Subject: Banned Books

Our meeting started out with a discussion that lasted the whole meeting. This reader did not think books should be banned, perhaps, unless age related.  Who banned these books?  When did this start?  With a little help from Wikipedia the earliest book banned was in 411 BC in Greece, when Lysistrata by Aristophanes was banned (remember women went on strike against men to force peace). The idea heated up in the 1850’s when Gustave Flaubert’s Madame Bovary was banned in France and Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin in the United States.  Now, books are banned mostly for political or religious reasons or are considered offensive, prejudicial, sexually explicit, or age inappropriate. The discussion continued during the whole meeting. No one got mad; it was a discussion, and fun.

Darwin’s Children by Greg Bear

There is a virus in the human genome and it is changing the children born. Evolution has changed the face of the whole world. Mr. Bear has written several books on this subject. My husband wants to know if this person has read Mr. Bear’s book where the Native Americans have used canoes for space travel?

The Grapes Of Wrath by John Steinbeck

When first written this book was banned by in some parts of California because of its negative portrayal of the state’s farmers. I believe we all know the story of Joad family.

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

This book was banned originally in 1885 and is in the top 20 on the American Library Association’s list of most frequently banned books. In part, it was banned because of the portrayal of the friendship between Huck, a white boy, and Jim, a slave. It has been repeatedly banned because of the excessive use of the horrible N-word. I think we all know this story also.

Animal Farm by George Orwell

This book was banned by some as Communist propaganda. It was also banned by the United Arab Emirates on the grounds that it contained written or illustrated material that contradicts Islamic and Arab values, including pictures of alcoholic drinks, pigs, and “indecent images.” Another well-known and studied book.

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas.

This book has been banned for profanity, and it was thought to promote an anti-police message

It is the story of a 16-year-old girl, looking for justice, after a friend is shot. Her reaction has her living two lives, one white and one Black and is told with no holds barred. Our reader found herself mesmerized and wondering what kind of world do modern kids live in, or at least some of them?

Wild Swans by Jung Chang

This book, a family memoir, was banned in China because of its unflattering depiction of Chairman Mao It covers three generations of a family. Grandmother was a concubine of a warlord and when change came she was given to a physician. Daughter and her husband were gung ho members of the Red Guard. Life was not easy and, as often happened, they were lied about, turned in and jailed. Mother survived, Father was never the same again. At the time they were privileged so their daughter was well educated and became a teacher.  In going to an international conference she escaped, took asylum, and is currently living in England.There is a lot of history, culture and love in this book.

Howl by Alan Ginsburg

Our reader was fortunate enough to hear Mr. Ginsburg read this poem some time ago. She has never forgotten that moment.  If not totally banned for obscenity the book was heavily frowned upon as were several others of that genre and generation.

The Portable Beat Reader by various authors

Many of these authors met at Columbia University in the early 1950s. They were the beatniks who did not like what they saw and were very outspoken. Their books were seized by San Francisco Custom’s and treated as obscene. Some even went to trial on these charges.

We ended with a discussion of the books we read as a youth and reread when older and more mature and the difference that made in our opinions of the books. Those opinions went both ways.