“‘You want to grow up to be a lady, don’t you?’ I said not particularly.”

It’s Banned Books Week! The THIRTIETH ANNIVERSARY of Banned Books Week! We here at Lucy’s Football can not let this pass without mentioning this oh-so-important week. By we, I of course mean me. And I suppose Dumbcat. He’s kind of hitched his wagon to my star. I’ll let him. He’s my fella. But Dumbcat doesn’t care so much about Banned Books Week, to be honest. Mostly books are things that Dumbcat likes to sleep on, or things that I read that take time away from me being able to pet him. (If a book is good, I get all wrapped up in it and forget the pettings. Much to his dismay.)

Yes, books are still getting banned left and right (and, well, I guess up and down, and sideways, or whatever.) Yes, we live in 2012. In good news, it’s easier for people to get their hands on banned books now than it used to be. There’s this thing called the interwebs? And many places you can purchase ALL the books on said interwebs? So it’s not like back in the day when if a book was banned and you were shit out of luck, so sorry, Charlie. But that’s kind of beside the point. Books are still getting banned, and for the same old stupid reasons.

Let’s talk about the top ten banned books of 2011 (the top ten books of 2012 aren’t compiled yet – or, if they are, I can only find them in one place, and that website ANNOYED me, and had a VIDEO I COULD NOT TURN OFF, so we’re talking about the books of 2011.) This is fine, last year we talked about the top books of 2010 so it’s like a thing, I guess.

Out of the top ten banned books of the year, yours truly has read two. That is because a lot of these look…well, unlike something I would enjoy. Sorry. I don’t think they should be BANNED, no no no, I just think – hey, kids, there are better books out there for you, is my thought about this situation.

According to the ALA, the top ten banned books of 2011 were:

  1. ttyl; ttfn; l8r, g8r (series), by Lauren Myracle (Reasons: offensive language; religious viewpoint; sexually explicit; unsuited to age group)
  2. The Color of Earth (series), by Kim Dong Hwa (Reasons: nudity; sex education; sexually explicit; unsuited to age group)
  3. The Hunger Games trilogy, by Suzanne Collins (Reasons: anti-ethnic; anti-family; insensitivity; offensive language; occult/satanic; violence)
  4. My Mom’s Having A Baby! A Kid’s Month-by-Month Guide to Pregnancy, by Dori Hillestad Butler (Reasons: nudity; sex education; sexually explicit; unsuited to age group)
  5. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie (Reasons: offensive language; racism; religious viewpoint; sexually explicit; unsuited to age group)
  6. Alice (series), by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor (Reasons: nudity; offensive language; religious viewpoint)
  7. Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley (Reasons: insensitivity; nudity; racism; religious viewpoint; sexually explicit)
  8. What My Mother Doesn’t Know, by Sonya Sones (Reasons: nudity; offensive language; sexually explicit)
  9. Gossip Girl (series), by Cecily Von Ziegesar (Reasons: drugs; offensive language; sexually explicit)
  10. To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee (Reasons: offensive language; racism)

Those ttyl books look silly to me. They’re the “Internet Girls” series and apparently they’re all written as a series of IMs and texts and such but they’re also DIRTY. But, you know what? If I was 16, I would probably want to be reading these. I liked titillating stuff back then. And if I was 16 now, I’d be all into the internettin’ so they’d probably speak to me, you know?

Hey, book banners. I’m going to give you a tip. If you BAN A BOOK? It makes people WANT IT MORE. It’s like reverse psychology. Tell someone they can’t have something and it makes them WANT that thing. It works with people – isn’t the forbidden fruit always the sweetest? Tell me you haven’t ever had a crush on someone who’s taken and I’ll call you a flat-out liar – and it works with things like consumer goods (people ALWAYS want things that are limited-run and limited-release) and it works with books. Tell kids they’re not supposed to be reading this and tell them why – IT IS TOO SCANDALOUS! – and they’re going to be on this like white on rice. Like…like teens on the interweb. Like bad decisions on the Romney/Ryan campaign.

