Thursday, March 1, 2012

Top 100 "challenged" books of 2000-2009 and why I've never done cocaine

The American Library Association publishes a list of the most banned/challenged books by decade.  (Side note: referring to a banned book as "challenged" is a bit like the Irish habit of referring to forty years of sectarian violence as "the Troubles," and World War II as "the emergency.")

I stumbled across the list during one of those Internet tangents that happen to the best of us.

Mary: I remember Go Ask Alice
Mary: Not a lot about the plot, but definitely remember that it was kind of "controversial" book and so we were all into it
me: there's a song by Jefferson Airplane called White Rabbit that came out in 1969
Mary: right
me: I was reading the lyrics, I think it's definitely where the title came from

Right.  So as long as I'm being all Captain Obvious-

-I'd like to point out that the only reason I read Go Ask Alice in the 7th grade was because it was banned, and that was reason enough for me.  In case you haven't read it, Go Ask Alice is the "diary" of a young girl who slowly becomes involved with drugs and eventually (spoiler alert) dies.  At one time, it was required reading in our public school.  It was banned, presumably because there is drug use, sex and rape.  Parents complained.    And I get wanting to protect your kids, but 1) I do not support banning books for any reason and 2) by the time we were in 7th grade, one of the hot topics was about how Eddie cheated on Meg with Nina and they went to third base, so unfortunately kids at that age are a little more aware than we'd like them to be, so throwing something like Go Ask Alice at them isn't exactly going to get the same reaction as when they found out about Santa Claus.  Granted, we were still using bases to talk about sexual acts, but hey, who doesn't?  

Anyway, Go Ask Alice is obviously much more of a warning against drugs than an advertisement, probably because, like another popular young adult book of our times, it was written by a Mormon With a Social Agenda.

Not that one.

There it is.  Stephanie Meyer, author of Twilight.  With Seth Green?

Which brings me to another ridiculous Young Adult series, Sweet Valley High.

I started reading SVH when I was something like 11 years old, and it featured all sorts of amazing story lines.  I mean, check out the mustache on this guy.  LOOK AT THE MUSTACHE:

The twins were kidnapped, solving murders and almost-raped at least 50 times through the series.  There was even an evil twin (triplet??) who shows up and tries to take over their lives.  (And yet, SVH has never made that banned books list.)  Anyway, in one of the books, deaf beauty Regina Marrow tries cocaine just once and dies due to an undetected heart murmur.  Dies on a couch, asking for stupid Elizabeth Wakefield who has eyes the color of the Pacific Ocean and all-American good looks.  Also, I think she had just become not-deaf like, the book before.

Yes.  Because she dies.

This book scared the crap out of me and hence I became the coke-free blogger I am today.  Thanks, Francine Pascal and your army of ghost writers.

So without further ado, I present the ALA's Most Challenged Books list of 2000-2009.  Use it as a check list.  (Particularly #34 and #35.)  I put a star next to the ones I've read so that you can compare, and also because I'm a show-off.

