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banned book week–a week late

 

Does it surprise anyone that I am a week late on banned book week? I didn’t think so. I saw on facebook that my editor was celebrating banned book week. I really like that about him. Kirk is one heckuva awesome guy. And I hear through the grape vine that he has no aversion to semicolons! This makes me so happy, I could weep. I can’t wait to sink my teeth into galleys!

But back to banned books. I find myself baffled by what I found on the list. A Wrinkle in Time? To Kill a Mockingbird? Are you serious????? What are people thinking? Harper Lee and Madeleine L’Engle remain two of my greatest heros in literature (Just after Miss Austen thank-you-very-much)

There was a book or two on here that I’d read in my young teen life that I remember walking away from feeling uncomfortable. And on those books took a vow to never read another book by those authors again. I didn’t need my parents to tell me they weren’t the sort of things I wanted floating around in my grey matter. I didn’t need the “administration” to lay down any laws. I was intelligent enough to choose for myself. There are books on here that I can tell by title alone I wouldn’t want to read them. I may sometimes choose to do a personal ban, but still believe everyone else deserves the right to choose for themselves. Free agency . . . that’s what it’s all about.

One hundred titles are listed here (I’ve read 32), the top 100 books challenged in the decade from 1990-2000 as listed by the Office for Intellectual Freedom.

  1. Scary Stories (Series) by Alvin Schwartz
  2. Daddy’s Roommateby Michael Willhoite
  3. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
  4. The Chocolate Warby Robert Cormier
  5. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
  6. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
  7. Harry Potter (Series) by J.K. Rowling
  8. Foreverby Judy Blume
  9. Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
  10. Alice(Series) by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
  11. Heather Has Two Mommiesby Leslea Newman
  12. My Brother Sam is Dead by James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier
  13. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
  14. The Giverby Lois Lowry
  15. It’s Perfectly Normalby Robie Harris
  16. Goosebumps (Series) by R.L. Stine
  17. A Day No Pigs Would Die by Robert Newton Peck
  18. The Color Purple by Alice Walker
  19. Sex by Madonna
  20. Earth’s Children(Series) by Jean M. Auel
  21. The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Paterson
  22. A Wrinkle in Timeby Madeleine L’Engle
  23. Go Ask Alice by Anonymous
  24. Fallen Angels by Walter Dean Myers
  25. In the Night Kitchenby Maurice Sendak
  26. The Stupids (Series) by Harry Allard
  27. The Witchesby Roald Dahl
  28. The New Joy of Gay Sexby Charles Silverstein
  29. Anastasia Krupnik (Series) by Lois Lowry
  30. The Goats by Brock Cole
  31. Kaffir Boy by Mark Mathabane
  32. Blubber by Judy Blume
  33. Killing Mr. Griffin by Lois Duncan
  34. Halloween ABC by Eve Merriam
  35. We All Fall Downby Robert Cormier
  36. Final Exit by Derek Humphry
  37. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
  38. Julie of the Wolvesby Jean Craighead George
  39. The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
  40. What’s Happening to my Body? Book for Girls: A Growing-Up Guide for Parents & Daughtersby Lynda Madaras
  41. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  42. Beloved by Toni Morrison
  43. The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
  44. The Pigmanby Paul Zindel
  45. Bumps in the Night by Harry Allard
  46. Deenieby Judy Blume
  47. Flowers for Algernonby Daniel Keyes
  48. Annie on my Mind by Nancy Garden
  49. The Boy Who Lost His Faceby Louis Sachar
  50. Cross Your Fingers, Spit in Your Hat by Alvin Schwartz
  51. A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein
  52. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
  53. Sleeping Beauty Trilogy by A.N. Roquelaure (Anne Rice)
  54. Asking About Sex and Growing Up by Joanna Cole
  55. Cujo by Stephen King
  56. James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
  57. The Anarchist Cookbook by William Powell
  58. Boys and Sex by Wardell Pomeroy
  59. Ordinary People by Judith Guest
  60. American Psychoby Bret Easton Ellis
  61. What’s Happening to my Body? Book for Boys: A Growing-Up Guide for Parents & Sons by Lynda Madaras
  62. Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaretby Judy Blume
  63. Crazy Ladyby Jane Conly
  64. Athletic Shorts by Chris Crutcher
  65. Fade by Robert Cormier
  66. Guess What? by Mem Fox
  67. The House of Spirits by Isabel Allende
  68. The Face on the Milk Carton by Caroline Cooney
  69. Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
  70. Lord of the Flies by William Golding
  71. Native Son by Richard Wright
  72. Women on Top: How Real Life Has Changed Women’s Fantasies by Nancy Friday
  73. Curses, Hexes and Spells by Daniel Cohen
  74. Jack by A.M. Homes
  75. Bless Me, Ultimaby Rudolfo A. Anaya
  76. Where Did I Come From?by Peter Mayle
  77. Carrie by Stephen King
  78. Tiger Eyesby Judy Blume
  79. On My Honor by Marion Dane Bauer
  80. Arizona Kid by Ron Koertge
  81. Family Secrets by Norma Klein
  82. Mommy Laid An Egg by Babette Cole
  83. The Dead Zone by Stephen King
  84. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
  85. Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison
  86. Always Running by Luis Rodriguez
  87. Private Parts by Howard Stern
  88. Where’s Waldo? by Martin Hanford
  89. Summer of My German Soldier by Bette Greene
  90. Little Black Samboby Helen Bannerman
  91. Pillars of the Earthby Ken Follett
  92. Running Looseby Chris Crutcher
  93. Sex Education by Jenny Davis
  94. The Drowning of Stephen Jones by Bette Greene
  95. Girls and Sex by Wardell Pomeroy
  96. How to Eat Fried Worms by Thomas Rockwell
  97. View from the Cherry Tree by Willo Davis Roberts
  98. The Headless Cupidby Zilpha Keatley Snyder
  99. The Terroristby Caroline Cooney
  100. Jump Ship to Freedom by James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier

