Friday, October 1, 2010

Top 20 Novels of the 20th Century

Since it's Banned Book Week, I thought I would post the top twenty books on the ALA, American Library Associations list of the top 100 novels of the 20th century.  It's an interesting list and if you follow the link above, it also offers the reasoning's behind why a book has been banned or challenged.

Of this list of twenty books, all of the bolded ones have somewhere along the line been banned or challenged.  One, two, three...SEVENTEEN

That's right, seventeen of the top twenty best books in the 20th century have been banned or challenged.

When I look at this list and think back to when I read many of these books, I wonder at the reasoning's behind the ban/challenge.  Many of the complaints stem from the use of "inappropriate language."  See, so many of these books were written about how life is/was/or will be.  How can we say the language is "inappropriate" if that was how it was at the time?  Plus, how can you teach someone that the words, or the meaning behind the words, are wrong if they never hear or see them being used?

I'm a great believer in life's lessons and learn as you go, because what better way to know for me what's wrong and what's right, but really, if you take all of the "naughty" words away and make them taboo, our youth will not know the why of not using them.  Hiding in the dark and telling your child to never, never utter these words, EVER!!!  Doesn't work.  I guarantee that they will step outside and say the word, just because you told them not to.

Besides, I want my child to know and choose not to use those words, because she knows how derogatory and degrading they are and I want her to know how to treat everyone as an equal.  So if there is a book out there that gives a realistic shot of what life was like for someone not like her, then I want her to take a literary walk in those shoes and not bury her head in the sand.

~Serena climbs down from her soap box with a wink and a ((hug)) for her readers.~

Read a book today and take a walk in someone else's shoes!

Top 20 Novels of the 20th Century

1. The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald
2. The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger
3. The Grapes of Wrath, by John Steinbeck
4. To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
5. The Color Purple, by Alice Walker
6. Ulysses, by James Joyce
7. Beloved, by Toni Morrison
8. The Lord of the Flies, by William Golding
9. 1984, by George Orwell
10. The Sound and the Fury, by William Faulkner
11. Lolita, by Vladmir Nabokov
12. Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck
13. Charlotte's Web, by E.B. White
14. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, by James Joyce
15. Catch-22, by Joseph Heller
16. Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley
17. Animal Farm, by George Orwell
18. The Sun Also Rises, by Ernest Hemingway
19. As I Lay Dying, by William Faulkner
20. A Farewell to Arms, by Ernest Hemingway


Rebecca Murray said...

"You have a fly in your eye. Well, you've got peanut brittle on your shirt." I loved Catch-22. I read it in 8th grade after being told by a lit teacher that it had been removed from the syllabus by the Board of Education. Excellent post, as always!

Serena Shay said...

Thanks Rebecca! Sadly, Catch 22 was one of the books I missed reading from the list, but I now have it on request at the library. :) I'm taking you up on the reading challenge from wednesday. ;)

I also requested one of my favorites, The Great Gatsby. I so fell in love with this story and the roaring twenties when I read it in high school. It's time to give it another read!

Pat C. said...

I've only read about half the books on that list, probably because I was into SF in my early years. I'm sure if the school board had read any of Harlan Ellison's works, they would have banned him, too. Can I substitute One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest for one of the books I missed?

How did Charlotte's Web avoid the banning brigade? Charlotte's an unwed mother living in a barn with a pig. Do we really want our children reading that?

Rebecca Murray said...

I was reading W.E.B. Griffen by that time, so Catch-22 was right up my ally. It's about WWII fighter pilots trying to get sent home from the war. It's hilarious in places.

I have not read the Great Gatsby; I'll have to add that one to my list.

Savanna Kougar said...


Savanna Kougar said...

Yay! It seems to be working again, posting a comment.

Charlotte's Web??? My teacher read that to us in grade school.

IMO those who ban or challenge books are *generally* so impoverished in their souls and their lives they get into everyone else's business instead tending to their own, and living their own lives.

Plus, generally they don't want to truly educate themselves, and actually understand other perspectives or history,or why things were the way there were in our past... they just want everyone to go along with their idea of what's right and wrong. If we did that we'd be stuck in times when slavery was acceptable.

Serena Shay said...

LOL...You make a interesting point there, Pat, and on top of those things...the animals talk! Gasp! ;)

Actually, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's nest is on the list as well, just further down so sub away. :)

Serena Shay said...

Very cool, Rebecca, I can't wait to get Catch-22 from the library. I love humor in stories. Ooh, enjoy Gatsby!

Serena Shay said...

Well said, Savanna! It's so sad to think about how many folks out there are struggling with an impoverished soul. A good book might go a very long way to correct some of that. :)

Solara said...

Well my age maybe showing. I've 9 of the novels listed and heard of most of them. Toni Morrison is modern later 20th century. The others are taught in most American Literature courses or Modern Novel. I read these in junior high or high school English classes. You are going to find folks who object to something everywhere. as a friend of mine once said, when they wanted to take the book off the reading list, it made me want to read it that much more. I wanted to say thank you for exposing me to that book. It influenced me greatly.