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Copyright 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 by Paul Woodford. All rights reserved.

You Can’t Read That!

You Can’t Read That! is a periodic post featuring banned book reviews and news roundups.

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Arizona

Banned Chicano writers respond to the Tucson Unified School District book banning by publishing an anthology titled “Ban This!” What do you suppose the odds are it’ll be adopted by TUSD?

The only thing better than having a locally owned independent bookstore in your town is having one that actively fights censorship and promotes banned books. We have one in Tucson called Bookmans, and they produced this video:

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Elsewhere

A few years ago I challenged myself to catch up with some of the banned books I’d never read. That led to one blog entry, then another, then another … and I’m still at it. In honor of banned and challenged authors everywhere (note: Banned Books Week is Sept. 30-Oct. 6, 2012), why not challenge yourself to read a banned book or two?  Even if it’s a book you read as a kid, read it again with the knowledge that people, even today, still want to ban it: you’ll be surprised how much more you get out of the book. Here’s a nice essay to entice you.

Librarians: the Unlikely Heroes of America.

Not books, but censorship in general: some thoughts on Google’s attempt to censor the crude anti-Islam video that has the Muslim world in an uproar.

Also in the news, No Easy Day, the tell-all book about the bin Laden raid, a book the DoD initially wanted to block or ban outright. Publicity and public interest prevented any such ham-handedness, but in now seems likely the goverment will prosecute the author for revealing secrets.

Banning Harry Potter. What, still?

Inappropriate and pornographic. Those were the words East Penn resident Paula Whittman used to describe two books on Emmaus High School’s summer reading list.”

“Enfield parent Christie Bosco claimed that her effort to have the book removed was ‘not a question of censorship,’ even though it was not required reading and her son could simply choose a different book.”

High school kids in Nampa, Idaho can’t read Like Water for Chocolate due to an abundance of breasts.

They’re burning books again. Literally. What’s next, witch trials?

Canadian public school enlists children to distribute Gideon Bibles, but no non-Christian or atheist books please.

You Can’t Read That! Book Review

Lydia Kiesling, a writer for the literary blog The Millions, has an interesting take on a much-banned book, Judy Blume’s Forever.

Forever was one of the books I read and reviewed when I started in on my own banned books challenge. To supplement Lydia Kiesling’s comments, here’s my review from January 2010:

foreverForever
by Judy Blume

Prominent on any list of banned and challenged books is Judy Blume’s Forever. It’s a great title, but Judy Blume could just as well have named it My First Fuck. Considering that Blume’s audience is made up of pre-teen and early-teen girls, it’s easy to understand why so many parents have demanded this one be taken out of libraries. I frankly would have been extremely uncomfortable with the thought of my own daughter reading this when she was in middle school.

But if you accept the fact that kids are gonna do it, then Judy Blume’s protagonist, Katherine, is the ideal guide and mentor. Katherine is nothing if not methodical: she gathers advice from friends, relatives, and her own parents; she studies up on STDs and VD; she visits a Planned Parenthood clinic on her own and gets a prescription for birth control pills; she doesn’t let her boyfriend force her into anything until she’s ready; she makes him wear a condom.

All that preparation pays off: Katherine has her sexual experience and does not suffer afterward. That right there, pre-marital sex without righteous biblical retribution, is enough to get the book banned. But there’s more: by making it clear that Katherine enjoyed the experience, Judy Blume is telling girls that sex can be fun, and that’s enough to justify burning her at the stake in many communities.

The book suffers a bit from all the practical advice Judy Blume has crammed into it: parts of Forever read like an owners’ manual, and at times you feel as if you’re studying for a test rather than reading a novel.

I hope my own daughter read Forever when she was a teenager. But I wouldn’t have wanted to know she was reading it at the time.

© 2012, Paul Woodford. All rights reserved.

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