Banning Books Instead of Discussing Them

I came across this article on the Huffington Post this morning.

A dad in my province doesn’t like that The Perks of Being a Wallflower is being taught in Grade 10. He wants to get it banned. He believes that the book is borderline pornographic and is filled with graphic, inappropriate material.

So many thoughts.

First, banning books just make them more interesting. My dad wants to stop me from reading a book, now I want to know what about this book is so exciting that my dad doesn’t want me reading it. I will get it from a friend, the library, this thing called the Internet that lets me order whatever I want. Maybe Amazon will even recommend other related books that I might like.

I’ve read The Perks of Being a Wallflower – it was a book club book a while back. And I loved it. I thought it was an honest, brilliant portrayal of growing up. Being a teenager is no joke. Over time, the memories soften and you’re able to pick through and choose the good memories (unless being a teen was really traumatic for you. Then that is not going away). You manage to forget about all the feelings of inadequacy, the worries that you’re being left out, the confusion about who you like. Being a teenager sucks.

I think that reading a book about that, about all the crazy messed up things that can happen, the temptations to indulge in drugs and alcohol, the sexual confusion, I think it helps. This book talks about all of those things but it also spins out the consequences of those decisions. Teenagers, whose brains haven’t developed that impulse control, don’t always have the ability to see through to those consequences. This book takes them along. It is honest about mental health, sex, and drinking -all things that teenagers think about but don’t necessarily vocalize.

I have teenaged siblings. If they were reading this book I’d be so proud. It would mean that they were able to see outside of themselves, that they were growing as people. Actually I’m pretty sure that my one sister has read this book. The bottom line here is that just because you’re reading about something, doesn’t mean you’re doing it. Reading about a kid having sex with a dog doesn’t set you down the path to bestiality you know?

There are loads of other books for young adults that I would argue are more difficult to digest. The Hunger Games is a whole series about children killing children. How come they are less messed up than a book that sees teens experimenting with drugs and sex?

Maybe instead of trying to get the book banned, this dad should take the opportunity to discuss this book with his son. That’s the whole point of books anyway.


Shelf Log

I think we have established that I am a book hoarder. I cannot help myself. But looking at my bookshelf, seeing all the lovely titles that I had yet to crack, I imposed a book ban on myself. I was not allowed to buy any more books until I had read the ones I already had.

(Notice how we’re using the past tense?)

But then I went to Costco and these 3 books were already on my list and they were cheap so I bought those. And since then, I may have bought a couple more. But most of them have been on my list so it’s like I already had them anyway, but now I actually have them.

You know?

In an effort to curb my insanity, I thought that if I was honest about what is actually on my shelf right now and could see it in black and white it might help to curb my bookish appetite.

Actually it will probably fill me with pride – look at all the excellent books I have chosen! But we’re going to try anyway. In no particular order:

Madame Tussaud by Michelle Moran. Have you ever been to Madame Tussauds? Any one of them – they have them in London, New York, Vegas and Amsterdam. I’ve been to the one in Amsterdam (and I’m dying to go to the one in Vegas when I go next month) and I’ve never had so much fun in a museum before. The pictures are hilarious. Turns out that Madame Tussaud was a real person. I don’t think that I knew this. But whatevs. I saw this book and I had to have it. And now I do. And one day I’ll read it too.

In this, the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Dickens, I clearly felt like I needed to flesh out my Dickens’ section a little. I already had Great ExpectationsA Christmas Carol and Hard Times (I think I must have at least another one from my time at school but I cannot think of it at the moment) but this is not enough. I still want to get my hands on the biography that was released last year (good thing it’s my birthday soon) but I recently picked up Nicholas Nickleby and then! A Tale of Two Cities without the Oprah’s Book Club thing on it! Success! (I try really hard never to collect books that have anything to do with Oprah. Ever)Once I actually read them I will feel even more superior to you.

The Kennedy Women by Laurence Leamer is languishing on my shelf for reasons unknown. I love biographies about women, The Kennedy Women should be at the top of my list. The same day I picked up this gem, I grabbed the companion: The Kennedy Men. And I actually read that one. Every time I gravitate towards it, I get distracted by something shiny. But I know once I actually crack this one, I’m going to love it.

Catch-22 has been on my list for a long long time. And I had it in my hand to buy it when I came across Forever Amber by Kathleen Winsor and bought it instead. What would convince me to put down such an important work in favour of something with such an unimaginative title? Um, apparently this book was so slutty that it had to be banned in some places when it was published in 1944. Basically, Amber has to prostitute herself to stay alive in 17th century England. And Barbara Taylor Bradford did the introduction and she’s all I loved this book when I was a teenager. If Barbara Taylor Bradford says that it’s a “genuine page turner” and a “smashing read” who are we to argue? It’s heavy though – nearly 1000 pages. I think that’s going to be next.

I was on my way to my book club and had some time to kill so naturally I wandered into a bookstore unsupervised. And I was on my way to book club so I was feeling pretty smug and brilliant. And what do the smug literati buy when they are in a bookstore? War and Peace, naturally. So more than a year later, it’s still sitting on my shelf. I really really really do want to read it. So badly. But every time I get there, something else, easier, shorter, something that will help me get to my book reading goal, gets in the way. One day though, me and Tolstoy? We’re going to make this happen.

That might be it. I fear it isn’t. But these are the ones that I can come up with off the top of my head. What would you read next?