 

Madeleine L’Engle and Me

I bought the book A Circle of Quiet just after my booksigning at the BYU symposium. It was on sale, and I can’t turn down a sale. I love to tell Scott how much money I save him. Besides, I loved reading A Wrinkle in Time when I was in fourth grade and was happy to read more about her.

I have shed many a tear since then. Madeleine and I have quite a bit in common. We’re both neurotic writers. We’re both mothers trying to juggle writing careers while dealing with the tsk tsks from other mothers who have it all together when we don’t. We both own grocery stores in small communities. We both married men who loved acting. We’ve been dealt the stinging blow of rejection and have come back screaming, “Is that all you got?”

Okay so maybe neither of us came back screaming for more, but we did come back . . . isn’t that the important thing?

I  hate how I’ve discovered how much I love this woman only after it was too late to ever meet her. Madeleine died last September. I would love to give her a hug and say, “Thanks for understanding my very weird life.”

Something that struck me as utterly profound was this statement she made after a rejection she received on her fortieth birthday. This was after her years in the thirties, which were filled with endless manuscript rejections and incredible guilt for taking time to write books when she worried she might be better occupied to learn to make cherry pie and do as other–more proper–mothers do. She decided to, “Stop this foolishness and learn to make cherry pie.”

She covered her typewriter in what she refers to as a great gesture of renunciation and walked around and around her room bawling, totally, utterly miserable.

While pacing and bawling, she stopped, realizing her subconscious mind had already begun working out a novel about failure.

She uncovered her typewriter.

This was her moment of decision. This was her moment where she realized she WAS a writer, no matter what, even if she never had another book published.

A quote from her on this matter is, “I’m glad I made this decision in the moment of failure. It’s easy to say you’re a writer when things are going well.”

I mourn the fact I never got to hug her.

There have been several rocky years where I was faced with the very real possibility that I would never see my name on a future publication. There was a time when I covered my computer, and said, “Stop this foolishness and learn to make pie.” Okay, maybe I never said I’d learn to make pie, but there are so many ways I fall short of other women because I have split my life into other things. I would stop the foolishness of writing, and be like other moms.

I uncovered my computer.

I, too, am glad to have made this decision in my moments of failure.  And now with another book coming out,  quite possibly two, I wonder that I even considered it.  There is no such thing as second child infertility with novel writing. If you can write one . . . you can write two, and more. If you can make the choice to keep writing amidst rejection and failure, then you’ve proved something important–to you and to the world, but most importantly to you.

You proved you really are a writer.