Banned Books Week 2017
No new episode this week, just a reminder that it is Banned Books Week 2017. At Novel Ideas we have read several books that are frequently challenged or banned from schools and libraries. Part of this is by intention; neither of us are particularly into censorship. The other part is happenstance; many excellent books have been challenged, and frequently the challenged material is part of what makes the story memorable or compelling.
When you look at the reasons that books are challenged, those reasons seem to me (Ben is writing this post, but Gabs will probably agree with most of this) to be based partly on values that I don’t agree with, and partly on laziness. For example, most of the books from this year’s list have been challenged because they include LGBTQ characters. Other reasons for challenging books from recent years include acknowledging teenage sexuality, or even just including characters that defy authority figures. We don’t need to protect children from these ideas, these are real things that exist in the real world.
The reason I describe these challenges as lazy is because you can always have a conversation with your child about how the content of the book fits into the world. Just because someone is doing something in a book doesn’t mean that the intent of the author is to glorify that thing. And even if it is, that doesn’t mean that you as the reader are required to also glorify that thing. And I would further suggest that if your ideology is so fragile that merely being made aware of the existence of something outside of that worldview will poison your child’s mind, then your ideology probably needs some reform.
Having said my piece, I present you with a non-comprehensive list of episodes we have done featuring banned books.
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian – Sherman Alexie
The Perks of Being a Wallflower – Stephen Chbosky
Brave New World – Aldous Huxley
To Kill A Mockingbird – Harper Lee
The Color Purple – Alice Walker
The Golden Compass (from His Dark Materials trilogy) – Philip Pullman
Novel Ideas is back! At least for this week. The plan had been to get this episode up around the time the movie was released, so expect a lot of hedging on estimates of when new episodes will be released. Adding context makes comments about having more content up by the end of the year more understandable, more amusing, and a bit more shameful. At any rate, here is Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins, perhaps you’ve heard of it? If you listen, you will hear discussions about PTSD, the morality of war, weaknesses of characterization, and-dare I say it?-feminism. Not to mention messing with the shippers, different varieties of tridents, the curative power of babies in fiction, and why Gale is the worst.
If the audio quality seems off, we recorded and mixed this on a new rig. So Gabs is present via the power of the internet rather than the power of sitting at a table and may sound like she is present via the power of two tin cans linked by a string. Our apologies. Expect more of it. Eventually.
The music bump is “Back on the Streets Again” by the always timely Tower of Power.
93 – Mockingjay – The Bad Guys Would Eat Its Meat
Ben: 8/10. A more mature story than the first two with less action, but more interesting discussion points.
Gabs: 7.5/10 Peetas. (And zero Gales because he is terrible.) The book has some issues, but damn it, it’s trying.
Welcome to Novel Ideas, a podcast about books. We are Ben and Gabs Roman, siblings who love to talk about books. Since we always talk about what we’re reading, we thought we’d go ahead and record it. Will you care? Should you care? Listen and find out!