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10 Books Banned Because Critics Missed the Point

10 Books Banned Because Critics Missed the Point

Books are often banned or challenged because their critics read a novel’s content without any context. An off-the-cuff swear word could be used as ammunition for getting a book taken off the shelves, especially if the critics aren’t reading between the lines, and only looking at words. Ironically, the reason many books are banned is simply because the people behind the censorship have absolutely no idea what the story they’re reading is actually about. Check out this list of 10 books banned for the wrong reasons.

1. The Lord of the Flies, William Golding

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    Golding’s infamous story about a group of children who, upon crashing onto a deserted island, slowly develop a microcosm that ultimately leads to death and destruction has been challenged time and again, for a variety of reasons. Most notably, it was challenged in a North Carolina high school for being “demoralizing inasmuch as it implies that man is little more than an animal.” Okay, so I guess these parents didn’t exactly misunderstand the book, but they certainly misunderstood that this is exactly what the reader is supposed to get out of reading the novel.

    2. Catcher in the Rye, JD Salinger

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      Published in 1951, Catcher in the Rye chronicles the adventures of teenage misanthrope Holden Caulfield. Critics have pointed to the vulgar language, sexual references, and situations with alcohol in their crusade to ban this book from library shelves and high school English classes since 1960. What they fail to realize is the story is told by Holden, not by Salinger. What did they expect a story told by a cynical teenager suffering from depression (to say the least) to contain? That it’s not made blatantly clear until the end of the novel that Holden is telling this story from the comfort of a mental institution makes you wonder if the critics even finished it, or were too busy counting how many times Caulfield drops the “f-bomb” to get around to it.

      3. The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald

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        One of the most popular American novels also happens to be one of the most misunderstood stories of our time. The fact that the 2013 movie release spawned many “Gatsby-themed” parties throughout the country make it even more obvious that Fitzgerald’s intentions have gone unnoticed by the general population. Ironically, the degenerate actions of most of the characters within Gatsby have little to do with the reason the novel has been challenged since its publication in 1925. It was challenged in the 1980s by Baptist College in South Carolina, citing use of the words “d—,” “h—,” and “son-of-a-b—-,” as well as a couple of vague sexual innuendos. Honestly, if they wanted to ban the book that badly, there is a ton of material they could have used that would make much more sense.

        4. Catch-22, Joseph Heller

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          Catch-22 is the story of a World War II soldier who desperately wants to leave the battlefield on grounds of insanity. However, he cannot since anyone who would want to leave the armed forces is obviously not insane, and therefore must fight. It’s a scathing commentary on the “heroics” of war, painting a picture that the purpose of war is to perpetuate the war itself. Seen as anti-patriotic, it was banned by an Ohio school district in 1972. However, this ban was lifted four years later. Ironically, it was banned in a Washington city for the references to prostitutes throughout the novel. Of all the contextual evidence critics could have used, they rely on the use of a simple word to constitute a banning.
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          5. Invisible Man, Ralph Ellison

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            Ellison’s novel paints a vivid picture of the atrocities of race relations in early 20th century America. While incredibly eye-opening, it is also incredibly graphic, gratuitous, and disturbing. Despite an overwhelming positive response from critics, complaints from two parents were enough to ban the novel in a North Carolina city school district. One adult claimed the story did not have “any literary value” at all. Ironic, since TIME magazine called this book “the quintessential American picaresque of the 20th century.” Did the parents who argued against the teaching of this book also argue against teaching the realities of pre-Civil Rights-era America?

            6. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Ken Kesey

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              Kesey’s famous depiction of the atrocities committed against patients in a 1950s mental institution has been challenged by a number of school districts. Most notably, the same Ohio district that challenged Catch-22 also decided that One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest “glofiries criminal activity, has a tendency to corrupt juveniles and contains descriptions of bestiality, bizarre violence, and torture, dismemberment, death, and human elimination.” While it’s clear that they at least read the book, it’s not so evident that they understood Kesey’s message. Unfortunately, the author’s message, that mental patients are human beings and should be treated as such, must have gone right out the window with Chief Bromden.

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              7. The Naked and the Dead, Norman Mailer

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                An incredibly vivid, gratuitous, and overall disturbing novel, The Naked and the Dead chronicles the atrocities of World War II unlike any other novel to date. I’ll be blatantly honest, I couldn’t finish it. It’s that heart-wrenching, twisted, and depressing. Of course, that has nothing to do with why people have wanted to ban it since its publication in 1948. It was banned in Canada and Australia for the use of the word “fug” (a euphemism which I’m sure you can figure out), and for being deemed “disgusting” by the Canadian Minister of National Revenue, despite his not actually having read the novel at all. He’s right though, the novel is disgusting, but so is war.

                8. The Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck

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                  One of Steinbeck’s greatest novels, The Grapes of Wrath centers on a working-class family trying to stay afloat during the Great Depression. Published in 1939, the work was attacked for its wanton depiction of Depression-era life for those negatively affected by the stock market crash. Though Steinbeck himself argued that real life was much worse for the poor than how his novel depicted it, many critics accused him of spreading political propaganda. Regardless of all of this, the book has also been challenged or banned in a variety of school districts because the characters at times take the Lord’s name in vain. I mean, how dare these people who have been forced to the brink of starvation let their frustrations out through a few carelessly used phrases?

