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Chapter 16 - If You're Reading This It's Too Late


Welcome to Our Right to Read week, also know as Banned Book Week. This is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read and it brings together many people in the shared support of the freedom to publish, read, and express ideas some may consider unorthodox or unpopular.

The list of banned books over the years looks like a who's who of good literature. While each book in the list has been banned potentially for a different reason, all have an important story to share. So, be a rebel and read banned books!

Here then are some of my favorite of the "banned"!

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain - While it's language may not be politically correct and it has caused controversy since its publication in 1884, the book is not without merit. Centering on some difficult themes like "natural" men vs "civilized" man, the evils of slavery, and the value of human beings, it is a wonderful adventure and friendship story. Banned because of racism.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime by Mark Haddon - At first I was reluctant to read this book as it starts out with a dead dog (no spoilers, it's on the cover) and I don't read sad dog stories. The story is about a mildly autistic boy who discovers his neighbor's dog and decides to investigate the murder. Along the way he discovers a lot about himself and others. Banned due to offensive language and atheism.

The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien - This is a semi-autobiographic novel based on O'Brien's own experiences of his time as a soldier in Vietnam. A series of vignettes it was banned because of profanity.

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee - A staple of American literature, Lee tells the story of Atticus Finch in 1930's Alabama. An attorney and hero to his daughter, Scout, Atticus defends a black man accused of rape. Banned for offensive language, sexual implications, and racism.

The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls - A memoir of her very dysfunctional upbringing, Walls' story is one of triumph over adversity. The book deals with issues of alcoholism, poverty and homeless. Banned because of profanity, racism, and because it was deemed to be sexually explicit.

If you are interested in learning more about banned books here are some really good resources - www.marshall.edu/library/bannedbooks/

http://www.ala.org/advocacy/bbooks

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