September 30 to October 6 – what’s important about these seven days? In the literary world this week is known as Banned Book Week. Contrary to its title, the purpose of this week isn’t to stop reading certain books. Instead, it is a week devoted to reading books that have been banned throughout history. The following is a list of a few of the books that have been banned throughout history and the reasons for why they were banned.


The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling


Yes, the beloved Harry Potter has been banned and continues to create conflict after fifteen years of publication. The reasons behind banning Harry Potter are obvious: witchcraft and promoting homosexuality. I got a good laugh after reading a discussion board on a Baptist website entitled, “12 Reasons Why Harry Potter Should Be Banned” which stated that: “True Christians only touch a Harry Potter book when they are throwing it onto a fire.” Sounds sacrilegious to me.


Favourite Quote: “It takes a great deal of courage to stand up to your enemies, but a great deal more to stand up to your friends.”


Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carrol


Another childhood classic, Alice was banned for sexuality and drug use. Not to mention that there have been rumours about whether or not Carrol wrote the stories because he was in love with the real Alice (a ten-year-old girl). Despite these rumours, the story itself does not contain anything remotely sexual and no drug use is mentioned (unless you count one hookah-smoking caterpillar). In China, Alice was banned for fear that children would think that humans and animals were equal. How dare they?


Favourite Quote: “I can't explain myself, I'm afraid, because I'm not myself, you see.”


Where The Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak


Surprisingly enough, this popular first read for many kids was challenged for showing children in a negative light. The main character, Max, is a mischievous child who throws a tantrum and his mother sends him to bed without dinner. Parents were outraged. A child…having a tantrum? And being punished for bad behaviour? Blasphemy! It was also banned for apparently promoting witchcraft.


Favourite Quote: “And Max, the king of all wild things, was lonely and wanted to be where someone loved him best of all.”



The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald


Believe it or not, The Great Gatsby was banned by a Baptist College in South Carolina for references to sexuality and strong language. And to think, I had to read this in high school! Can I just emphasize that it was a college banning The Great Gatsby – not a high school, not a grade school, but a college.


Favourite Quote: “So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”


So if you’re feeling risky this week, indulge in a banned childhood classic or two. Let the brainwashing begin!


- Sarah O'Connor

during the summer months, most students have homes to return to or jobs to keep them busy until school begins again in september. as an eighteen-year-old jobless first-year student, i had more free time than the average university student. when i wasn’t desperately handing out resumes in the hopes of getting a job, i had time to tackle the forever rising pile of books by my bed. for the most part, they wound up being novels by john green, the american author of young adult fiction. here are some of my favourites of his work:    

Paper Towns by John Green

I made it my goal to read every John Green novel this past summer, but my time ran out. Paper Towns is beautifully written and makes one question how much we really know about a person. The story challenges readers to look deeper beyond the surface, because there really is more to a person than his or her appearance or what is said about them.


Favourite quote: “Maybe all the strings inside him broke.”   


An Abundance of Katherines by John Green 

Yes, another John Green book. This one had a little too much math in it for my taste (there was a lot that I didn’t understand).  But it’s a great book that’s funny and thought-provoking, with fun little footnotes all over the place.


Favourite quote: “Books are the ultimate Dumpees: put them down and they’ll wait for you forever; pay attention to them and they always love you back.”   



Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan 

This story questions coincidence and fate when two boys with the same name meet each other in a lonely part of Chicago. Both live very different lives and end up learning about themselves and each other throughout the novel.


Favourite quote: “It’s hard to believe in coincidence, but it’s even harder to believe in anything else.” 


The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

The final John Green book I read this summer – this one’s about a sixteen year old girl with cancer. I know you must be thinking that this must be another typical cancer book with love, death, and tears. And in many ways you’re right. But there’s also enough humour and honesty to make it uniquely touching.


Favourite quote: “I fell in love the way you fall asleep: slowly, then all at once.” 


Sarah O’Connor 

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