God wrote a banned book | VailDaily.com

God wrote a banned book

EDWARDS — Civil disobedience can be fun, and that's why you should march straight into your local bookstore or library and declare in a clear and steady voice, "I'll have a banned book, please."

It's Banned Book Week across this great land of ours.

Discussion questions

To celebrate, The Bookworm of Edwards, in The Riverwalk at Edwards ordered all kinds of banned books and has a couple of extensive displays that spark thoughts such as:

• "Which banned book character would you want to have lunch with?"

• "Which banned book would you go to jail defending?"

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• "What on God's green earth was coursing through James Joyce's brain when he wrote that?"

"It's one of those things people get excited about," said Mackenzie Poffenberger, of the Bookworm.

Topping the full list throughout the past decade is the Harry Potter series. Toni Morrison and Judy Blume make multiple appearances. Kurt Vonnegut wrote a couple of banned books.

So did God. The Holy Bible's religious perspective makes it an annual target.

semi-subversives

Robin Bryant has been a children's librarian with the Eagle Valley Library District for a long time. Chances are she helped teach you or your kids to read — or maybe both.

Bryant was bemused and encouraged when she was putting together her Banned Book Week display. She discovered that lots of the banned books she wanted to display were already checked out, bless their semi-subversive little hearts.

Bluster for fun and profit

Books are rarely challenged these days, but when they are, the challenging usually begins in a public library or school, somewhere the body politic retains the illusion of influence.

Carrie Mae Wack works in the Avon Public Library's adult services section. Occasionally people question some of the books, DVDs and media in the library. Some express concerns about inappropriate content, religious views and sexuality, Wack said.

At Avon and other local public libraries there's a procedure. If you think something is inappropriate, you say so and fill out a form. Several librarians will give the book a thorough going-over.

They have not yet yanked anything from their shelves, but sometimes books are moved to a different category, from the youth to the adult sections, for example.

Wack says the conventional wisdom among authors and other capitalists goes something like this: "The best way to make sure your book is a best seller is to make the list for Banned Book Week. As soon as people see they're not supposed to read it, they'll go buy it," she said.

Hardly an epidemic

The thing about banned and challenged books is that you can get them nearly anywhere — most libraries, bookstores and online, points out Jonah Goldberg. He's editor at large for the National Review Online a fellow with the American Enterprise Institute.

"It's all so very brave and subversive!" Goldberg wrote sarcastically for USA Today.

Most banned books are not really banned, he says.

The American Library Association lumps together banned and challenged books, he says.

Banned books have been removed from a library's or school's shelves. A challenge is when someone questions the suitability of a book, he says.

"If you complain that your 8-year old kid shouldn't be reading a book with lots of sex, violence or profanity until he or she is a little older, you're not a good parent; you're a would-be book-banner," Goldberg writes.

It's all perspective, Goldberg says. The U.S. is home to more than 98,000 public schools, educating roughly 50 million students. It's also home to 33,000 private schools and around 10,000 public libraries, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

Reported challenges run about 350 a year, according to the American Library Association.

That's about one parent complaint for every 100,000 students.

That's hardly the epidemic it's purported to be, Goldberg says.

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and rwyrick@vaildaily.com.

Among the challenged classics

The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald

The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger

The Grapes of Wrath, by John Steinbeck

The Holy Bible by God

To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee

The Color Purple, by Alice Walker

Ulysses, by James Joyce

Beloved, by Toni Morrison

The Lord of the Flies, by William Golding

1984, by George Orwell

Lolita, by Vladmir Nabokov

Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck

Catch-22, by Joseph Heller

Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley

Animal Farm, by George Orwell

The Sun Also Rises, by Ernest Hemingway

As I Lay Dying, by William Faulkner

A Farewell to Arms, by Ernest Hemingway

Their Eyes Were Watching God, by Zora Neale Hurston

Invisible Man, by Ralph Ellison

Song of Solomon, by Toni Morrison

Gone with the Wind, by Margaret Mitchell

Native Son, by Richard Wright

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, by Ken Kesey

Slaughterhouse-Five, by Kurt Vonnegut

For Whom the Bell Tolls, by Ernest Hemingway

The Call of the Wild, by Jack London

Go Tell it on the Mountain, by James Baldwin

All the King’s Men, by Robert Penn Warren

The Lord of the Rings, by J.R.R. Tolkien

The Jungle, by Upton Sinclair

Lady Chatterley’s Lover, by D.H. Lawrence

A Clockwork Orange, by Anthony Burgess

The Awakening, by Kate Chopin

In Cold Blood, by Truman Capote

The Satanic Verses, by Salman Rushdie

Sophie’s Choice, by William Styron

Sons and Lovers, by D.H. Lawrence

Cat’s Cradle, by Kurt Vonnegut

A Separate Peace, by John Knowles

Naked Lunch, by William S. Burroughs

Brideshead Revisited, by Evelyn Waugh

Women in Love, by D.H. Lawrence

The Naked and the Dead, by Norman Mailer

Tropic of Cancer, by Henry Miller

An American Tragedy, by Theodore Dreiser

Rabbit, Run, by John Updike