Banned Book Week

Did you know that September 21-27 is Banned Book Week?

Don’t worry, I didn’t know either, until Amanda told me about it, via Book Journey. Then, I read though some of the lists of books that have been banned over the years, getting angry and also wondering if I had anything to contribute to this conversation that hasn’t already been said a  millions times.

Clearly, I write a blog about books, and you are reading this blog about books, so let’s just assume that you and I both are opposed to the idea of banned books, right?

Scrolling through the list, I saw titles of classic works that I know have long histories of controversies, fantasy books that lead to accusations of black magic or something ridiculous, and, god forbid, kid’s books that normalize same-sex relationships. Oh, the humanity!

But you already know that, right?

What did jump out at me though, were a couple books banned because teenagers use drugs, namely Looking For Alaska and Go Ask Alice. I read both of these books as an adult, not a teen, but I don’t remember reading them and thinking that those books really glamorized drinking and drug use. After all, there are dire consequences in both.

And then I thought about a book I did read as an actual impressionable youth – Sweet Valley High, On the Edge – AKA, the book where Regina dies from cocaine. I remember nothing about that book or the circumstances (though I did remember the name Regina just now to Google), but the message came through loud and clear: all it takes is one time to kill you, kids! To this day, I remain terrified of the mere idea of cocaine. Clearly, I am not the only one, as evidenced by this post from Forever YA: Regina Morrow is the reason I never tried cocaine.

I’m pretty sure that reading Go Ask Alice would have a similar effect on teens – “Alice” is a middle-class, regular old teenager who gets caught up in drugs – and she does not have a happy ending. The kids in Looking for Alaska get into trouble at boarding school, and the book ends with a pretty clear warning.

I suppose I understand why someone who thinks banning books is an appropriate thing to do might look at the descriptions and shout “BAN BAN BAN,” but seriously – this is the opposite of logical.

For one thing, is banning books that include kids doing dumb/illegal/dangerous things based on the assumption that anyone who reads about something is going to go out and try it? I mean, how many people read Life of Pi – and how many of those readers then got onto a boat with a tiger, just for kicks?

Second, that’s completely discounting the lesson, or conclusion, found at the end of the book(s). Spoiler alert: sometimes people die from drugs/drinking/stupidity. Isn’t that exactly the lesson you’d want to impart to a young readers, as opposed to teaching them that some ideas are off limits?

And, my final point – don’t use cocaine, guys. Not even once. #terrifiedsince1992

1a

Advertisements

Series I need to reread (like, yesterday)

I have a love/ overwhelmed relationship with books that come in series. As a kid, I could not get enough – The Babysitter’s Club, Sweet Valley Twins (and the more risqué Sweet Valley High pinched from Amanda), and, my favorite, The Boxcar Children. I loved polishing off one and heading right into the next, and it seemed like there was always another book waiting for me in one of those seemingly never-ending series.

Sidenote: suddenly, I must know how never-ending these books really were. Hold on while I google… 132 in the regular series of the Babysitter’s Club (plus specials), 118 Sweet Valley Twins (plus specials), and 135 Boxcar Children (of course, plus specials).

Sidenote to my sidenote: I keep railing to my sister lately about how all the YA series that the kids (uh, and the adults) are reading these days include special “novellas” that tell the stories between the story. Usually, my reaction is, that if it wasn’t good enough for your main book, I don’t want to read the leftovers (I generally feel the same way about deleted scenes as “bonus material.”) Anyway, apparently I forgot that all my favorite series (serieses?) did include special extras – though, I maintain that at least those had the decency to be the same size (or bigger!) than the regular books.

Oh dear. Where was I? Yes, as an adult, I get overwhelmed by the idea of taking on a new series. Deciding to read one book – fine; deciding to read seven…well, that takes more dedication. Or, more threats, as Amanda might disown me if I don’t read everything by Mira Grant/ Seanan McGuire, pronto.

Anyway, adding to my clearly self-inflicted reading drama, is the further “problem” of wanting to find time to reread some of the series(es?) that I really really loved. Sigh. How am I ever going to find time to read all the new books that Amanda demands of me, plus all the well-loved favorites that are beckoning?

Here’s what I want to get back to:

Harry Potter – I read all the HPs pretty sporadically, picking them up here and there, and sometimes re-reading, sometimes not. I was the same way with the movies, until J-the-Completest wanted to watch them all in sequence (over several weeks, mind you). And then he found the complete set on blu-ray for cheap, so we went through and watched them all again, recently. Between the JK Rowling statement about Harry and Hermione, and Amanda and I’s love for Rowling’s newest character, Comoran Strike, I really need to do a HP re-read!

The Hunger Games – The HG trilogy was the first purchase I made when I get my Kindle a few years ago, and I sort of devoured the whole thing quickly. I liked it – and then I really liked the first movie – and then I really really liked the second movie. So, I’d like to reread the books sometime before the next movie comes out (though I think splitting the third book into two movies is extremely silly).

The Millennium Trilogy – I’ve been talking about YA books throughout this post, and these books are decidedly not! That said, if you haven’t read The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl who Played with Fire, and The Girl who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest, you are missing out. I have the first one and the third one sitting on my bookshelf. I really need to buy the second (I had borrowed it from a friend to read), and then re-read them all. My incomplete collection probably gives J the heebie-jeebies.

Anyway, I’ll get right on these…after I catch up in Game of Thrones…and finish the Lumatere Chronicles

What’s your favorite series to revisit?