It’s no-Baby Wednesday! I know, I know I missed Monday but it was for a good reason. The BF and I took a mini-vacation/work trip to New Hampshire for a couple of days. I must say, the wind down was much needed and definitely helped us both de-stress. However, I’ll have more about that and all things trying to conceive on Friday. For today, no babies. I’ve had a wonky cycle and definitely need the “not thinking about it” idea that is supposed to be behind NBW.
So I know I usually do makeup stuff and unboxing posts on NBW but I don’t have any new boxes and I don’t have any particularly strong feelings about makeup today. Instead I decided I would support Banned Book Awareness Week. I’m a huge reader. As I type I can count 9 books sitting on my bedside table that I am currently reading (including Taking Charge of Your Fertility by Toni Weschler) and that isn’t even including the list of books I have downloaded on my Nook. I’ve always been a book fan. They’re my escape from reality. As a child when my parents were going through their divorce and everything was crazy in my life I would lose myself in a book to forget about everything. I do the same thing during my two-week wait. Because of this I have read a number of books that have at one time or another been banned for one reason or another. Many of them have helped define and shaped me and I don’t believe any have “harmed” me, which in essence is the reason something should be banned right? So today I have compiled my top 5 favorite banned books (picking only five was hard) and will explain why I love them and how they helped shape me, teach me something, and even just made me feel emotionally.
#5 The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
The Perks of Being a Wallflower has been described as some as the modern-day Catcher in the Rye (also a banned book and definitely one of my favorites.) It is about a high school boy writing letters about his life to an undisclosed person. In general it is a book about what it is like to go through high school and dealing with all of the emotions and hormones that come with it. This book was banned because of its language, mention of drug use, and sexual nature. I don’t want to give anything away in case people want to read it but yeah, it has some fucked up stuff going on in it. But for the most part it isn’t stuff that every teenager (not all of it but a lot of it) hasn’t gone through. That’s why it spoke to me. It’s real. It feels real when you read it. I associated with Charlie (the main character) very much so. He was smart and loved to read, he was socially awkward and unsure of what was acceptable and what wasn’t, he was learning who he was, and he was dealing with anxiety issues. All things I’ve gone through, and were definitely going through at the time. Granted, he had some much bigger emotional issues and reasons for them that I hadn’t experienced, but for the most part he could have been me. If I was a boy. I can’t remember having read a book before this one that really showed how it feels to have social anxiety in such a realistic way. I got that. I felt it when I read it. I still do when I reread it.
#4 Go Ask Alice by Anonymous (Beatrice Sparks)
Go Ask Alice is actually quite a heavy book, albeit a short one. It is the diary of an unnamed girl in the 60’s and her history of drug use and abuse. Starting out as your typically gawky high school girl it depicts her emergence into the drug culture and how it overwhelms her leading her to run away from home and take part in some questionable activity. It was originally published as a non-fiction book but was later to be found to be a story written by Beatrice Sparks that was based on real life events of one of her patient’s. I was 12 years old when I first read this book. Reading level wise it was a very easy read but content wise it was quite heavy. It has been banned for its obvious mention of drug use, sexual content, profanity, rape, and runaways. I remember finishing it the first time, staring at my ceiling and thinking about what the author went through, and then picking it up and rereading it again right then and there. I had always been told drugs were bad (weren’t we all) and this book definitely depicted them as bad. It had scenes that made me curious but for the most part painted a very detailed and clear picture as to why they were bad. (I won’t lie I later went on in life to try a thing or two here and there like most college kids do, but it was never my thing. Give me alcohol over drugs any day. However, I never tried anything because of this book like the people who banned it might want you to believe.)
The thing I found most interesting though was the way the book depicts how the events in your life can push you to do and try something you may not necessarily have otherwise. How those drugs can warp your sense of reality and make you believe something you may not truly believe at the root of who you are. I always found the psychological aspects of the book fascinating, even at 12 though I didn’t understand it as deeply as I do now. I remember a few years later in life when some of the kids in my class go into heavy drugs and my mother was all “there goes another kid snorting Oxy’s,” and rolling her eyes. I remember thinking back to Go Ask Alice and saying to her “yeah but have you ever wondered why he decided to pick them up. Maybe it’s just because it seemed fun but maybe there is something else going on.” I could tell by the way she looked at me that she hadn’t thought about it. I’m not saying that every person who does, and gets caught up in drugs, is doing it because they’re messed up and trying to lose themselves, not at all. In some ways the author of the book wasn’t either. She didn’t do them the first time because she was having a hard time, she did them because she didn’t know and then she enjoyed it so she did them some more. However, later events do push her to use them to alter her reality and help her forget. I guess what I’m saying is the psyche is quite an interesting thing, as is drug culture, and the two things put together.