This is what you turn people into when you ban books. Veruca Salt. Is this what you want? A whole generation of Veruca Salts? I can’t possibly imagine it is.

The Color of Earth looks interesting. It’s about life in rural Korea. And apparently there’s sex. And GIRLS learning about their BODIES ZOMG. I’d read this book. I’d read it when I was a teen and I’d read it now. But HEAVENS FORFEND we let GIRLS KNOW ABOUT HOW THEIR BODIES WORK! That is SEKRIT INFORMASHUNS.

The Hunger Games trilogy! I’ve READ this one! And I’d be totally comfortable with my teen reading it. Or my intelligent pre-teen (as long as I could have a discussion with him or her afterward – but let’s be clear, were I a parent, we’d be discussing most of their reads together. I think one of the best parts of a read is the post-read discussion, and I’d want any child of mine to be able to discuss anything that came up with me. I have a billion reasons NOT to become a mom; missing out on seeing a kid of mine’s face after reading Fahrenheit 451 or Lord of the Flies for the first time, that kind of kills my soul a little. I’m not going to lie.) I think it opens up some good discussions about government and entertainment and reality television and friendship and cruelty. All things that would be good discussions to have with a kid, no? (Also, there was Satanism in The Hunger Games? What’d I miss?)

My Mom’s Having a Baby. I don’t even…seriously? THIS IS A GUIDE SO KIDS UNDERSTAND CHILDBIRTH. Why are we so scared about kids understanding how human bodies work? They’re already having babies. Maybe if they UNDERSTOOD better how bodies worked, they wouldn’t be HAVING so many babies? The banning of this makes me embarrassed for the human race.

“It makes the man and woman want to get even closer to each other.” OK, yeah, let’s ban this, it made me giggle. (SIDE NOTE DON’T REALLY BAN THIS. I’m just a 5-year-old child with the inappropriate giggling, is all.)

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian is supposed to be fantastic. I haven’t read it but intelligent people I know say it’s brilliant. I take their word for it. I assume this “racism” of which they speak is that it shows how poorly Native Americans are treated. OH NO NO NO we don’t want people seeing THAT! A lot of books, just a tip, are banned because they are TRUE. People are scared by true things. We don’t want our children knowing the truth! It is TOO TOO SCARY! (Psst, it’s not that scary. I grew up reading pretty much whatever the hell I wanted, including SCARY BANNED BOOKS, and I’m fine. SHUT UP I TOTALLY AM.)

I researched the Alice series and from what I can tell, there are a billion books about a girl named Alice and her life as she grows up. UGH. Let girls have something to READ that is about REAL GIRLS. We were all sneaking Judy Blume books when I was a kid with their shocking masturbation scenes and you know what? WE DIDN’T END UP BROKEN, WORLD.

Brave New World is a sci-fi novel from the 30s. We’re still banning this? HOW SHOCKING CAN THIS EVEN BE? It’s like you people aren’t even trying hard enough. A., how many kids are still reading this, and B., I’m sure that whatever Huxley wrote almost 100 years ago isn’t as bad as you think it is. I think Gramma Bookbanner told you this was naughty and you just assumed it was. Have you even read this? Seriously?

What My Mother Doesn’t Know sounds like something that would make me commit hara-kiri but that teen girls would like. It’s a teen girl and there is dating and all the sex and such. DON’T LET OUR KIDS READ ABOUT THE SEX! (Side note: my wonderful friend R. said she heard someone on TV say “the sex” the other day and she thought, “AMY SAYS THAT!” and I couldn’t be more pleased. I HAVE A LEGACY!)

I’m sure the Gossip Girl books are terrible. The television show isn’t great. I keep watching it, though. I LIKE THE CLOTHES SHUT UP. And Chuck. I like Chuck. But teen girls like these things. Has anyone but me noticed that we’re banning all the books for teen girls, but no books for teen boys? What does THAT mean, I wonder?

Sigh. YES I know he’s young enough to be my kid. I like broody, leave me be.

