Most Challenged Books: 2012

Motivation & Inspiration

The ALA recently released the results of their study on the most challenged books of 2012 and I think it’s safe to conclude that there are a lot of Americans out there who need to get a life. I think about the energy it takes to not only submit a challenge form but also to harbor enough disgust for something to actually be spurred to action.

They’re books, people, not land mines. I just don’t get it. You can’t censor art. You just can’t. And trying to is not only a detriment to the individual, it’s a detriment to the global community. Censorship kills culture. And while it is most certainly every person’s right to censor their own reading and that of their children, it is most certainly not that person’s right to try and ruin it for the rest of us.

For this very reason I have no idea why libraries would even provide patrons with the option of requesting that books be banned. If something offends you, you don’t have to read it. But why go through the trouble of trying to keep others from reading it as well? It’s pretentious. It’s disgusting. And it hinders one of the most revelatory side effects of reading—asking questions.

Is that what people are afraid of? That if we read something thought-provoking enough that we’ll start to ask questions. Questions that lead to other questions. Questions that lead to answers. Answers that lead to change. Change. So that’s what all you self-righteous readers are quaking in your boots about.

Fine. You’re right. Change is scary. But guess what? It’s also necessary. So the next time you come across something offensive close the book, set it aside, and realize that just because you weren’t ready to face the questions being asked in those pages splayed across your lap, doesn’t mean someone else won’t read those same pages and yearn for the very answers you didn’t think worth finding.

And if you’re feeling particularly brave, here’s the official list of the top ten most challenged books of 2012:

1.       Captain Underpants (series), by Dav Pilkey.
Reasons: Offensive language, unsuited for age group

2.       The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie.
Reasons: Offensive language, racism, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group

3.       Thirteen Reasons Why, by Jay Asher.
Reasons: Drugs/alcohol/smoking, sexually explicit, suicide, unsuited for age group

4.       Fifty Shades of Grey, by E. L. James.
Reasons: Offensive language, sexually explicit

5.       And Tango Makes Three, by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson.
Reasons: Homosexuality, unsuited for age group

6.       The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini.
Reasons: Homosexuality, offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit

7.       Looking for Alaska, by John Green.
Reasons: Offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group

8.       Scary Stories (series), by Alvin Schwartz
Reasons: Unsuited for age group, violence

9.       The Glass Castle, by Jeanette Walls
Reasons: Offensive language, sexually explicit

10.    Beloved, by Toni Morrison
Reasons: Sexually explicit, religious viewpoint, violence