After stumbling on The New York Times’ The Banned Books Your Child Should Read article, I found myself carving out particular details and reviews of many such repeatedly banned books worldwide. Whether it’s a book written about a complete totalitarian society, sex, the face of racism, religion, or cultural promulgation, any book that depicts a more challenging and open-minded perspective surrounding both children and adults, regardless of what the nature of the book’s message, was considered a threat to humanity. The assessment of how famously some books were banned from bookshelves across the globe is predictable, yet embarrassing.
Given the long history of controversies, suppression of thought, censorship, and the stereotypical ways of raising children, distinctively prescribing roles to both genders, I thought it was time to play a small role between such paradigms. It’s inevitable that once a book is published, if it stirs some unusual sentiments, it will be susceptible to control and confrontation, but does that also mean that the book is simply challenged or banned from public access?
Historically speaking, the roots of banning books digs deep into the past where the attempts made to control literature existed ever since published literature became a way of living. That’s to say that after years of doubtless accessibility, most of the books famously banned today are classics such as Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, 1984 by George Orwell, or Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury.
Conflicting similar sentimentality to such literature, these are also books that are considered “Classical Studies” books for children and young adults.
When books are challenged it means that there had been numerous attempts to restrict a particular book, while banned books are completely kept away from freedom, based on factors that attempt to exclude books from the curriculum, libraries, etc. To understand transparently why books shouldn’t be banned, it’s crucial to understand the concept of psychology for reading books.
To be able to map emotions, feelings, actions, and experiences, also body language of yourself and others, having a mindset beyond your conscious capacity of perception is paramount. It also guides us into emotion perception and overcoming roadblocks to mindfulness. Reading books for pleasure is not always how it appears. When you read books that are challenged or banned, you have the power to harness awareness about the world. It’s a great resource to gain information, discuss, and talk about why such books are troubling, in a more general sense.
Primarily, books were pressed in society as being extremely inappropriate for children. Materials that contain offensive use of words, are sexually explicit, or irrelevant for a particular age group are challenged time and again for the existing generation.
Reaching out to read books that have either been challenged or banned, is something every reader must do to make an effort to form a certain worldview in both cultural and social identity. If you want to deal with historical ideas with a modern twist, it’s impressively common to read banned books first. That way, you won’t be afraid of challenging relic ideas for thought-provoking ones.
ULYSSES by James Joyce
A modernist novel, Ulysses is considered to be the most dangerous book- to the extent that it has been banned by the United States and England, also it has been consistently confiscated and burned repeatedly. This book has seen episodes that led to its prosecution for obscenity. And throughout the 1920s, the United States Post Office Department had burned more than 1,000 copies of the novel on the basis of the book’s content and message.
“What is so staggering about Ulysses is the fact that behind a thousand veils nothing lies hidden; that it turns neither toward the mind nor toward the world, but, as cold as the moon looking on from cosmic space, allows the drama of growth, being, and decay to pursue its course.”
THE DIARY OF A YOUNG GIRL by Anne Frank
Considered too explicit and veracious for education institutions, The Diary Of A Young Girl is a hard-hitting account of a 13 year old Jewish girl of her 2 years hiding in a Secret Annex because of the Nazi Invasion. This book was repeatedly banned not because of the Nazi Invasion narrative, but because of the kind of words she believed to express in the book. If you’ve read this book (as I have), you’ll find her intentions extremely transparent and of a curious mind. This is no ordinary novel. It has been challenged and banned from formal institutions because it expresses the curiosity and intelligence of a young girl who is learning the ways of her growing body and her relationship with those around her.
Also, The Diary of a Young Girl has never been permanently banned, but it has been censored many times for its literature (that is a young girl’s thoughts) which was marked with “unnatural” homosexual tendencies.
THE CATCHER IN THE RYE by J.D. SALINGER
A striking novel about a blatant teenager Holden Coulfield, The Catcher in the Rye has been subjected to many censors between 2000 to 2009. Because of its sexual, wicked, and provoking literature, this novel was identified with 785 profanities for a high school syllabus and was marked down as “part of an overall communist plot.” The meaning portrayed in this novel is to save children from losing their innocence, something the audience rarely sees. Rather they choose to focus on the teenager’s grumpy, angry, and sinister perspective on life.
FAHRENHEIT 451 by Ray Bradbury
This book’s prediction of book burnings has taken the whole world for a startling ride. A dystopian novel published in 1953, it talks of a very futuristic American society where firemen were designed to start fires where books were outlawed. It’s a classic representation of how humankind craves to suppress what isn’t understood by them. In a radio interview, the author, Ray Bradbury had stated that he wrote Fahrenheit 451 because of the emergence of threat of book burning in the United States. He also concluded that his novel takes a whole new approach at how mass media encourages the interest of disregarding reading literature as a way of life.
BRAVE NEW WORLD by Aldous Huxley
Speaking of a complete hedonistic society where everyone seems to be permanently happy, warfare and poverty are nowhere to be seen or felt, and humanity is technologically advanced. All this because under the thumb of the society’s hatred to family, culture, art, literature, philosophy, and science. Those things that make humanity are eliminated for a totalitarian society. Aldous Huxley’s bold literature has been rigidly compared with George Orwell’s 1984, which too is a popularly challenged book. Many notable incidents have been censored because of its negative use of activity and perception of a futurist society. The book was banned in India in 1967, as the author was accused of being a “pornographer”.
There are many more straightforward books that are a part of the family such as
- To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
- The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
- Tropic of Cancer by Henry Miller
- The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie
- Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
- Animal Farm by George Orwell
I think the scope of such books is a brave one. For once, shouldn’t we allow ourselves to expose something beyond that which is permitted and comforting to the masses.
After all, if a book doesn’t affect the realms of consciousness and intelligence, then why read at all?