1 October 2015

A Banned Books Week Appreciation Post

They say you learn something new every day, right?

Here's a fun fact: Banned Books Week is being held from 17 September to 3 October this year, which is . . . right now!

Sure, each banned book has caused a stirring controversy since its publication. Still, I haven't met many book enthusiasts (including book bloggers) who don't like at least one banned book. They have not only caused disruption, but also raised (often important) questions, and that's part of what I like about them.

In this post, I'll discuss three of my favourite banned books and what, specifically, I love about them.

1. The Catcher in the Rye (J.D. Salinger)
Image via Homework Online.

This is one of those complex books that I didn't truly appreciate until the very end. Holden was only a little relatable during most of the story, until the final few chapters when everything drew together in a nicely meaningful conclusion. Holden's love and care for Phoebe captivated me by the end. In fact, when I think of this book, that stands out to me most. But isn't it interesting that this novel was banned mostly because of the frequent swear words and the mentions of prostitution and other taboo themes? I've no doubt those things were scandalous in the 1950s, but now they're everyday features of our 2015 society. You take the goo with the bad, I suppose, as with anything.

2. To Kill a Mockingbird (Harper Lee)

Image via Amazon.
I notice a pattern when I read classic books: I'm a little intrigued in the beginning, then bored throughout (most of) the middle plot, and adore the story by the end. Another frequently-censored piece of iconic literature, To Kill a Mockingbird was censored for racial reasons, as well as some derogatory terms and swear words. I really appreciate the characters in this story, particularly Atticus and Calpurnia -- they're my favourites. I wasn't entirely fascinated by the plot until the final four or five chapters, when the pacing changed altogether and became very tense, and I couldn't put the book down.

Read my review of To Kill a Mockingbird here.

3. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (Ken Kesey)

Image via Behance.
(Side note: The book cover that you see at right is much prettier than the book cover of the copy that I own.)

I have to say, I didn't admire the characters very much until the end of the novel, after all of the drama and tension pulled together and culminated in raw, harsh, and sometimes-violent behaviours on behalf of the characters. I also like that this books analyses mental illnesses and the concept of mental health, especially in a decade where those things were not prioritised as they are today. I regard mental health as very important, and I like how this novel interprets the subject: realistically, of the time period, but also in a way that provided new insights for 1960s readers.

You can view my recent review of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest here.

Other banned books that are on my TBR list, which I'm very enthusiastic to read, include Slaughterhouse-Five (Kurt Vonnegut), For Whom the Bell Tolls (Ernest Hemingway), Brave New World (Aldous Huxley) and The Lord of the Rings (J.R.R. Tolkien).

These are my favourite challenged books. Tell me yours in the comments section!

You can visit the American Library Association's webpage about banned books here, and the ALA's webpage about Banned Books Week here. You can peruse a list (compiled by the ALA) of banned and challenged books here.


  1. I'm a little late to this post, but recently a book in New Zealand was banned! It's called Into the River by Ted Dawe and it's still banned!? (I think...) It just seems crazy to ban books.

    1. I just looked into that! According to Wikipedia, the book is still banned but its status is "under review." (Hmmm...) I agree, isn't it odd that we have to ban certain words and ideas that people have thought of?


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