It may not be banned book week anymore, but that does not mean that we still cannot celebrate books at any given time, especially those that have fallen victim to being banned from schools. I am much more than just your typical bookworm, so I'm sure you can imagine my despair when I see another loved classic is added to the growing list of banned books. Most recently, Harper Lee's, "To Kill a Mockingbird" has been removed from schools in Mississippi. I, of course, was very disheartened to hear the news, and not because Mississippi was my favorite word to spell in Elementary school. I learned quite a bit from this novel and many others that have made the list.
So, welcome ladies and gentlemen, here are 7 banned books that will change your life.
1. To Kill A Mockingbird
I know what you're thinking, "He put 'To Kill A Mockingbird' on the list? I totally didn't see that coming!" I hope you are not too shocked that you cannot read any further, but if so, take a deep breath, and continue when you feel you are ready.
"To Kill A Mockingbird" has made the news several times in the past few weeks after it has been added to the list of books that have been banned. The reasoning behind the ban is because of the language and use of the n-word is making people uncomfortable. Personally, I feel that is what makes the book so phenomenal. The book was written to make people feel uncomfortable and to shed light on racism and show that it is a very real thing that happens in society.
This book is so vital and impressionable for kids who are in school. For those who have had the good grace not to be judged by the color of their skin, such as myself, this novel opens your eyes to the injustices in the world. I read this novel at a younger age, and it was my first peek into racism. Atticus Finch became an important literary figure for me and taught me not to judge people because they look different than me. Not only did he teach me that, but he also taught me that although I might not go through the same struggles as other people and understand it, I am still able to be an ally and always fight for what is right.
2. Fahrenheit 451
This is perhaps the most ironic book that has made the list, and who doesn't love some good irony? If you have not heard of the novel, I guess I should explain why this book being banned is so ironic. The entire premise of this novel is about a futuristic society where books are banned and critical thinking is against the law. This society may seem ideal to some people, not having to read and write paper after paper on novels that bore you to death. Just a few short pages into the novel, you learn it is not as great as it seems.
Although I had already known, due to be a giant nerd, this book further reinforced my knowledge of the importance that books have on my education. The banning of all literature in this society proved to be much more dangerous than one may perceive it to be. This novel made me appreciate books more and ask myself, "Was this really fiction?"
3. The Great Gatsby
The best way to explain "The Great Gatsby" is by starting off with the most important thing I learned from the novel. What is that, you may be asking yourself. It is a beautiful lesson, and that is; "Ain't no party like a Jay Gatsby party, because a Jay Gatsby party don't stop."
All jokes aside, there really is a lot to be learned and taken from the novel. It has been removed from reading lists because of its use of sex, drugs, and alcohol use seen in the novel. I will not lie and say that all of that is included in the novel, but it takes place in the 20's and history has taught us enough to know that this was a very accurate depiction of the way people acted during that time.
That being said, it also taught a lot about the division of class between West and East Egg, and the Valley of Ashes. Those examples are just fictional and different ways to describe the upper, middle, and lower class. This system of class still exists today, and the novel shows it in a "great" way, through the vibrant characters that belong to it.
4. The Scarlet Letter
"The Scarlet Letter" is another banned book that I find slightly ironic for the reasoning behind its ban. Asking around and doing some simple research, one of the main reasons this book has been banned is because people feel the author, Nathaniel Hawthorne, was too sympathetic toward the protagonist, Hester Prynne.
A quick summary for those who do not know about the novel, it is about a women who commits adultery, and is shunned from her village and made an example of by being forced to embroider a red a for "adulterer" on her wardrobe. Due to her sin, her daughter is also seen by many of the villagers to be the devil and becomes an outcast as well.
This novel is important because it teaches the over-sexualization of women and shows the way society weighs women's sins over men's. Later in the novel, you find out the father of her child is the Reverend. The use of the reverend being the father was an exaggeration to show how men are not held to the same standards as women. Hester and her daughter led lives filled with hate and scrutiny because of what she did, while the male character faced no turmoil from the townspeople. This can easily parallel rape-culture today and how the victims are shamed while the perpetrators are free to commit the same violent act again with no repercussions.
"1984" is another book on the banned book list that holds extreme irony. It has been banned for being pro communism. Like "Fahrenheit 451, "it tells the story of a futuristic society where critical thinking is challenged. "1984," however, is much more extreme. People are robbed of free will, privacy, and truth. They are constantly being watched by the government and are forbidden to have basic rights such as, freedom of speech.
The novel teaches the importance of being able to live in society where we are granted such freedoms and able to live a life no t having to fear the government taking complete control of our lives. Some may think this book being banned is just a coincidence, others say it is the beginning of a similar society, which do you think it is?
6. The Perks Of Being A Wallflower
"The Perks Of Being A Wallflower "also happens to be another personal favorite of mine that has been banned. This novel was banned because of depictions of homosexuality, sex, masturbation, and a glorification of drugs and alcohol. This book follows a kid as he goes through his freshman year of high school, and I hate to break it to you, high school is full of all of the reasons this book was banned.
What makes this book so special is how accurately it depicts high school. This book was especially important to me because I felt like an outsider just like Charlie. I had gone through depression and anxiety problems for a couple years and felt like the weird kid because of, this novel showed me that it was okay to have those problems and it doesn't make you weird.
On the note of homosexuality, this was the first novel I read that showed homosexuality in any capacity. Growing up struggling with my own sexuality, seeing a gay character in a novel depicted in a positive, non-stereotypical light was very important and played a big role in helping me accept myself. "The Perks Of Being A Wallflower "shows the triumphs, hardships, and beauty of growing up and is a very important novel for people who feel lost.
7. The Catcher In The Rye
Anyone that knows me knew this book was going to make the list. I would like to formally apologize for being a huge cliche as a writer. I wish I could tell you my favorite novel was something more original and unique, but it sadly is not.
"The Catcher In The Rye" is banned mostly for its overuse of profanity, particularly the f-word. I understand parents concern with profanity, but take a ride on a school bus and I promise you, you will hear fourth graders using more profanity than was used in the entire novel.
This novel captures the essence of youth, particularly from the male perspective. There is not really a plot, it is just following the adventures and conscious of Holden Caulfield. It taught me a lot about myself and made me realize that I was not so different from Holden. It is likely to always be my favorite book, but I am open to the challenge of finding another.
There are so many other arguments and points that could be brought forward as to why these novels have been banned, but none of them will seem right to me. We should not be censoring literature and taking away the opportunity to read a life-changing novel. Words have so much power, but fiction, fiction is much mightier than anything else. Literature teaches us lessons and truths we could never learn from a lecture. If I had not gotten to read these novels, I can honestly say that my life would be entirely different and I would not be the same person I am today.