Banned Books Week 2022: 18-24 September

This week (18 – 24 September) is banned books week, in which we highlight the books that have been most challenged and banned, both in the previous year and earlier.  We also celebrate the freedom to read, which is not universal across the globe.  Fortunately for us in Aotearoa New Zealand, we’re able to make our own choices on what to read.  That doesn’t mean there are no books that have been challenged or banned here, but they are few and far between.  Some do still carry restrictions on who can borrow them (not available to minors) but generally the percentage of banned books is very low for Aotearoa New Zealand.

Many people are surprised at the range of books that are challenged and banned around the world.  For example, books we take for granted now like The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Color Purple and The Handmaid’s Tale have all been banned at some point.  Beloved children’s titles have been banned too; The Goosebumps series by R. L. Stine, I am Jazz by Jessica Herthel, Draw Me a Star by Eric Carle, Anne Frank’s The Diary of a Young Girl and even Dav Pilkey’s Captain Underpants have been banned in the past.

This year’s list of most banned and challenged books is a fascinating one, and we thought we would share them here so that you can choose yourself whether you wish to read them or not.

Gender queer : a memoir / Kobabe, Maia
“In 2014, Maia Kobabe, who uses e/em/eir pronouns, thought that a comic of reading statistics would be the last autobiographical comic e would ever write. At the time, it was the only thing e felt comfortable with strangers knowing about em. Now, Gender Queer is here. Maia’s intensely cathartic autobiography charts eir journey of self-identity, which includes the mortification and confusion of adolescent crushes, grappling with how to come out to family and society, bonding with friends over erotic gay fanfiction, and facing the trauma and fundamental violation of pap smears.” (Adapted from catalogue)

All boys aren’t blue : a memoir-manifesto / Johnson, George M.
“In a series of personal essays, prominent journalist and LGBTQIA+ activist George M. Johnson explores his childhood, adolescence, and college years in New Jersey and Virginia. From the memories of getting his teeth kicked out by bullies at age five, to flea marketing with his loving grandmother, to his first sexual relationships, this young-adult memoir weaves together the trials and triumphs faced by Black queer boys.” (Catalogue)

 

Out of darkness / Pérez, Ashley Hope
“Loosely based on a school explosion that took place in New London, Texas in 1937, this is the story of two teenagers: Naomi, who is Mexican, and Wash, who is black, and their dealings with race, segregation, love, and the forces that destroy people.” (Catalogue)

 

 

The hate u give / Thomas, Angie
“After witnessing her friend’s death at the hands of a police officer, Starr Carter’s life is complicated when the police and a local drug lord try to intimidate her in an effort to learn what happened the night Kahlil died.” (Catalogue)

 

 

The absolutely true diary of a part-time Indian / Alexie, Sherman
“Budding cartoonist Junior leaves his troubled school on the Spokane Indian Reservation to attend an all-white farm town school where the only other Indian is the school mascot.” (Catalogue)

 

 

Me and Earl and the dying girl : a novel / Andrews, Jesse
“Seventeen-year-old Greg has managed to become part of every social group at his Pittsburgh high school without having any friends, but his life changes when his mother forces him to befriend Rachel, a girl he once knew in Hebrew school who has leukemia.” (Catalogue)

 

 

The bluest eye / Morrison, Toni (eBook)
“Toni Morrison’s debut novel immerses us in the tragic, torn lives of a poor black family – Pauline, Cholly, Sam and Pecola – in post-Depression 1940s Ohio. Unlovely and unloved, Pecola prays each night for blue eyes like those of her privileged white schoolfellows. At once intimate and expansive, unsparing in its truth-telling, The Bluest Eye shows how the past savagely defines the present.” (Catalogue)

 

This book is gay / Dawson, James
“Former PSHCE teacher and acclaimed YA author James Dawson gives an uncensored look at what it’s like to grow up as LGBT. Including testimonials from people across the gender and sexual spectrums, this frank, funny, fully inclusive book explores everything anyone who ever dared to wonder wants to know – from sex to politics, how to pull, stereotypes, how to come-out and more. Spike Gerrell’s hilarious illustrations combined with funny and factual text make this a must-read.” (Catalogue)

Beyond magenta : transgender teens speak out / Kuklin, Susan
“Author and photographer Susan Kuklin met and interviewed six transgender or gender-neutral young adults and used her considerable skills to represent them thoughtfully and respectfully before, during, and after their personal acknowledgment of gender preference. Each honest discussion and disclosure, whether joyful or heartbreaking, is completely different from the other because of family dynamics, living situations, gender, and the transition these teens make in recognition of their true selves.” (Adapted from catalogue)

To learn more about Banned Books Week, go to Banned Books Week | September 18 – 24, 2022

New Biographies and Memoirs

From a rugby player fighting dementia to a wild woman of history, the working class kids to one of the most iconic women of our times, we have some fantastic new biographies and memoirs in our collection this month.

