Monday, September 26, 2011

Five Best Books: This Week - The Banned and the Challenged

Since it's Banned Book Week, the subject matter at Cassandra's 5 Best Books weekly meme at INDIE READER HOUSTON is, appropriately enough: 5 Best Banned or Challenged Books. Check out Cassandra's wonderful post re: banned books and her own 5 Best.


My List of 5 Best Banned Books


My own favorite personal dictionary. I've used it for years. I double-check words in it almost every day. I prefer a book dictionary to the online sort. The book has a handy place of honor at my right near my computer. To my knowledge, no one has ever been harmed by using a dictionary. Unless they've dropped it on a toe.


A book about doing the right thing while under enormous pressure to do otherwise. Also a book about honor, friendship, the rigors of childhood and the importance of truth.

) THE DIARY OF A YOUNG GIRL by Anne Frank - non-fiction

The hopes and fears and day to day thoughts of a young Jewish girl as she hides in an attic with her family, 1942 - 1944. It is Occupied Holland and the Nazis are rounding up all Jews to send to the concentration camps. Hitler's Final Solution and it's tragic personal effect on the life of one girl and her family.

4) LORD OF THE FLIES by William Golding

A plane full of young boys crashes on an isolated island. All the adults are dead. With no one to supervise, the boys run wild and eventually revert to cruel pack behavior. Sort of like boarding school but with killing. In this grim and powerful book, author William Golding does not sugar-coat the more unpleasant aspects of childhood.

5) MAURICE by E.M. Forster

Forster, a homosexual himself, held back this manuscript to be published after his death, knowing the furor it would cause if published in his lifetime. It is the very moving, romantically written love story of two men who cannot reconcile their love and of a third man, a working class man, who can. Some readers did mind the happy, if somewhat ambiguous, ending, but I didn't. I wanted Maurice to be happy.


Where they have burned books, they will eventually burn human beings.

Herinrich Heine.


  1. I haven't read Maurice - perhaps I should put it on my wishlist. I like controversial books, and I don't read many books with GLBT characters.

    I love To Kill a Mockingbird. It's mind-boggling that people try to ban it.

  2. I haven't read Maurcie yet either. Of course, there are a great many of Forster's books that are still on my TBR list.

    Could have added Lord of the Flies and Diary of a Young Girl to mine too.

    There are just so many great books that have been banned for one idiotic reason or another....

  3. Like everyone else, I'm not familiar with Maurice. I've read other Forster books, though, so I at least feel like I'm in the loop.

    I think we both have excellent taste.

    Oh, and I prefer online dictionaries for ease of use. I feel like I have so much more information available to me that way - not because I actually do, but because I don't get tired of turning pages to find it. :)

  4. Katy: Thanks for dropping by. Not many people seem to be familiar with MAURICE and that's a shame. It's a wonderful book. Maurice is a very likable protagonist.

    (In England, Maurice is pronounced, Morris.)

  5. Bev: I think you'd enjoy MAURICE. I loved it and we seem to have similar tastes - more or less.

    'Idiotic reasoning' is right.

  6. Cassandra: Take a chance, you might like MAURICE. It's one of my favorites. And as you say, 'we both have excellent taste', :)

    Oh, I sometimes use the online dictionary thing when I'm in a hurry. But mostly not.

  7. I had no idea that The American Heritage Dictionary was a banned book! Crazy!

    I need to read Maurice. I love E.M. Forster, but I haven't gotten to this one yet.

    Oh, Lord of the Flies. I did not enjoy reading that one at all. I wasn't a popular kid, so I didn't need a reminder that other children are horrible!

  8. Good list of banned books! I loved Forster's A PASSAGE TO INDIA but I'll say MAURICE took me completely by surprise -- hadn't heard of it until now. What's new I ask myself. Next time I ought to pay more attention to the "Also by..." Among other banned books (it was in India) what did you think of THE LAST TEMPTATION OF CHRIST by Nikos Kazantzakis?

  9. Excellent post!

    I have read three of the four novels, and other books by Forster. And I have done my best to explain to my wondering students why "Howard´s End" was outrageous then.

