We’re in the middle of Banned Books Week and I was thinking back at several of the amazing banned books like The Great Gatsby, Slaughterhouse-Five, and even The Lord of the Rings that would be missed if we couldn’t read them. So, here are some things we would miss out on if we look at a few banned books in a very It’s a Wonderful Life type way.
4. Bertie Botts Every Flavour Beans
The Harry Potter series may be the most banned book in America, according to the American Library Association. Where would we be without our young wizard protagonist and the illustrious Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry? We’d be without Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans. If you haven’t seen this little purple pack of devilishness that might be the best if you have a weak stomach. However, for those adventurous eaters, where else can you be surprised with booger, earthworm, earwax, and dirt flavored jelly beans? I still want to know who verified the taste?
3. “Which way did he go, George? Which way did he go?”
The words above have become synonymous with foolishness, often accompanied with a “Duh”. Of Mice and Men by Steinbeck tells the story of two ranch hands, George and his slow friend Lenny. The novella became a successful stage play and movie, but one of the most pervasive aspects of the book is a phrase uttered by Lenny. Everyone from Tupac to Bugs Bunny has said “Which way did he go, George? Which way did he go?” It has even infiltrated the most sacred of internet icons… Cat memes.
P.S. Of Mice and Men also helped bring us Pinky and the Brain. NARF!
- A Lawyer’s Best Friend
Even though To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee has been banned several times for its themes of race and mild (by today’s standards) swears, Atticus Finch remains an inspiration for many lawyers today. The Alabama State Bar even constructed a monument to Finch and offered Lee a special membership to the State Bar for creating Atticus. That’s a lot of impact for a fictional man. Added bonus: Scout and Jem describe their father as a man who “did not do the things our schoolmates’ fathers did: he never went hunting, he did not play poke or fish or drink or smoke. He sat in the living room and read.” Banned or not, real or not, we love a man who reads.
- Big Brother
The concept of always being watched, having your private moment recorded, all played out in Orwell’s 1984. I know what you’re thinking and you can’t blame all reality TV on Orwell, as tempting as that is. You can however blame the name of the Julie Chen hosted reality television show on the George Orwell book 1984. While the idea of constant surveillance seemed terrifying and implausible in 1984, it’s almost commonplace in 2014. Although with reality TV it’s unknown which fits the Orwellian nightmare more, Big Brother watching us or us watching Big Brother.
It was a pleasure to burn.
I’m pretty sure we would still have irony without Fahrenheit 451 but it seems a crime not to mention the Ray Bradbury classic. A book about banning and burning books that was actually banned and burned. The world is an odd place indeed.