This week, the American Library Association announced its annual list of “challenged books.” The report is meant to offer insight on the literature that might inspire an otherwise perfectly adjusted youth to forget to tie his shoes, or eat an unhealthy lunch, or . . . set an entire school on fire. Something like that!
The ALA ranks the books on each year’s list by the number of “formal, written complaint[s] filed with a library or school requesting that a book or other material be restricted or removed because of its content or appropriateness.” Truly, the worst thing a book can do is inspire a person to write something else. So without further ado, the 2012 list, with our commentary.
- Captain Underpants, (series) by Dav Pilkey
- The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie
- Thirteen Reasons Why, by Jay Asher
- Fifty Shades of Grey, by E.L. James
- And Tango Makes Three, by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson
- The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini
- Looking for Alaska, by John Green
- Scary Stories (series), by Alvin Schwartz
- The Glass Castle, by Jeanette Walls
- Beloved, by Toni Morrison
Some brief theories we’d like to put forth:
- Captain Underpants beat out Fifty Shades of Grey on the list mainly because of cover art. Dav Pilkey’s book features a half-naked, potentially threatening man, while E.L. James’s book displays a perfectly-acceptable loosened tie.
- Though the sexually explicit content of Fifty Shades of Grey may be less desirable than the toilet humor of Captain Underpants, E.L. James’s complicated prose requires readers to read closely . . . one or two times, even . . . before one is able to draft a letter of complaint.
- Books that have won critical acclaim, and proudly display that acclaim in the form of a shiny circle on their covers, are instantly more offensive. They need to stop bragging so much.
- Stories about same-sex penguin co-parenting will likely lead a child to participate in a cough-syrup-fueled stuffed-animal orgy.
What do you think of the list? Add your theories in the comments section.