And, of course, I’d be disappointed if it wasn’t included: To Kill a Mockingbird. Because we wouldn’t want our children learning about right and wrong and racism and the best male role model in the history of the world, Mr. Atticus Finch. Can any of you who’ve read the book even say that name without a little thrill? “Jean Louise, stand up. Your father’s passin’.” I have tears just WRITING that line. Or how about “Thank you for my children, Arthur.” TEARS. One of the best books of my life; a book that taught me important things about life; a book that taught me important things about writing. Yes. Yes, please. Let’s ban that. Let’s ban the shit out of that. Wouldn’t want our kids reading THAT.

And side note, seriously, I kind of want to marry Atticus Finch. I think maybe I haven’t found my Atticus Finch yet. I’m pretty sure he’s out there, though. I know a lot of people grew up wanting to marry rockstars or movie stars or whatever, but I wanted (and still want) to marry Atticus Finch. That’s not asking too much, right? So, if there’s an Atticus Finch out there (who doesn’t necessarily have to be a lawyer, of course – it’s not the lawyer I want, it’s the calm, and the deep, enduring sense of knowing what’s right, and the conviction to follow through with it, even when it’s the hardest possible road you can take; it’s a man who will say “The one thing that doesn’t abide by majority rule is a person’s conscience,” and mean it, you know?) you give me a call.

Happy Banned Books Week, my little licorice nibs. Read something scandalous, will you? If for no other reason than IT MAKES THE SMALL-MINDED ASSHOLES FURIOUS.

(The title is from my beloved To Kill a Mockingbird. If you haven’t read it in a while, check out the Goodreads quote page. I’ve been re-reading the quotes for twenty minutes and BAWLING. Yeah. Ban this book. Because something this powerful – you wouldn’t want that in the hands of our children, now would you?)

About lucysfootball

I'm not the girl with the most cake. Someday. SOMEDAY. View all posts by lucysfootball

27 responses to ““‘You want to grow up to be a lady, don’t you?’ I said not particularly.”

  • sj

    Man, I read BNW on my own LONG before we read it in AP English, and English class sucked ALL THE FUN OUT OF IT.

    I think it’s scandalous cos there’s lots of discussions of how everyone just has sex all the time, and then the natives are all naked.


  • Charleen

    For the record, I think banning books is ridiculous.

    That said, as a parent (I’m not one now, but I will be one in the future, or at least that’s the plan) I don’t know that I’d want my kid reading My Mom’s Having A Baby. It just seems like too much information for the age-level it seems to be aimed at. I don’t know, I’m out of touch with kids books. I think I’d be fine with grade-school-aged kids reading it. But like toddler-aged (which is how it reads to me)? I don’t know. Maybe I’m being too hypothetically over-protective. Maybe I’m not giving my hypothetical toddlers enough credit.

    And maybe I’m even being a tiny bit hypocritical, because I totally don’t get the parents who are like, “I don’t want my kids reading such-and-such,” when “such-and-such” is Harry Potter, or the Hunger Games, or most any other controversial YA. But, I guess technically that is their right. (Although I HATE the idea of parents who don’t even READ the thing they’re against, they just HEAR things and ASSUME it’s bad. If you don’t want your kid exposed to something, fine, but make an informed decision!) Though I agree with you, I’d much rather let my kid read something and then talk to them about it afterward. I guess in my toddler scenario, I just don’t see them getting it, and no need to worry them about those details just yet.

    Man, this is way longer than I meant it to be.


    • lucysfootball

      Well, here’s my thought. I think it’s better for a parent themselves to tell a kid about the facts of life, sure. But I don’t know that the book should be banned. I just think maybe parents could do it better themselves as they know their kids better than a book does.

      (I didn’t know about the facts of life until way too old. I think I would have liked a book like this, honestly. I was innocent way too long. And kinda dumb.)


      • Charleen

        Yeah, I don’t even know how offensive a book would have to be for me to agree with banning it. But there’s a HUGE grey area between wanting a book should be banned and thinking it’s appropriate for every kid ever.


        • lucysfootball

          Totally agreed. Also? Some books are garbage, and I think my imaginary never-will-have-them children can do better. Don’t want to BAN them, but I think my kids can do better than READ them.


