It is the American Library Association’s Banned Book Week, highlighting their continued fight against censorship. There are some familiar titles in the list and some new ones that surprised me. It would be interesting to see what books gather the most complaints in New Zealand libraries.
The Twilight books are among the books that have received most calls to be banned from from US libraries
Queen of teen vampire romance Stephenie Meyer has topped every bestseller chart going but she has now made it onto a less coveted chart, after her Twilight books joined the ranks of those most frequently requested to be banned from US libraries.
Meyer’s novels, about the romance between a human teenage girl and a vampire, came fifth on the American Library Association’s list of books which people tried hardest to ban in the last year. This is the first time the Mormon author’s novels have appeared in the line-up – JK Rowling and Philip Pullman are both veterans of the list – with complaints about both their level of sexual explicitness and their “religious viewpoint”.
“It is the books which are read frequently which are frequently challenged – with all the hype around Twilight and the movies and the celebrities I was actually surprised Meyer’s books weren’t higher,” said Angela Maycock at the ALA’s office for intellectual freedom. Vampire books in general accumulated a host of complaints last year, Maycock said, with “the idea of vampires and other supernatural entities in opposition to certain religious viewpoints”. JK Rowling doesn’t make it into this year’s list but her Harry Potter books were the most challenged of the last decade, the ALA said today, with complaints over their “satanism” and “anti-family themes”.
The most challenged books of 2009 were Lauren Myracle’s young adult series of books TTYL, written entirely in the style of instant messaging. A host of objections were made to Myracle’s books – over their language, coverage of drugs and sexual explicitness. “These books deal realistically with young adult lives – the ickyness, the weirdness of adolescence and the difficult situations lots of teens face,” said Maycock. “Twilight of course deals with adolescence too, but is very much about the supernatural. It’s interesting that both realism and fantasy are causing high levels of concern.”
The top 10 titles most challenged titles of 2009 were:
1. TTYL; TTFN; L8R, G8R (series) by Lauren Myracle, reasons: Nudity, Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group, Drugs
2. And Tango Makes Three by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson, reasons: Homosexuality
3. The Perks of Being A Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky, reasons: Homosexuality, Sexually Explicit, Anti-Family, Offensive Language, Religious Viewpoint, Unsuited to Age Group, Drugs, Suicide
4. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, reasons: Racism, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group
5. Twilight (series) by Stephenie Meyer, reasons: Sexually Explicit, Religious Viewpoint, Unsuited to Age Group
6. The Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger, reasons: Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group
7. My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult, reasons: Sexism, Homosexuality, Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Religious Viewpoint, Unsuited to Age Group, Drugs, Suicide, Violence
8. The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big, Round Things, by Carolyn Mackler, reasons: Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group
9. The Color Purple by Alice Walker, reasons: Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group
10. The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier, reasons: Nudity, Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group