Sunday, October 2, 2016

Banned Book Week Day 7: Did anyone ever censor your reading?

In honor of Banned Books Week (September 26 through October 1, 2016), GHPALS members are reporting their answers to five prompts suggested by the Banned Book Week coalition.(See our post Banned Books Week.)

Our final prompt also came out of our discussions of the other prompts. Did anyone ever censor your reading?

As always, our members' responses were spirited.
  • When I was a freshman in high school during the Vietnam War, my Mom ran the library at a hospital where wounded soldiers were sent for treatment. Publishers donated boxes and boxes of remaindered books so they could get a tax deduction. Most of the titles were useless–few young men want to read Beowulf or Sir Gwain and the Green Knight, titles dumped because the covers were redesigned. Mom would buy mysteries and thrillers with her own money and bring home the great literature. One of those books was an English translation of The Satyricon. I picked it up because the cover said it was Roman and the world's first novel. It didn't say anything about it being racy. My Latin teacher saw me with it and confiscated it until she could talk to my Mom. She gave it back to me later that day, smiling when she handed it to me. My Mom had said it was OK for me to read because I wouldn't understand any of it. I didn't.
  • My English teacher  was fired when it was learned we were reading John Locke instead of some dumb novel on the approved reading list. We had to read The House on Mango Street as our next assignment and I lost all respect for the English department.
  • I was running the Scholastic Book Fair at my daughter's middle school when some parents asked me not to sell the Harry Potter books. I moved them to a prominent location instead.
  • My mother once tore up a paperback book because it was "just dirty." I had already read it, but the book was certainly pornographic and had no redeeming social value whatever. Mom didn't object to the book being sold, just the location of this copy. "There's a place for books like this," she said, "and it isn't in my house."

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