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Banned Books Week: Why I Read Lord of the Flies Every Five Years

I was probably 11 or 12 the first time I read William Golding’s Lord of the Flies, and ever since then I’ve read the book about every five years.  Why do I keep coming back to it?  There’s something I can’t shake in the story—the slow descent from order to chaos, the images it conjures of a society created entirely by boys, and of course the characters: the wise Ralph, the alluring and dangerous Jack, the annoying (but ultimately correct) Piggy.

Banned Books Week: Reading (And Drinking) The Catcher in the Rye

If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you’ll probably want to know is why I think The Catcher in the Rye is so damn important anyway.  Big deal, we all read it in high school.  Except I didn’t.

Well, I did.  But that wasn’t my first time slipping into Holden Caulfield’s shoes.

My dad’s a great guy for a lot of reasons, but a big one is his support of my reading habit.  When I was growing up, he and my mom all but shoveled books in my general direction, and I devoured them like a furnace.  They knew I had a big imagination, so they gave me things in kind: stories about epic battles, or shadowy mysteries, or an average boy enrolled in a very un-average school.

So when my dad dropped a library copy of Catcher into my lap and I asked what it was about, I was surprised when he said, “It’s about a kid who wanders around New York.”

I stared at the cover, with its yellow text and sketchy rendering of a red carousel horse.  Surely, robots or aliens would figure into his explanation any second.  When they didn’t, I said, “And…?”

Five Banned Books that Don't Actually Exist

All over the planet people have tried to prevent others from reading books they consider immoral, unethical or just plain dangerous - and it seems that fictional worlds aren't safe from this either.

So in celebration of Banned Books week and the tireless efforts of librarians, publishers and booksellers to protect your right and freedom to read, here are five books that have been banned, suppressed or challenged in, um, books. (Warning: Spoilers!)

The Grasshopper Lies Heavy (The Man in the High Castle by Philip K Dick): In The Man in the High Castle, the Nazis won WW2 and America has been taken over by the Japanese. In this alternate history there is a book called The Grasshopper Lies Heavy, which is in itself another alternate history in which the Allies won the War. The Nazis have banned the book because they don't win in it, and they don't want people going around getting hope that they don't have to live under Hitler's oppressive rule.

To complicate matters, although the Allies win in Grasshopper, the reality portrayed in that book is vastly different from ours - Hitler lives to be tried at Nuremberg for a start. This means that The Grasshopper Lies Heavy is an alternate history of an alternate history of our reality. Still with me? Ok, next up we have:

Love Always, Charlie: A Banned Books Week Mixtape Inspired by The Perks of Being a Wallflower

Image via Tumblr

In 1999, Stephen Chbosky released his debut novel The Perks of Being a Wallflower. Presented in the epistolary format, the book related the experiences of Charlie, a shy and troubled teen who slowly comes out of his shell with the help of some new friends, the music of The Smiths, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Set in the early 1990s, the book immediately struck a chord with readers young and old with its frank and often funny and heartfelt descriptions of teenage life. Because the book dealt realistically with issues that included homosexuality, casual drug use, and other controversial topics, it immediately became banned in certain school districts. However, the book continues to resonate with readers who have found catharsis through reading Charlie’s letters to an unknown person.

A feature film adaptation written and directed by Chbosky was released in 2012. Starring Logan Lerman as Charlie, Harry Potter co-star Emma Watson as the angelic Sam, and Ezra Miller as the flamboyant Patrick, the movie is the rare adaptation that both respects and enhances the source material. The film was a modest art house hit and is on its way to slowly becoming a cult phenomenon, not unlike Rocky Horror itself. It is certain that in years to come both the book and the film will continue to help readers understand the, well, perks of “feeling infinite.”


via Tumblr

A portion of Perks' enduring appeal is how the book (and film) uses music to reflect the characters personalities. The lost art of mix tape-making plays a crucial role in the story, with Charlie discovering how songs can help people like himself get through hard times and express their feelings in ways they might not be able to articulate.

Some of the timeless tunes featured in the book/film include The Smiths’ “Asleep,” Suzanne Vega’s “Gypsy,” Ride’s “Vapour Trail,” XTC’s “Dear God,” The Samples’ “Could It Be Another Change?” (which contains the line “you can’t love anyone until you love yourself,” a sentiment echoed by Perks’ declaration that “we accept the love we think we deserve”), Cocteau Twins’ “Pearly Dewdrops Drop,” and David Bowie’s anthemic “Heroes,” which in the movie version plays the crucial role of being the “tunnel song” that helps Charlie, Sam, and Patrick realize they are young, alive, and full of possibilities.

There’s no sign of a Perks sequel on the horizon, and this is probably a good thing as the story is perfectly contained. Yet I can’t help but wonder what songs would have been important to Charlie in time since the book/film ended. Thusly here’s a self-indulgent and totally imagined mixtape (or, if you prefer, a Spotify playlist) of some songs that the character might enjoy these days. These songs all make me feel infinite, and perhaps they will do the same for you.

Banned Books And The Fandoms That Love Them

 
When a book gets banned, it means it has reached a level where it has gone beyond just being a book. It means its story or message has become part of the zeitgeist. That scares some people, so they attempt to ban it as a way of stopping its spread, which never actually works. If you happen to look at a list of banned books, you’ll recognize all of them because they are important to us as a society. 
 
When a book reaches this level of popularity, there are going to be different types of fans. A person may casually enjoy reading a book, but after that, they might not think much about it. At the other end of that is fandom and imagine what the people who tried to get a book banned would think if they found out about fandoms! Here are some banned books and the fandoms that love them!

Banned Books Week: Twisting Recipes Into Banned Book Baked Goods

I’m fairly certain, in a completely un-scientific way, that if you asked anyone worth asking what the two best things are in the world (bar oxygen and anything that merits an NC-17) they would agree: books and food. As made obvious by the mere existence of banned book week, one way books have been made increasingly compelling over the years is (ironically) when groups of moral decide to ban them.

So now here’s another to make those banned books even better: pair them with cupcakes, or a tart! Following is a carefully curated list of some truly delicious baked goods with literary aspirations.

The Fahrenheit 451: Red Hot Cinnamon Cupcakes (The Domestic Rebel): Maybe not quite hot enough to burn books, but certainly spicier than the typical frosted dessert.

The Great Gatsby: Pink Champagne Cupcakes (Cupcakes by Tattooed MarthaSabayon by A Food Centric Life): Because if Gatsby and Daisy didn’t teach us about the perils of overindulgence, they certainly showed how fun it can be while it lasts. Plus, you know, champagne is delicious. To get the most out of the flavors, I swapped out the champagne frosting included in the cupcake recipe for a champagne sabayon as a slightly less pink topper.

The Huckleberry Fiin: Huckleberry Cupcakes (Martha Stewart): Huckleberries are a surprisingly underutilized fruit, but with a book like this classic there really isn’t a choice.

The Things Fall Apart: Coffee Cake Crumble Muffins (Table for Two): Fall apart. Crumble. It’s a dreadful pun, sorry. I embellished on these a bit by topping them with a simple fruit sauce (recipe below), using fruits native to Nigeria. The tang also balances out the sweetness of the crumble.

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