Tales From A Hungry Life

September 24, 2014

Celebrate fREADom

by Maria Schulz

Every year at the end of September, the American Library Association’s Office For Intellectual Freedom celebrates Banned Books Week. Why? To fight censorship and help people realize that it’s important to stand up and protest when other people decide that they want to control what we can and cannot read.

Celebrate Banned books

It always surprises me to see so many of my favorite books on the most-challenged list:

Really? This was banned?

Really? This was banned?

To Kill A Mockingbird

A Light in August

Ethan Frome

Lady Chatterley’s Lover

Sons & Lovers


Main Street

The Catcher in the Rye

In Cold Blood

The Hunger Games

Harry Potter and (all of them)

Always worth reading

Always worth reading


The Glass Castle

Brave New World

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

The Lord of the Rings

The Lord of the Flies

The Hobbit

I know what riled people up about this one. Read it anyway

I know what riled people up about this one. Read it anyway

Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret



I have read a lot of the books on the Frequently Challenged Books List. What would life have been like without them? I know the answer: it would have been much less rich, vivid, and interesting. My interest in reading materials that I’ve been denied began way back in Catholic School. You can read about it here. I’m still shell-shocked from the thumping I took from the good Sister because I had the audacity to read the “wrong” book during Free Reading time. I learned that:

  • Free Reading is not free
  • When people don’t want you to read something, you should RUN AND GET IT
  • Banned books are usually chock full of the good stuff
  • If there is a book, TV Show or movie that someone doesn’t want me to watch, I won’t miss it for the world
  • No one gets to do my thinking for me
  • No one should get to do yours either
Did she read banned books too?

Did she read banned books too?

I was blessed with some of the most wonderful teachers in the world. They always provided me with opportunities to learn and grow—and THINK. What a novel idea.

My third grade teacher, Mrs. G., stayed after school every day for a month to help me improve my reading skills. She gave me biographies to read, and every day, we talked about what I’d read. She gave me books about Eleanor Roosevelt, Harriet Tubman, John F. Kennedy, Frederick Douglass, Abraham Lincoln and Thomas Jefferson.

Let's read. And talk. And eat.

Let’s read. And talk. And eat.

Every afternoon, I’d pull a desk up next to hers and we would munch on a snack while we discussed things like vocabulary, plots, sad things that happened and happy things that happened to each person. We also talked about the things that made all of these people great.

Mrs. G. was patient and always interested in what I had to say about the books. Before those days of sitting there and poring over each book, it never occurred to me that my opinion was as valid as my teacher’s, especially if I read the book closely. Mrs. G, and the books she shared with me, helped me see the world in ways I couldn’t have imagined before I started reading them.

This continued for me when I hit the 9th and 10th grades and my English teacher, Mr. Reines, opened up my little world even more by introducing me to authors like Sinclair Lewis, Willa Cather, John Cheever, D.H. Lawrence, and J.D. Salinger.

Doesn't everyone know Holden Caulfield?

Doesn’t everyone know Holden Caulfield?

The first book we read in-depth was Arrowsmith. It was funny, and sad, and outrageous, and interesting all at the same time. I am still trying to figure out what it was about that book that landed it on the Banned Books List.

Later on, other teachers would introduce me to the works of William Faulkner, Harper Lee, Edith Wharton, Ken Kesey, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Jane Austen, and Tennessee Williams. Every single one of those authors can also be found on the banned books list as well.

Gregory Peck starred in the movie. It has to be good.

Gregory Peck starred in the movie. It has to be good.

I ate all of these books/authors up like it was brain candy. I could never get enough! These days, I don’t have enough hours in the day to read every book I want. If you’re like me, you probably run all day long from one thing to another. So, look at this celebration of fREADom as a good excuse to pick up a great book.


Here Are Ten Good Reasons to Celebrate Banned Books Week

  1. Because you can
  2. It’s all about Freedom, baby
  3. No one puts classic books in the corner
  4. You will probably make someone mad
  5. Open Your Mind and learn something
  6. Understanding the way other people think is a good thing
  7. The brain may not be a muscle, but if you don’t use it, you might lose it
  8. Once you’ve read a great book, no one can take it away from you
  9. It will drive the censors crazy
  10. Book burnings are so yesterday


Brain-Boosting Dinner Recipes

Spicy Tuna Wrap. Yum

Spicy Tuna Wrap. Yum

While you’re reading and learning about new people, places, and things, you should definitely be feeding your brain with good food. Here are 24 recipes that are excellent for just that–including: Black Bean and Salmon Tostadas, Spicy Tuna Wrap, Chicken Cordon Bleu Burger, and more.

So, what’s your favorite banned book? What’s your favorite type of brain food? Do you like reading? Please leave a comment and let us all know. Thanks!




  1. Who in the civilized, Western World banns books these days? When I was a kid the Catholics had what they called the Index (I think) which landed books on it that “they”, the hierarchy, decided that we the rabble wouldn’t understand or we would be led into sin. Around 1900 The Jewish testament, we called it the Old Testament, was taken off the Index. Yes that’s correct we Catholics were forbidden to read The Old Testament because we were too under-educated to have the intelligence to understand it, besides being led into error it was sexy as hell. The Legion of Decency carried censorship into the movies when once a year we were forced to stand at Sunday Mass, raise our right hand and swear we wouldn’t see movies rated X. I crossed my fingers and went to see “The Seven Year Itch” anyway and believe it or not never had to scratch any itch. Ah but I digress. Read on my dear. Good posting.

    Comment by Louis Lagalante — September 24, 2014 @ 9:27 am | Reply

    • People file requests to have books banned all the time. People object to the language, plots, sex, violence, belief systems, etc. it’s interesting to see the year of the complaint and the reasons–it usually gives you an idea about our culture and that time. Thanks for reading and commenting!

      Comment by talesfromahungrylife — September 24, 2014 @ 9:32 am | Reply

  2. I am posting again because the notifications of comments etc. didn’t take effect and this seems the only way I can get it.

    Comment by Bglou — September 24, 2014 @ 9:34 am | Reply

  3. I wonder if “A Clockwork Orange” ever made that list. Do you know if it did?? I’m sure that’s one novel that the censors would love have gotten their hands on!

    Comment by Paul — September 24, 2014 @ 1:14 pm | Reply

  4. TO have gotten their hands on! Sorry!

    Comment by Paul — September 24, 2014 @ 1:16 pm | Reply

  5. Maria, When I was young, Catholic School taught me that reading was not fun. When I left the 8th grade I was reading on a fifth grade level. Then all of a sudden my world opened up in High School and at the end of 9th grade I was reading on a 10th grade level. What happened? The ban was lifted in Public School and I was able to read a wide variety of books (i.e. Ethan Frome), where I had a choice. I found out I wasn’t a poor reader, what I was was bored with the books that were rammed down my throat in elementary school. When you narrow the material you might turn someone off. My opinion in liking Science Fiction books did not go over well with the nuns. In High School I ran across several teachers who interpreted books. Who knew about symbolism? Going to parochial school kind of steered me towards specific topics and put up road blocks to others. You are lucky your third grade teacher was so progressive (also she was not in the nun mindset and times changed since you were in third grade 7 years after me). It still amazes me that there is a banned book list today.

    Comment by Tony Lagalante — October 2, 2014 @ 7:47 pm | Reply

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