On the Shelf

By Paul Guffin

Banned Books in the Downieville Library

Someone asked me recently what “banned” books we have in the Downieville Library. I had to admit I wasn’t sure; so, I decided to do a bit of research. First of all, where to find a “banned books” list? Since we’re a library, I decided to use the list provided by the Office for Intellectual Freedom of the American Library Association (https://www.oif.ala.org/oif/2020-banned-challenged-books-list/). It provides a list books banned and challenged in 2020 (the most recent year of accumulated data). There are 156 books on that list. Here are the ones we have in our library:

  • The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie
  • The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain
  • A Child Called “It”: One Child’s Courage to Survive, by Dave Pelzer
  • Anne Frank: Diary of a Young Girl, by Anne Frank
  • Between the World and Me, by Ta-Nehisi Coates
  • The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison
  • The Book Thief, by Marcus Zusak
  • The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, by Mark Haddon
  • Educated, by Tara Westover
  • The Fault in Our Stars, by John Green
  • The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas
  • I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, by Maya Angelou
  • The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini
  • Los Viajes de Babar, by Jean de Brunhoff (we don’t actually have this book, but we do have the English version, Babar’s Travels)
  • Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck
  • The Round House, by Louise Erdrich
  • The Thanksgiving Story, by Alice Dalgliesh
  • The Things They Carried, by Tim O’Brien
  • To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
  • The Ugly Duckling, by Lorinda Cauley & Hans Christian Andersen (not sure whether this is the edition we have)

I then decided to check out Powell’s Books in Portland, Oregon, which claims to be the largest independent bookstore in the world. Their listing of banned books for Banned Books Week in 2021 include these additional books, which can be found in our local library:

  • A Farewell to Arms, by Ernest Hemingway
  • The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, by Mark Twain
  • The Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho
  • Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley
  • City of Thieves, by David Benioff
  • Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley
  • The Glass Castle: A Memoir, by Jeannette Walls
  • Go Tell It on the Mountain, by James Baldwin
  • The Grapes of Wrath, by John Steinbeck
  • The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood
  • Heart of Darkness, by Joseph Conrad
  • The House of the Spirits, by Isabel Allende
  • One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, by Ken Kesey
  • Year of Wonders, by Geraldine Brooks

I’m guessing that, in addition to these 35 books, we have others that have been banned at some time, by somebody, somewhere, for some reason. Also, for your future planning, please be advised that Banned Books Week this year is September 18-24. Perhaps we’ll have added more books to our list by then.

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