Tag Archives: banned books

Movie vs. Book: The Perks of Being a Wallflower

Contributed by Sam Holle

If you were in high school in the early 2000’s, odds are you read or at least heard of The Perks of Being a Wallflower. It was a topic of discussion among parents, students, and educators, making banned book lists due to its frequent references to sex, drugs, and illicit behavior.  Beyond the controversy, it was a story about growing up, finding yourself, and learning to participate in the world.

The book spoke to me. Charlie is a high school kid who doesn’t fit in with the popular kids, but finds comfort in his new friends, Patrick and Sam.  He’s like me!  I thought.  I’m socially awkward sometimes!  Oh look, the object of Charlie’s affection is named Sam!  My name’s Sam! I want a sweet boy like Charlie to fall in love with me the way he’s in love with Sam!  I think this book was written just for me!

So it was no surprise that my inner high schooler squealed with glee the first time I heard it was being made into a movie. That inner high schooler kept squealing as I searched for a seat in the crowded theater. My inner high schooler was not disappointed at all.

The movie was written, produced, and directed by Stephen Chbosky, the author of the book. There were small plot points from the book that didn’t make it to the screen, but it didn’t matter.  The movie is every bit an emotional roller coaster as the book.  When Charlie’s heart breaks, your heart breaks.  When Patrick is hilarious, you find yourself laughing as if with an old friend.

In the beginning of the movie, Charlie dreadfully counts down the days until the end of high school at the start of his freshman year; at the end of the year, he announces how many days are left without an ounce of that fear that was there before.  You know Charlie’s journey is not going to be difficult anymore.  You have watched him face his demons, confront his bullies, and stand up for the people he loves.  You know that everything is going to be fine for him.

The actors were cast wonderfully; I couldn’t imagine anyone else portraying the trio of nonconformist friends and putting on such a beautiful performance.

MVP: The obvious MVP is Charlie, a hero who learns the importance of friendship and to not let his past control his future. My less obvious choice is Charlie’s English teacher — “Bill” in the book, “Mr. Anderson” in the movie. Paul Rudd does a spectacular job as someone who sees Charlie as a wallflower and helps him bloom into a participant in life. Mr. Anderson tells Charlie that he can see Charlie writing a classic some day, one that will be read by high schoolers and will stand the test of time.  Chbosky, winking at the audience, knows that he and Charlie have already done this.


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‘Fifty Shades’ vs. Library Battle Continues

Last month, I told you about a library in Florida that decided not to offer the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy. And it’s certainly not the only one. But now according to The New York Times, more and more libraries are changing their policies to start offering the series.

For example, the collections manager for a library in Greensboro, NC has begun offering them because of the demand from readers, despite his opinions on the books. Julie Bosman explains.

But despite misgivings about the subject matter — the books tell the tale of a dominant-submissive affair between a manipulative millionaire and a naïve younger woman — library officials feel that they need to make it available.

“This is the ‘Lady Chatterley’s Lover’ of 2012,” Mr. Cole said. “Demand is a big issue with us, because we want to be able to provide popular best-selling material to our patrons.”

There are still those libraries who are keeping the books out. And that’s causing a First Amendment uproar across the country.

Joan Bertin, the executive director of the National Coalition Against Censorship, said in an interview that it was unusual for a library to remove a book from its section for adults.

“The vast majority of cases that we deal with have to do with removing books to keep kids from seeing them,” she said. “That’s what makes this so egregious. There are some possible arguments for trying to keep kids away from certain kinds of content, but in the case of adults, other than the restrictions on obscenity and child pornography, there’s simply no excuse. This is really very much against the norms in the profession.”

So which side are you on? Make it available or not?


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Libraries Removing Fifty Shades of Grey from Shelves

Libraries and bookstores across the country are having a tough time keep E.L. James’ Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy on the shelves. More and more women –and now men– are flocking to pick up the erotica bestseller that’s taking the nation by storm. But some library shelves are missing the books by choice.

Because of the explicitly sexy content of the books, a number of libraries have removed the books from stock. According to The New York Times, the public library in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin didn’t order the books because of a “no-erotica” police. Meanwhile, officials at the Brevard County Public Library in east Florida decided the content was inappropriate and pulled the books, as Julie Bosman explains.

“We view this as pornographic material,” Don Walker, a spokesman for the Brevard County government, said in an interview on Friday. “I have not read ‘Fifty Shades of Grey,’ but I’ve read reviews of ‘Fifty Shades of Grey.’ From what I understand, it’s a lot about male dominance and female submissiveness.”

He’s right about the storyline. The books tell the story of a virginal college student who enters into a dominant-submissive relationship with an attractive millionaire businessman. The Brevard County Public Library carries other erotica novels, but Walker says it’s because they’re part of the “societal mainstream.”

I have a few bones to pick with Mr. Walker. First of all, despite his awareness of the story’s content, it’s not the same as reading the book. What right does he have to pull the books because of their unsuitable content when he hasn’t even read the content himself? I also wonder what constitutes a book becoming part of the “societal mainstream.” With the widespread popularity of the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy, I think it’s safe to say the books are now part of the “societal mainstream,” no?

What do you guys think?

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No More Kadhafi, No More Book Bans in Libya

Now that Moammar Kadafi is dead, the books that he and his regime banned in Libya are once again available to the public. Like many dictators who came before him, Kadafi made sure that Libyan natives would not be able to get their hands on a number of books and documents while he was in power. For more than 40 years, the Libyan people could not read books like The Secret Life of Saddam Hussein, Sex in the Arab World, and The CIA Files of Arab Rulers.

But according to this article by the L.A. Times, censorship in Libya is now a thing of the past. Last week, a ceremony was held at the Royal Palace in Tripoli, where the unbanning was celebrated. The Toronto Star reported on the ceremony.

“This place was used to distort culture. It was used to terrorize. And so this is the proper place to say Libya now is ready to embrace knowledge and thought without limits.”

Among the attendees was journalist and human rights activist Hassan al-Amin, one of the Gadhafi regime’s sharpest critics during his years of exile in London, who shared a bittersweet swirl of emotions as the books were revealed.

“This is a major moment for us because this is where we reclaim our intellectual freedom. We say goodbye to an era where free thinking was forbidden, where ideas were dangerous,” Amin told the Star.

It’s sad to think that censorship still happens around the world. But I’m glad to know that as this dictators are overthrown in the Egyptian and Arab region, freedom is being returned to its inhabitants.

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Read Whatever You Want, It’s Banned Books Week

It’s the last week of September and you know what that means! It’s Banned Books Week! Oh, you didn’t know?

Well, each year during the last week of September, libraries nationwide sponsor events to honor books that have been banned and to teach the importance of freedom of speech.

While many classic books that have been banned — like Catcher in the Rye and Grapes of Wrath — there have also been a number of recent books that have been banned, including the supernatural tween hits from Twilight and Harry Potter.

Here’s some more information, if you’d like to find out what Banned Books Week events are happening at a library near you.

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