Banned Books Week: Of Mice and Men and Catcher in the Rye

This post is part of a series for Banned Books Week 2014 and some information may be outdated. Questions? Please reach out to us online or at the Information Desk.

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Katy Saindon, Circulation Services Student Assistant

What is your favorite Banned Book?

Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck.

Why is Banned Books Week important to you?

There are so many great works of literature that have been banned for one reason or another, and its important for us as readers to be aware that we live in a society where freedom of the press is a right not a privilege. Banned Books Week allows us to celebrate these works rather than discourage them for being controversial.

Looking over the American Library Association’s lists of banned and challenged books, which have you found the most surprising and why?

Captain Underpants, those were the funniest books when I was little. Even though it has a lot of explicit potty humor, there isn’t a lot of choice in comedic books directed towards a younger audience. I really enjoyed reading that whole series in elementary school and I have no shame in admitting that. (Editor’s note: check out this opinion piece by author Dav Pilkey: “My Book Makes Kids Laugh, and It Was Banned Anyway.“)

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Shin Eui Park, Archives & Special Collections Student Assistant

What is your favorite Banned Book?

Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger.

Why is Banned Books Week important to you?

Banned Books Week is essentially about the celebration of our freedom to read. Reading expands our world-view and imagination, to limits where we would have never thought we would be able to reach. Without a number of these books that were previously on the banned books list, I would not be the person I am today. Take Catcher in the Rye, for example. This book helped me so much while growing up. There was a sense of comfort and understanding with this book that I never really felt with anyone else through my “angsty teenage years,” and what I wish for the most is for future generations to experience this as well.

Looking over the American Library Association’s lists of banned and challenged books, which have you found the most surprising and why?

Wait. Romeo and Juliet is a frequently challenged book? The website says, “(Some parents) say it’s too mature for their kids because of the sex.” Excuse me? I can understand why Fifty Shades of Grey is on the list, but Romeo and Juliet? People have been reading Romeo and Juliet for centuries, for goodness sake!