It seems that the Huffington Post are stealing my article ideas. Only three days after my article lamenting censorship of books, they do an article on the 2013 Banned Books campaign (September 22-28th).
Now I’m not bitter, in fact, I’m currently covered in orange sherbet. So this follow-up article is to add my support to the Banned Books Campaign and talk about the most frequently challenged books of last year. The annual report of the American Library Association had a lot of interesting findings. They are still having problems with publishers allowing them to loan ebooks (sigh – I bet the same arguments were made when libraries first started lending books), the people using libraries still think that they offer a very important service, they have become technology and research hubs for people, but visit rates have dropped a bit. The really interesting thing for me – because I’m not American, let alone a member of an American library, so all of those points are belly lint to me – was the top ten list of challenged books for 2012.
Here is the Office of Intellectual Freedom’s Top Ten List of Frequently Challenged Books in 2012:
■ Captain Underpants (series), by Dav Pilkey (offensive language, unsuited for age group) TA: Exactly what were parents expecting from a book with this title?
■ The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie (offensive language, racism, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group) TA: Oh noes, a young adult book that doesn’t treat the readers like kids!!
■ Thirteen Reasons Why, by Jay Asher (drugs/alcohol/smoking, sexually explicit, suicide, unsuited for age group) TA: Another young adult book that deals with real issues, can’t have that!
■ Fifty Shades of Grey, by E. L. James (offensive language, sexually explicit) TA: An erotica book that is sexually explicit….. Words to describe the stupid, fail me.
■ And Tango Makes Three, by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell (homosexuality, unsuited for age group) TA: Based on real penguins, must be evil!!
■ The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini (homosexuality, offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit) TA: Be warned, the characters aren’t white or Christian!!
■ Looking for Alaska, by John Green (offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group) TA: Written by John Green, so clearly the complainants were too stupid to enjoy the book.
■ Scary Stories(series), by Alvin Schwartz (unsuited for age group, violence) TA: The title clearly didn’t give the game away for some sensitive little souls.
■ The Glass Castle, by Jeannette Walls (offensive language, sexually explicit) TA: Real life is clearly too confronting for some readers.
■ Beloved, by Toni Morrison (sexually explicit, religious viewpoint, violence) TA: Someone clearly thinks that slavery is a lot more fun than the author portrayed it.
The thing I find striking about this top ten list is that the books are all multiple award winners (except that crud by EL James, which makes up for lack of awards with sales to keep a publishing house afloat). As such, I’d hazard a guess that most of the complaints are coming from people who haven’t read the book, nor let their little darlings near a book. We can only hope that next year people are too busy reading good books to complain about them.