Happy Banned Books Week!
I love Banned Books Week for so many reasons. I don't believe in the institutionalized censorship of diverse voices and ideas, I don't believe there should be any censorship but self-censorship, and I don't think it's such a terrible idea to expose yourself to multiple arguments and perspectives about any subject.
So in honor of Banned Books Week, I'm going to be sharing my favorite banned books--one banned book a day with an anecdote about why I love that book. Enjoy!
I was most surprised to find The Things They Carried on the banned books list. It's a memoir about the author's experience fighting in the Vietnam War. What's to argue about?
While I don't know the specific reasons as to why this book made the banned books list, I can take a few guesses. War is ugly. Bad things happen that test the strength of humanity. Bodies are reduced to pulp, and often soldiers have to live more like animals than humans in order to survive. There were times I cringed reading this book. There were times my stomach lurched into my chest.
Even so, anyone reading a book about war should expect gruesome content. If you want shiny rainbows and puppies bounding out of whicker baskets, there's a place for you called the children's section of the bookstore. And if you don't have any more sense than to read a book about war and expect it to be all sunshine and roses, then you need to take yourself there directly. Do not pass GO and do not collect $200.
And, don't worry, my next point comes with a healthy dose of irony...
Furthermore, every person who requested this book to be banned has the freedom to do so because soldiers like Tim O'Brien fought for our country. Yet they take issue with the harsh conditions and harrowing experiences he suffered while doing it. Irony of ironies, if you ask me. And, believe me, I don't approve of America's war-happy ways either, but I'm not about to request that a memoir about war be banned because I don't like what the author went through. No one deserves to have their experiences invalidated like that.