#3 1984 by George Orwell
I will begin by saying I love dystopian novels and always have. For whatever reason in the past few years they’ve been popping up everywhere and seem to have taken over young adult literature and movies but I fell in love with the genre when I first read 1984 at the age of 15. Does it really need a synopsis? Who doesn’t know 1984, right? It is a novel about a man living and working in a totalitarian world. His life is completely controlled by his government. From his job, to where he lives, to who he sleeps with. Everything is under the government’s, aka Big Brother’s control. This book has been banned (ironically as it pitches a view that censorship is corruption) typically for it’s “communist and anti-governmental” views. I’ve never trusted our government 100%, and I still don’t. I don’t necessarily have a reason, in general I have trust issues and never completely trust anyone so why would I give 100% trust to the government? Nope, no thanks. On the other hand, that doesn’t mean I don’t like my country or think that our government doesn’t have good people or do good things for us. I do, I just know not everything is all sunshine and roses all the time. Anyway, this book didn’t necessarily help me see it any brighter. It definitely made me realize maybe there are things that should be questioned and that we should be 100% trust in other people all of the time. We need to trust our instincts and figure some things out for ourselves.
#2 The Harry Potter Series by JK Rowling
I know, I know. Harry Potter is going to be on everyone’s list. What do you expect though? I’m a 26-year-old girl who loves to read, I grew up with Harry. I’m not going to waste my time assuming you don’t know what this is about. It is so franchised that it has constantly been thrown in your face to the point that you probably know even if you didn’t want to. Harry is by far the series that most defines me. I was in the 6th grade when our teacher read the first book to us. She had all three so I borrowed them and reread the first for myself and then read the next two. I was in love. I was always one of the first five people to be on a waiting list when new book dates were announced. My mother drove me 45 minutes out of her way the day the books came out so I could read it as soon as possible. I went to all 8 movie releases at midnight, even though I think the actors were atrocious and the adaptation could have been better. I was on forums, I read fan fiction, I am on Pottermore to this day (rosescarlet9 if anyone wants to add me as a friend.) I still listen to the Mugglecast podcast when it comes out (it is sporadic these days.) and I listen to a podcast that is doing a global reread. Still. When I am sad, angry, or just in need of a long-lost friend I make myself a glass of tea, put on my pajamas, and snuggle up under a giant blanket with one of the potter books. My Goblet of Fire book is so worn that the cover is barely hanging onto it. It’s an original too, you know with the mistake at the end of the book with Harry’s father’s ghost like form coming out of the wand before his mother’s (or at least you do if you’re a huge fan.)
Probably the nerdiest thing I ever did, but also the thing that has put me here as a blogger more than anything else, was join online RPG forums based on Harry Potter. The surmise is that the creators of the forum take the Harry Potter universe (not necessarily during Harry’s time. Sometimes it is during his kids or his parents or even the founder’s of Hogwarts) and create a plot, sometimes it is loose and others it is very strict. From there you create characters, sometimes canon and sometimes not, to place in this universe and interact with others. It’s all writing based. You are creating your character the same way you would if you wrote a book. What they look like, their past, how they think, everything. Then you start a thread with another person on the board and write about your characters in a back and forth fashion, feeding off from one another. Your characters become your baby. You want them to be happy but sometimes you just have to put them in a bad situation to see what happens. As you “play” you also get to figure out your own individual writing style and watch it grow and prosper. It’s really quite amazing. If you’re interested in just looking at one to see what it is about there are still a bunch around. Alas, I am not a part of any of them anymore. However there is one here and here you can check out for shits and giggles.
Okay, so I’ve gotten carried away but I think you can see how this book has influenced me. Mostly in my writing. It’s the book that made me want to write. I would love to write a book but I can’t come up with an idea that is original enough to be good. Instead I write a blog about my life and the difficulties of trying to conceive, hopefully to one day be turned into a mommy blog about the difficulties of raising a child. All of that is because of Harry Potter’s influence on me. I highly doubt I would be here if it weren’t for those books.
#1 Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card
As big an influence as Potter has had on my life you may wonder why it isn’t number one. I love Potter and always will but it isn’t my favorite book. It’s my favorite series. My favorite books (equally) are The Cider House Rules (which I’m sure has been banned) and Ender’s Game. Ender’s Game is about a young boy who is watched by the government and eventually taken from his home (not reluctantly, the family always knew it was a possibility. It’s why they were allowed to have a third child) to train to fight off an alien race. It sounds absurd, I know, and I’m not usually a sci-fi fan but this is way more about the human psyche and how you decide what is right and what is wrong, than it is about aliens. This book has been banned for religious reasons, for strong language, and of course because of Card’s very vocal anti-homosexual beliefs. Here’s the thing, I think Card is a raging dick. I have always been pro-gay rights and was part of the LGBTQ group when I was in college. Does buying Ender’s Game support him, yes of course, however it is too good not to read. The character’s are strong, intelligent, and very very young. Part of you feel like they’re being corrupt (to an extent they are because they aren’t always given all of the information) but at the same time they’re making their own choices. Are they always right? Maybe, maybe not. Ender’s decisions could easily be debated either way. I have my personal thought’s on them but can’t share them without giving away the end of the book. I’ve read all of the Ender and Bean series but Ender’s Game is probably the best of them, and can also be read as a standalone book. However, skip the movie. Not because it supports Card (though that is a plus) but because in general it is awful and completely distorts plot lines in the book.
So there you have it. Those are the top 5 banned books that have made some sort of impact on me. What banned books do you love?
– ❤ S.