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Literally Speaking: Banned Books Week

Last week, an author I've recently come to love, Rainbow Rowell, relayed some devastating and shocking news on Twitter. She had an appearance planned at a Minnesota school, where she was invited to speak by a group of librarians who loved her work. After a couple of parents demanded Rowell's books were removed from the shelves, The Anoka-Hennepin school district, the library board, and the county decided to cancel the author's event. The book? Rainbow Rowell's "Eleanor and Park." Why was it banned? Why are any books banned? Books have been banned for many reasons. These reasons could be profanity and swearing, or topics deemed inappropriate, like sexual themes and drugs. Others, for violence and alcohol. Some books are simply deemed "unsuited" for a certain age group. There is no specific criteria that categorizes a book as "banned." It's a relative decision made by a library, school, board, or any other institution. In fact, more than half of the books on my summer reading list blog post were banned for various reasons. Even "Captain Underpants" was banned in some places!

In an interview with The Toast, Rowell cites that the objections by the parents and boards mainly came from the profanity in the book. According to the alert that was sent out by the district's parents league, the book used the "f word" 227 times.

I read this book at least three times since buying it this past summer. While I come from a household where we are taught that cursing is a form of disrespect and therefore reprimanded, I'm not at all unfamiliar with swear words. I will admit that they've come out of my mouth from time to time and, being on a college campus, you're bound to hear it everywhere.

While I understand the ultimate goal of those parents and administrators banning books, I also think it can potentially be counterintuitive. I think the rebellious teenager in all of us likes to find out about those things we aren't supposed to be exposed to. We're tempted to sneak out the window in the middle of the night, watch a rated R movie at fifteen-and-a-half. Things like that.

So, welcome to Banned Books Week everyone. When I'm not doing homework, I'll probably be re-reading "Looking for Alaska" or "Eleanor and Park"... because I can. What's your favorite banned book?

Let me know at or on Twitter @marie_eo!


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