  10. Yvette, I have read and loved all of these books (well, I havent' read the whole dictionary). Thinking about these great pieces of literature being banned in any way makes me sick. It always makes me think of a favorite book and movie, Fahrenheit 451, with the burning of the books. That always just breaks my heart, and was done so perfectly in the movie to just be heartrending.

    As for the dictionary, it is indeed as much of an endangered species as tigers. Language is suffering so much, it makes me think of "1984" and the Newspeak dictionary -- the ultimate idea being to destroy words.

    VERY good and thought-provoking post and list of books.

  11. Lauren: Yes, can you imagine? The 'critics' didn't like some of the words the dictionary defined. Ha!


    MAURICE is worth finding and reading. At least, in my opnion.

  12. Prashant: Yes, MAURICE is not as popular or well known as the rest of E.M. Forster's books.

    But it's wonderful. At least, in my opinion.

    I've never read THE LAST TEMPTATION OF CHRIST. Or maybe I should say, I haven't read it yet.

  13. Thanks, Dorte.

    I've recently bought a nice used hardcover copy of HOWARD'S END and it's sitting here on my TBR pile.

  14. Becky: When I think of the destruction of books as a way of controlling the populace, it makes me shudder. It's all about the fear factor, of course.

    Because you can destroy the books, but you can't destroy ideas.

    Still, it appears to be effective.

  15. Hi, Yvette - I had no idea the American Heritage Dictionary was banned — how ironic! I understand there are still Forster books to be published ...

  16. Banning dictionaries! What is this world coming to? Is someone going to do something dangerous because they look up definitions of words?
    What is this about?

    I'm shocked about Anne Frank's diary, too. Isn't it universally accepted as an important book? Do some people not want people to understand what went on really during WWII?

    I just don't get it. I know textbooks are being rewritten. I know science isn't taught everywhere, in all public schools.

    What can harm people about getting them to learn and think?
    I read everything I could find when I was a teenager and then later when I had time. I had to think when I read. That's part of growing as a child, then as an adult.

  17. Mark: Dictionaries are easy targets because they contain words. :)

    More Forster manuscripts? Really?
    I hadn't heard. Wow.

  18. Kathy: It's all part of the 'dumbing down' wave. You should see the complete list of banned books - it would knock you for a loop. Incredible.

    In the future why should we think?
    Computers will do the thinking for us.

  19. I read at the Banned Books website a list of books; some of my favorites were on that list, actually a lot of my favorites, many of the books that helped to form who I am.

  20. Kathy: Yeah, that list took my breath away. There are tons of books on there I've read and yet, look at me, I'm not in jail, I'm not a spawn of the devil and I'm a pretty decent human being. :)

  21. Yvette, me, too!

    I learned some human understanding from Steinbeck, life lessons from Dreiser, so much from Upton Sinclair, about the horrors of slavery and racism from Toni Morrison, Zora Neale Hurston and Alice Walker.

    I was never told not to read anything by my very well-read parents -- except once. I wanted to read a book of pulp fiction because my 15-year-old friends were reading it. My parents said not to read it.

    I did anyway -- I was 15. And I agreed with them. Because I read good books and they offered good books which caused one to think, I could evaluate that book. I never read anything like that again, but I had to figure it out myself. I had to evaluate it myself.

    One would think that adults could teach and educate children to think and evaluate books.

    But this deliberate "dumbing down" is so true. All these science and history textbooks being rewritten.

    I saw Michael Moore on CNN. He said that he liked a politician because "he believes in Science," was the only one of a bunch.

    Anyway, in addition to people, books taught me so much about human relations, thinking, emotions -- the human condition.

    Also, about people in other cultures and countries, so expansive.

    Those folks you're talking about don't want people to think, not read decent newspapers, just watch Fox and get wound up by emotional tirades with no logic or thought involved.

    Yikes! Time for more reading! I have to stick my head in the sand!

  22. Kathy: I know what you mean.

    Well, thinking is dangerous.

    If you spend any time actually thinking you might get at the truth of things. :)

    I've learned a lot from books as well. IN many cases they've been my teachers.

    My parents were not well-read at all, but my brother and I shifted course and became readers.

    Go figure.


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