Unforgettable : rugby, dementia and the fight of my life / Thompson, Steve“Unforgettable is at once a powerful, affecting sports memoir from a true giant of rugby, and a raw call to arms to safeguard the sports we love and all those who play them.” (Catalogue)

Thief, convict, pirate, wife : the many histories of Charlotte Badger / Ashton, Jennifer“Charlotte Badger is a woman around whom many stories have been woven: the thief sentenced to death in England and then transported to New South Wales; the pirate who joined a mutiny to take a ship to the Bay of Islands; the first white woman resident in Aotearoa; the wife of a rangatira, and many more. The author shows how history and historical figures like Charlotte Badger are made and remade over time by journalists and historians, painters and playwrights. Thief, Convict, Pirate, Wife is the fascinating story of a remarkable, curious, ordinary woman and her place in history.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The all of it : a bogan rhapsody / Bell, Cadance“Seven years ago, Ben was loveless, overweight, in debt and living in his parents’ rumpus room, trying to find a way to quietly die. Days passed by in a haze of marijuana smoke and self-loathing. Then, one day, Ben decided not to die. He decided to change everything – starting with the Ben bit. Becoming Cadance would be more than a gender transition. It would be a transition in every way. It would mean leaving behind a rural Mudgee childhood filled with Frogger, hot chips, Godliness and a forbidden love of Sarah Parker’s My Little Pony; and the violence, drugs and secrecy that plagued her twenties. Choosing to live was just the beginning; what mattered was how she existed. She was going to experience the all of it.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Corrections in ink : a memoir / Blakinger, Keri“An elite, competitive figure skater growing up, Keri Blakinger poured herself into the sport, even competing at nationals. But when her skating partnership ended abruptly, her world shattered. With all the intensity she saved for the ice, she dove into self-destruction. From her first taste of heroin, the next nine years would be a blur-living on the streets, digging for a vein, selling drugs and sex, eventually plunging off a bridge when it all became too much, all while trying to hold herself together enough to finish her degree at Cornell. Then, on a cold day during Keri’s senior year, the police stopped her. Caught with a Tupperware container full of heroin, she was arrested and ushered into a holding cell, a county jail, and finally into state prison. There, in the cruel “upside down,” Keri witnessed callous conditions and encountered women from all walks of life-women who would change Keri forever.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Muddy people : a Muslim coming of age / El Sayed, Sara“A quick, clever, warm-hearted debut about growing up in an Egyptian-Muslim family. Sara is growing up in a family with a lot of rules. Her mother tells her she’s not allowed to wear a bikini, her father tells her she’s not allowed to drink alcohol, and her grandmother tells her to never trust a man with her money. After leaving Egypt when Sara was only six years old, her family slowly learns how to navigate the social dynamics of their new home. Sara feels out of place in her new school. Her father refuses to buy his coworkers a ginger beer, thinking it contains alcohol. Her mother refuses to wear a hijab, even if it would help them connect with other local Muslims. And Sara learns what it feels like to have a crush on a boy, that some classmates are better friends than others, and that her parents are loving, but flawed people who don’t always know what’s best for her, despite being her strongest defenders.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Coconut / Olajide, Florence“1963, North London. Nan fosters one-year-old Florence Ọlájídé and calls her ‘Ann.’ Florence adores her foster mother more than anything but Nan, and the children around her, all have White skin and she can’t help but feel different. Then, four years later, after a weekend visit to her birth parents, Florence never returns to Nan. Two months after, sandwiched between her mother and father plus her three siblings, six-year-old Florence steps off a ship in Lagos to the fierce heat of the African sun. Swapping the lovely, comfortable bed in her room at Nan’s for a mat on the floor of the living room in her new home, Florence finds herself struggling to adjust. She wants to embrace her cultural heritage but doesn’t speak Yoruba and knows nothing of the customs. Clashes with her grandmother, Mama, the matriarch of the family, result in frequent beatings. Torn between her early childhood experiences and the expectations of her African culture, she begins to question who she is. Nigerian, British, both?” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Annie’s boy / Todd, Gary“Annie’s Boy is a coming-of-age story as seen through the eyes of a boy and his mum living in Scotland in the 1970s and 80s where fear, violence and struggle was an everyday part of life. It is a story of hope and quiet courage and perseverance that will take you on an emotional roller coaster that spans over fifteen years of their lives and what they did to survive. Gary and his mother lived in fear at the intimidation and violence that came from his father. At the age of ten, he agreed to testify against his father in court to try and stop the ordeal from continuing. The book is also a look at the tough and gritty life of Dundee during the period.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The gift of a radio : my childhood and other trainwrecks / Webb, Justin“Justin Webb’s memoir of his 1970s upbringing is as much a portrait of a strange decade in our history as of his own dysfunctional childhood. Justin Webb’s childhood was far from ordinary. Between his mother’s un-diagnosed psychological problems, and his step-father’s untreated ones, life at home was dysfunctional at best. But with gun-wielding school masters and sub-standard living conditions, Quaker boarding school wasn’t much better. And the backdrop to this coming of age story? Britain in the 1970s. Led Zeppelin, Janis Joplin and Free. Strikes, inflation and IRA bombings. A time in which attitudes towards mental illness, parenting and masculinity were worlds apart from the attitudes we have today. A society that believed itself to be close to the edge of breakdown.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Yoko Ono : an artful life / Brackett, Donald“For more than sixty years, Yoko Ono has fascinated us as one of the world’s most innovative, radical artists. From a childhood of both extraordinary privilege and extreme deprivation in war-time Japan, she adopted an outsider’s persona and moved to America where, after a spell at Sarah Lawrence College, she made a place for herself in bohemian arts circles. She was already twice divorced and established as a performance artist in the Fluxus movement and in Tokyo’s avant-garde scene before her fortuitous meeting with the Beatles’ John Lennon at a London Gallery in 1966. Their intense yet fraught relationship, reputed to have blown-up the Beatles, made headlines around the world, as did their famous bed-ins in protest of the Vietnam war, and their majestic, Grammy-winning musical collaborations. Through it all, and for decades after Lennon’s tragic death, she remained defiantly herself. Yoko Ono: An Artful Life charts her journey of personal turmoil, artistic evolution, and activism, and at last tells her iconic story on her own terms.” (Catalogue)

To see what else is new in our collection, go to what’s new & popular (wcl.govt.nz)