Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Hello, Old Friends: Banned Books Week

The Color Purple
The Handmaid's Tale
The House of the Spirits
Go Ask Alice
A Wrinkle in Time

I read these books as a teen (and many others like them), not knowing that they had been challenged by parents and administrators in other schools. My parents might have known, since it was on their bookshelf that I found the first four. They were very much aware of what books had been banned. My step-mother even made it a point to buy banned books.

As aware as my parents made me on their own stance when it came to book banning, they never pushed it on my siblings and me. They knew my sister and I loved books (my brother was more of a comic reader, but hey, it's words, right?), and they let us read pretty much any book of their shelves. Some of which I got bored with and didn't finish (Bonfire of the Vanities? Try Yawnfire. Blerg.), but the first four on the list above were books from their shelves that stayed with me, that have shaped the way I think, the way I feel, and even the way I write.

Books aren't banned simply because they are subversive, or because they speak lies about the world. Good books should make you angry, repulse you, frighten you. Most importantly, they should make you feel empathy for others. Your reaction to the content, as you read it in context, of course, says more about you than it does about the author.

I added A Wrinkle in Time to the list because it had an even greater effect on my desire to write fantasy novels, which started out as a hobby when I was fifteen. And because it's one of those O_o ? bans I just don't understand.

Anyway, I didn't write this post to preach, only to say that if it weren't for the above "bad" books, I wouldn't be the person that I am today. A writer. A lover of beautiful words and haunting imagery. A sci-fi nerd. A feminist. A tolerant, curious person who wants to find out as much as she can about the world, particularly through the magic of books.

What are your favorites?

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