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 Five Banned Books That You Should Read

Five Banned Books That You Should Read (That You Probably Haven't)

Tuesday 24 September 2013

This week is Banned Books Week, where librarians and other organizations highlight the books that have been subjected to threats of censorship – and actual censorship – in schools, libraries and nations around the globe. Among the frequently challenged books include classics like The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain and popular books like The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. Many are books that you really ought to read, like Cat’s Cradle or Harry Potter. But then, you probably have read them – either because your school made you or because all your friends pushed them on you.

In between, though, are lots of books that you might not have heard of – or, at the very least, heard of but weren’t required to read when you were in school. With that in mind, I’ve created a list of five challenged or banned books that you probably haven’t read. Celebrate Banned Books Week by picking one up and giving it a read!

Our Family Tree: An Evolution Story by Lisa Westberg Peters

Okay, so this book is less for you and more for any small children you know and love. This beautifully illustrated, beautifully written book by Peters helps break down the concepts of evolution – not easy concepts in the slightest – and renders them in terms that small children can pick up and understand. According to the American Library Association, this book has been challenged in schools and libraries across the country – most likely because it succeeds in explaining those concepts, and there are a still a lot of people in this country who don’t want those concepts taught to children.

Killer Quote: ”When we began, we didn’t look like people. We didn’t have two eyes to blink or ten toes to wiggle. We were just tiny round cells in the deep, dark sea. On the outside, we were so small, we were almost invisible. But on the inside, we had the same kind of spiraling genetic code for life we have today.”

The Curious Incident of the Dog In The Night-time by Mark Haddon

This novel is barely 10 years old and it’s already been challenged in several school and public libraries. The book itself is a masterpiece – it’s written in the first person from the perspective of Christopher, a teenager with autism, and his struggles to understand the people around him. The title refers both to a line from a Sherlock Holmes novel as well as Christopher’s own efforts to emulate Holmes, who he sees as a hero, by solving the “case” of who killed a dog in his neighborhood. It’s both fascinating and gut-wrenching, and I highly recommend it.

Killer Quote: ”And because there is something they can’t see people think it has to be special, because people always think there is something special about what they can’t see, like the dark side of the moon, or the other side of a black hole, or in the dark when they wake up at night and they’re scared.”

Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems by Galileo Galilei

This book hasn’t been banned for awhile, but it was banned at the time it was written. That’s because this is Galileo’s famous text in which he defends the Copernican model of the solar system, where the Earth moves around the Sun, against the current theory, Ptolemy’s, which said the Sun moved around the Earth. The book was banned by the Catholic Church and Galileo was sentenced to house arrest for it. To be sure, some of the science in this text is definitely out of date, but it’s still worth a read for several reasons. For one, it goes beyond just a discussion of two different astronomical theories and into the philosophy that should underlay proper scientific inquiry – a lot of which is still relevant today. Second, it’s worth reading because its immensely readable and is, in some spots, just wickedly funny. This is not a fair or balanced dialogue, and Galileo gleefully twists the knife at times. It’s worth reading.

Killer Quote: ”If what we are discussing were a point of law or of the humanities, in which neither true nor false exists, one might trust in subtlety of mind and readiness of tongue and in the greater experience of the writers, and expect him who excelled in those things to make his reasoning most plausible, and one might judge it to be the best. But in the natural sciences, whose conclusions are true and necessary and have nothing to do with human will, one must take care not to place oneself in the defense of error; for here a thousand Demostheneses and a thousand Aristotles would be left in the lurch by every mediocre wit who happened to hit upon the truth for himself.”

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  1. Forbes:
    Banned Books.


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