish it from our society. Maybe people don't like to think about the 'ugly truth' of what teenagers do but there has to be a point where you come to terms with it. Especially if you're determining who should read what. I also don't think that people realize how educational books can be. Specifically books about serious issues that teenagers face. I've mentioned it thousands of times already but issues like sex, drugs, alcohol, and more! Books tend to offer a very honest, no sprinkles depiction of them and I think that's important. For me, the way to ensure that you don't get into that type of stuff is to gain knowledge about them. Which seems a bit counter-intuitive but it's true! If you don't know what you're dealing with, then you really wouldn't know whether it's good or bad and what to do. And while that type of ignorance may seem great at first, trust me, it really isn't.

Secondly, shunning a book JUST because it might be a little inappropriate is rather narrow-minded and superficial. There's so much more to a book besides the fact that the narrator uses 'shit' a lot and if you're judging it based solely on that, you're missing a lot that could be amazing. Take the recent controversy about the Eleanor & Park banning. I was absolutely shocked! I really enjoyed that book and I thought that it hit on some pretty key issues so the fact that someone banned it because it had a lot of obscenities was incredibly upsetting for me. Here's another person refusing to accept that this is how people are! We swear! And if someone isn't all right with that, I think THEY have the ability to decide for themselves whether or not this obscenity-laced book is worth a read. I mean, who continues to do something if it makes them uncomfortable? So if they have a problem with the book, they can determine to stop reading by themselves. Really, it's unnecessary to have someone telling you to avoid this book and that book.

And that brings me to my last point. Reading is subjective. Which is why:

(a) Just because you find a book _______ doesn't mean that other people do too.
(b) reading is an independent activity (for the most part) so I think that the choosing of a book should be independent as well.
(c) I don't like the idea of someone telling me what to read.

I'll read what I want! And I'll let everyone else read what they want to! Because I truly believe there is something to gain from each book, even if it is a mindless read. Even if it's so bad you want to puke. Books are important to our society and though we might not understand that now, just wait until they're gone. 


  1. I find book banning quite pointless, because it just shows how stuck-up and narrow-minded people can be. I can understand why Harry Potter would be banned, due to all that promotion of witchcraft, and I say fine.

    But I really hate it when people ban something, and they haven't read the book at all. -____-

  2. I think I can understand why a book is banned but I definitely do not agree with banning any sort of book. I just find the activity very pretentious and it bugs me that people who ban books think that they're protecting the people and not doing them a disservice.