Take It To The Limit by
(297 Stories)

Prompted By Banned Books

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Living my entire life in New Jersey, Massachusetts, California,
all very liberal states,
I have not ever personally encountered a book ban.

Maus is the most recent book to make headlines for being banned.
It’s a graphic novel about the Holocaust,
and while graphic novels are not my favorite,
I feel compelled to read it now
because there has been such a big effort to ban it.

I'm not sure I've ever encountered any banned books, but if I had, I would have made a point of reading them.

A list I found online names 46 books that have been banned somewhere,
and I have read almost all,
except Brideshead Revisited, The Satanic Verses, and Ulysses.
Guess it’s time to read those too.*

*Well, maybe not Ulysses. (Sorry, Dana.)


RetroFlash / 100 words, not counting footnote

Profile photo of Suzy Suzy

Characterizations: funny, right on!, well written


  1. John Shutkin says:

    Great RetroFlash, Suzy. As well as a great song title title (as usual*) and featured image.

    As to banned books you should read, I have seen but not read “Brideshead Revisited” and enjoyed other books that Waugh has written. He could be a very witty, incisive writer. But I wonder what got that book banned. Perhaps it was the casual racism, anti-semitism and other prejudices that Waugh himself was guilty of — along with many upper class Brits of his time. And very different from most of the other banned authors, whose “sin” was usually exposing those prejudices.

    *This will no doubt be my earworm this week.

    • Suzy says:

      John, I had to look up why Brideshead was banned. It wasn’t for any of the reasons you suggest, it was because it had homosexual characters in it. The Alabama legislature wanted to prohibit “library materials that recognize or promote homosexuality as an acceptable lifestyle.”

  2. Khati Hendry says:

    Indeed, it seems that the list of banned books makes for an excellent reading list. I am not aware that books were banned in my school libraries either, but how did I know what was missing and why? Perhaps worse than libraries banning books is prohibiting the teaching of certain books. Knowledge and information in all forms is always under attack by oppressive groups, and banning books is an ominous sign.

    • Suzy says:

      You’re right about not knowing what was missing and why. Nowadays the internet has tons of info about why some group thinks some book is objectionable, but when we were young, how would we have known?

  3. Laurie Levy says:

    I love your featured image, Suzy. Like you, I’m feeling like I should read books on the banned list I may have missed and reread others I was too young to fully appreciate.

  4. Before you get too confident that your “home states” have all been the kind that didn’t ban books, I’d like to remind you that during our days in college, people were arrested for selling the newspaper, The AVATAR. Does that ring a bell at all? And famously, one of the first great Frederick Wiseman documentaries, TITTICUT FOLLIES, filmed at the Bridgewater institution for the “criminally insane,” was banned for several decades within the commonwealth of Mass, by court order, supposedly for the protection of the privacy of the residents, but clearly more for the protection of the reputations of the state officials in charge. There is an expression, “Banned in Boston” for a reason. (I have no similar complaints about NJ or CA!)

    • Suzy says:

      You know, the phrase “banned in Boston” popped into my head as I was writing this, but I didn’t pursue it. And as a college student in Massachusetts, I wouldn’t have been prevented from reading any books because they were banned. I don’t remember The Avatar, which isn’t surprising because Wikipedia says it ceased publication in April 1968, and I didn’t arrive there until September 1968. So those arrests happened during your days in college, but not mine.

  5. Marian says:

    Great and pithy recap, Suzy. Brideshead Revisited is worth a read. There is also adultery along with the homosexuality. I am intrigued by why A Wrinkle in Time would be banned and need to look that up. I was going to recommend it to the Ukrainian gal I began tutoring to help her improve her English because she likes science fiction.

    • Suzy says:

      From what I can see, A Wrinkle in Time had been banned in various places because it’s too Christian, or not Christian enough, or it promotes witchcraft and demons. Take your pick.

  6. Ah Suzy, hope you reconsider and give Ulysses a try, it’s really quite wonderful!
    Love your RetroFlash!

  7. Great choice, to retroflash this voluminous topic, Suzy! And, if you’ve read all the books on the banned list, doesn’t that say something about banning books? Reading Ulysses does offer a remarkable experience, for me, a little like reading War and Peace. I ‘learned’ a great deal from War and Peace. Finishing Ulysses just left me feeling I had come down from an acid trip, an experience I did not repeat often. I’m going to look up this list of 46 banned books. These days it probably needs to be updated too frequently. The Kite Runner? Really?

  8. Betsy Pfau says:

    Quite the list there, Suzy. I guess people with certain “moral” values (note the quotes) will always find certain aspects of books objectionable. These people of such “high” virtues (you know, like the leadership of the Southern Baptist Conference, or those in the Roman Catholic hierarchy who protected pedophile priests while declaring that women can’t control their own bodies or that books depicting certain information about gender should be banned) are such hypocrites. These days, I hope it makes students really want to read those books! Just like us.

  9. Dave Ventre says:

    I began this prompt’s research by looking up lists of banned books. It might be simpler if someone compiled a list of the ones that no one has tried to ban.

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