My summer of 2011 reading list includes classic works of literature that have been challenged or banned. When I am looking for something to read, I always first refer to the list of banned and challenged classics provided by the American Library Association. I have found the banned books list always provides worthwhile reading and most of my favorite novels can be found there. I think that is is no coincidence that according to The Office for Intellectual Freedom, a branch of the American Library Association, at least 46 of the Radcliffe Top 100 Novels of the 20th Century have been the target of banning attempts. I have purchased all of these novels at a used book store and saved them for when I have time to do more reading.
Richard Wright’s Native Son
I know very little about the plot of this novel besides the rave reviews that I received from other graduate students when I studied literature. This book involves a black, male character who has been implicated in the murder of a young, wealthy, white woman, and that it examines the inevitable racial issues and struggles that surface. This novel was written in 1940 and set in Chicago, Illinois.
Norman Mailer’s The Naked and the Dead
I began reading this book two summers ago. I never found the time to finish it. It must be said here that although I am a staunch pacifist, I have a fixation with war literature. I only read the first seventy five or so pages of this book, but I found it to be incredibly intense. The novel takes place on a fictional South Pacific island during World War II. The war scenes are both grotesque and heartbreaking.
Joseph Heller’s Catch-22
This is another of my war novels. This novel is set during World War II and focuses on bomber pilots. The “catch-22” of the book is that the Army accepts only one reason for a pilot refusing to fly'”insanity. However, as a result of the danger associated with the missions, it is at the same time believed that a pilot’s refusal to fly proves his sanity. I also heard rave reviews of this novel during graduate school.
I have no doubt that I will add more titles to my summer reading list, but these are the items that I simply must read this year. If you find yourself looking for books to read over the summer, consider consulting the ALA’s list of banned and challenged books. Having read most of them, I say with confidence that they come highly recommended.
Graduate School Hearsay
ALA List of Banned and/or Challenged Classics http://www.ala.org/ala/issuesadvocacy/banned/frequentlychallenged/challengedclassics/index.cfm
Radcliffe Publishing Course Top 100 Novels of the 20 thCentury http://www.modernlibrary.com/top-100/radcliffes-rival-100-best-novels-list/