Banned Books

Last year, I started hearing about books being banned from libraries across the US. I looked at several banned book lists and realized that most of the books listed were books that I’d never read, or hadn’t read in a very long time. I decided to compile a list of banned books and start working through them. So far, I’ve read 1984, A Farewell to Arms, A Separate Peace, and am nearly finished with All the King’s Men. All of the books have been fantastic in their own ways, with A Separate Peace being probably the best book I’ve ever read. After each chapter, I read the summary and the analysis of the book on to ensure I fully understand it. But all in all, this is an incredibly rewarding experience. Earlier in my life, I tried to read Hemingway and got distracted by the run-on sentences. I noticed that with A Farewell to Arms, but after a few pages, it melted away and I was able to focus on the story. I get it now… I get why so many people adore Hemingway… His writing is just so powerful.

On some level, I guess I can understand why these books are banned. But on a stronger, more profound level, that’s all the reason more to keep them on shelves. Many of these books were written with certain historical periods in mind (or the author was writing about an era that he/she lived through and/or experienced), and the writing reflects the attitudes, language, and culture of that time. Some books are written with thought to the future based on the attitudes, language, and culture of the author’s present time (at the time that the book was written), which hopefully gives us a glimpse of what the future may become. These are not necessarily bad things. People need to not only understand our histories but our potential futures. History does not change because don’t like it. But our futures can be molded by what we learn from the past.

If you’ve made it this far in my little essay, please only take away this; read more books. Read the books that others say aren’t good “for the children”. Don’t take a banned book at face value, get in there and read it for yourself to determine if you think it should or shouldn’t be on the shelves. I think you’ll find that more often than not, more people need to know about that book and read it themselves, which means the book needs to be more available rather than less.