1. Harry Potter (series), by J.K. Rowling*
2. Alice series, by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor*
3. The Chocolate War, by Robert Cormier
4. And Tango Makes Three, by Justin Richardson/Peter Parnell
5. Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck*
6. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, by Maya Angelou**
7. Scary Stories (series), by Alvin Schwartz
8. His Dark Materials (series), by Philip Pullman*
9. ttyl; ttfn; l8r g8r (series), by Myracle, Lauren
10. The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky
11. Fallen Angels, by Walter Dean Myers
12. It’s Perfectly Normal, by Robie Harris
13. Captain Underpants (series), by Dav Pilkey
14. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain*
15. The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison*
16. Forever, by Judy Blume*
17. The Color Purple, by Alice Walker*
18. Go Ask Alice, by Anonymous*
19. Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger*
20. King and King, by Linda de Haan
21. To Kill A Mockingbird, by Harper Lee*
22. Gossip Girl (series), by Cecily von Ziegesar
23. The Giver, by Lois Lowry*
24. In the Night Kitchen, by Maurice Sendak
25. Killing Mr. Griffen, by Lois Duncan*
26. Beloved, by Toni Morrison*
27. My Brother Sam Is Dead, by James Lincoln Collier*
28. Bridge To Terabithia, by Katherine Paterson*
29. The Face on the Milk Carton, by Caroline B. Cooney*
30. We All Fall Down, by Robert Cormier
31. What My Mother Doesn’t Know, by Sonya Sones
32. Bless Me, Ultima, by Rudolfo Anaya
33. Snow Falling on Cedars, by David Guterson*
34. The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big, Round Things, by Carolyn Mackler
35. Angus, Thongs, and Full Frontal Snogging, by Louise Rennison
36. Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley*
37. It’s So Amazing, by Robie Harris
38. Arming America, by Michael Bellasiles
39. Kaffir Boy, by Mark Mathabane
40. Life is Funny, by E.R. Frank
41. Whale Talk, by Chris Crutcher
42. The Fighting Ground, by Avi
43. Blubber, by Judy Blume*
44. Athletic Shorts, by Chris Crutcher
45. Crazy Lady, by Jane Leslie Conly
46. Slaughterhouse-Five, by Kurt Vonnegut*
47. The Adventures of Super Diaper Baby, by George Beard
48. Rainbow Boys, by Alex Sanchez
49. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, by Ken Kesey
50. The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini*
51. Daughters of Eve, by Lois Duncan*
52. The Great Gilly Hopkins, by Katherine Paterson
53. You Hear Me?, by Betsy Franco
54. The Facts Speak for Themselves, by Brock Cole
55. Summer of My German Soldier, by Bette Green*
56. When Dad Killed Mom, by Julius Lester
57. Blood and Chocolate, by Annette Curtis Klause
58. Fat Kid Rules the World, by K.L. Going
59. Olive’s Ocean, by Kevin Henkes
60. Speak, by Laurie Halse Anderson
61. Draw Me A Star, by Eric Carle
62. The Stupids (series), by Harry Allard
63. The Terrorist, by Caroline B. Cooney*
64. Mick Harte Was Here, by Barbara Park
65. The Things They Carried, by Tim O’Brien*
66. Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, by Mildred Taylor*
67. A Time to Kill, by John Grisham*
68. Always Running, by Luis Rodriguez
69. Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury*
70. Harris and Me, by Gary Paulsen
71. Junie B. Jones (series), by Barbara Park
72. Song of Solomon, by Toni Morrison*
73. What’s Happening to My Body Book, by Lynda Madaras
74. The Lovely Bones, by Alice Sebold*
75. Anastasia (series), by Lois Lowry*
76. A Prayer for Owen Meany, by John Irving
77. Crazy: A Novel, by Benjamin Lebert
78. The Joy of Gay Sex, by Dr. Charles Silverstein
79. The Upstairs Room, by Johanna Reiss
80. A Day No Pigs Would Die, by Robert Newton Peck*
81. Black Boy, by Richard Wright*
82. Deal With It!, by Esther Drill
83. Detour for Emmy, by Marilyn Reynolds
84. So Far From the Bamboo Grove, by Yoko Watkins
85. Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes, by Chris Crutcher
86. Cut, by Patricia McCormick
87. Tiger Eyes, by Judy Blume*
88. The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood*
89. Friday Night Lights, by H.G. Bissenger
90. A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeline L’Engle*
91. Julie of the Wolves, by Jean Craighead George*
92. The Boy Who Lost His Face, by Louis Sachar
93. Bumps in the Night, by Harry Allard
94. Goosebumps (series), by R.L. Stine*
95. Shade’s Children, by Garth Nix
96. Grendel, by John Gardner*
97. The House of the Spirits, by Isabel Allende
98. I Saw Esau, by Iona Opte
99. Are You There, God?  It’s Me, Margaret, by Judy Blume*
100. America: A Novel, by E.R. Frank


Mary: You haven't read, "What happening to my body book"?? Unacceptable.
me: hahahha no, i know, it explains so much right
Mary: I suggest you read everything on this list.


  1. You should start with Angus, Thongs, and Full Frontal Snogging, because those books are awesome.

    1. You know how I feel about English people, Jackie.

  2. That you never read One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest makes me question my credibility in expressing my (completely) rational fear of the early 20th century health profession. I mean, Nurse Ratchet is like the biggest metaphor for an authority figure who abuses her power, mainly because (spoiler alert) it happens. Also, I don't know what metaphor means.

    On a side note, I think Of Mice and Men was good.