Books We Love to Hate
In the novel, books that are considered threats to Germany, the Nazi Party, and German national pride are burned in bonfires. As we saw today, this is certainly not the only time in history that books have been burned for their alleged offensive and corrupting ideas.
But book burning is not the only way to stop people from reading them. In our society, book banning is a popular pastime. It’s not too hard to predict some of the top offenders over the years, such as Catcher in the Rye (for its language, “loose morals”, and violence) and Harry Potter (for its descriptions of the occult). For a look at the Top 100 Novels of the 20th Century to be banned or challenged, see the American Library Association’s list of the Top 100 challenged books from 2000-2009. And here is a sampling of banned and challenged children’s and youth stories. Take a look at the lists, and then answer two of the questions below.
1. Is there ever a good reason for book censorship?
2. Have you read any of the Top 100 books (from either list)? Do you agree that it should have limited access?
3. What book, in your opinion, should have limited access? Why?
4. Some books have been Bowdlerized–i.e. the “offensive” parts have been changed or removed. Two such examples are the His Dark Materials trilogy (including The Golden Compass) and Huckleberry Finn. Is this an acceptable compromise?
5. Should writers have guidelines as to what they can and cannot publish–similar to the Standards in American television writing?