  • Andreas Heinakroon

    *sigh* This would make me angry, but I can’t muster the energy. Stupid people who are stupid do stupid things. I hate stupid things.


  • Kris Rudin (@krisrudin)

    SIGH. TKAM – one of my ALL-TIME favorite books, if not my favorite. I probably read it once a year (and now that we know I’m in my 50’s, that’s a LOT of readings!) It just saddens me SO much that this is banned so frequently. So, so SAD.

    The ‘Part-time Indian’ book is truly brilliant. I think you would really like it. Sherman Alexie has a wonderful narrative style. And this one is kind of targeted at teen boys – at least Alexie says he gets tons of comments from boys telling him that the characters in the book are just like they are and they’ve never read anything like that before. Oh, and if you EVER get a chance to see Alexie at a reading, GO!! He’s brilliant, funny, intelligent, marvelous!

    Oh, and I second the recommendation to read “Brave New World”. Totally awesome. (Hmm, I think it’s time I re-read it! ;-)


  • Samantha

    I am somewhat amused that they are still banning Brave New World and To Kill a Mockingbird. Both fantastic books, by the way. Brave New World I feel was pretty scandalous for its time and even now is still somewhat because most people don’t openly condone having sex with ALL THE PEOPLE.

    I read What My Mother Doesn’t Know when I was thirteen or fourteen? At the time at least, it did seem somewhat poetically if not well-written for what it was, if not super teen-angsty.

    My parents were never super controlling about what I read, mostly because they don’t read much. The only books that I ever got in trouble for were the V.C. Andrews Dawn series, and that’s because my mom read Flowers in the Attic when she was young and got mad that there were sex scenes in the book. (I was hiding them, so it’s possible that’s why she got angry. I don’t know.)

    It’s kind of funny, because some of the “scandalous” or “trashy” novels (mostly crime thrillers) I read in my teen years were supplied by my grandma, who is also an avid reader. She’s awesome. :)


    • lucysfootball

      The only book my mom took away was one about a child that was molested. She didn’t think it was appropriate. It was a little graphic. Other than that, she kind of minded her own business, I think. She knew we had very different taste in reads so she just let me do my thing.


  • Mindy

    Yes, all the seriousness of the subject matter, which you handle most beautifully, and the only comment I have for you is this: I would totally marry Atticus Finch any day of the week and twice on Sundays. Let’s hope there are at least two more out there, one for you and one for me.


  • rachael

    I will admit I haven’t read many of the books on this list – but To Kill a Mockingbird NEEDS to be read! By everyone!! And what part of The Hunger Games was satanic????? You know me, I’m super conservative and especially with what my nieces are exposed to, etc. I was SO EXCITED when the almost 11 year old niece started reading The Hunger Games. I knew it would hold her interest and could not wait to DISCUSS it with her afterwards!! Other than the violence to young kids, I don’t know what would be objectionable about the book!

    PS – LOVE that i got a shoutout :)


    • lucysfootball

      I know, right? I don’t remember there being anything satanic? I feel like I missed something? The violence is what I’d worry about with kids, but as long as you could discuss it with younger readers, I think it’d be ok.

      YAY! All the shoutouts! :) I AM GOING TO MISS YOU!!!!


  • 35JupiterDrive

    I’m pretty convinced that the bookbanners just want everyone to be autonatoms who believe whatever they believe and do whatever they do. Talk about boring. I’m snoring.


    • lucysfootball

      Yep. And it would be boring. SO boring. Plus, I’m very obstinate. If someone tells me I can’t do something, that’s what I want to do. Immediately. Even if I didn’t want to do it before they told me no.


  • becomingcliche

    I was clearly reading all the wrong books when I was a child. None of them had nekkid people and stuff. Thank you, banned book people! You’ve found a generation of kids some new reading material!


    • lucysfootball

      Hee! My books ALSO didn’t have nekkid pictures! Maybe a little nekkidness. But barely. I grew up a long time ago, though! I didn’t see nudity until the ill-fated “hey, look, want to see a Playboy?” incident in…I want to say, junior year of high school, probably? I was terribly sheltered.


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