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                  9. Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury

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                    It can’t get any more ironic, can it? A story about the slippery slope of censorship actually being chopped up and expurgated is like…I can’t even come up anything as ridiculous to compare this to. Well, it gets funnier. The book wasn’t outright banned, but a California school district actually went through the trouble of blanking out vulgar words and passages throughout the novel. Another district in Texas challenged the novel for “discussion of being drunk, smoking cigarettes, violence, ‘dirty talk,’ references to the Bible, and using God’s name in vain.” I should end this list now so you can reflect on the irony of this situation, but there’s one more important one to get to.

                    10. Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain

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                      The “Great American Novel” has been challenged since its publication over 100 years ago. Unfortunately, the most important novel in American history is also the most misunderstood. Yes, it’s vulgar. Yes, it uses the “n-word.” Yes, it does expose God-fearing, church-going pre-Civil War Americans as the racist imbeciles most of them were. However, the story is an absolute necessity for anyone hoping to understand what it was like, not only for Blacks in America at the time, but also for anyone who has faced a life-changing moral dilemma during their time on Earth. Any critics who point to the characters’ vulgar language or immoral actions in the novel as evidence the book should be banned have missed Twain’s purpose for writing it. If everyone in the world lived by Huck’s code of ethics, there would be far less violence, hatred, and prejudice.

                      Featured photo credit: Books/Pixabay via pixabay.com

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                      Last Updated on September 20, 2018

                      10 Famous Failures to Success Stories That Will Inspire You to Carry On

                      10 Famous Failures to Success Stories That Will Inspire You to Carry On

                      Failure occurs everyday, in school, jobs, housework, and within families. It is unavoidable, irritating and causes pessimism.

                      While the thought of flinging your hands in the air and walking away is all too appealing, take a second to connect with the people who have been there and survived.

                      Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently. — Henry Ford

                      Here are 10 famous failures to success stories around the world that will inspire you to keep going and achieve greatness:

                      1. J.K. Rowling

                        During a Harvard commencement speech, Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling outlined the importance and value of failure.[1]

                        Why? Simply because she was once a failure too.

                        A few short years after her graduation from college, her worst nightmares were realized. In her words,

                        “I had failed on an epic scale. An exceptionally short-lived marriage had imploded, and I was jobless, a lone parent, and as poor as it is possible to be in modern Britain, without being homeless. The fears that my parents had had for me, and that I had had for myself, had both come to pass, and by every usual standard, I was the biggest failure I knew.”

                        Coming out of this failure stronger and more determined was the key to her success.

                        2. Steve Jobs

                          The now revolutionary Apple started off with two men in a garage. Years later we all know it as a $2 billion company with over 4000 employees.

                          Yet, almost unbelievably, Steve Jobs was fired from the very company he began.

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                          The dismissal made him realize that his passion for his work exceeded the disappointment of failure. Further ventures such as NeXT and Pixar eventually led Jobs back to the CEO position at AppleJobs said in 2005:

                          “I didn’t see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me.”

                          Lost your job today? Keep kicking and you could be just like this guy!

                          3. Bill Gates
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                            Bill Gates was a Harvard dropout. He co-owned a business called Traf-O-Data, which was a true failure.[2]

                            However, skill and a passion for computer programming turned this failure into the pioneer of famous software company Microsoft, and the then 31-year-old into the world’s youngest self-made billionaire.

                            In his own words:

                            “It’s fine to celebrate success but it is more important to heed the lessons of failure.”

                            This isn’t to say that dropping out of Harvard will make you into a billionaire, but maybe that shiny degree isn’t worth as much as the drive and passion to succeed.

                            4. Albert Einstein

                              The word ‘Einstein’ is associated with intelligence and synonymous with genius. Yet it is a famous fact that the pioneer of the theory of general relativity, Albert Einstein himself, could not speak fluently until the age of nine. His rebellious nature led to expulsion from school, and he was refused admittance to the Zurich Polytechnic School.

                              His earlier setbacks did not stop him from winning the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1921. After all, he believed that:

                              “Success is failure in progress.”

                              To this day, his research has influenced various aspects of life including culture, religion, art, and even late night TV.

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                              Just because you haven’t achieved anything great yet, doesn’t mean you can’t be an Einstein yourself.

                              5. Abraham Lincoln

                                Failing in business in 1831, suffering a nervous breakdown in 1836, defeated in his run for president in 1856, Abraham Lincoln was no stranger to rejection and failure. Rather than taking these signs as a motivation for surrender, he refused to stop trying his best.

                                In this great man’s words:

                                “My great concern is not whether you have failed, but whether you are content with your failure.”

                                Lincoln was elected in 1861 as the 16th President of the United States of America.

                                The amount of rejection you receive is not a defining factor. Success is still within your reach.

                                6. Michael Jordan

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                                  “I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”

                                  This quote by retired basketball legend Michael Jordan in a Nike advertisement speaks for itself.

                                  It would be an easy misconception that Jordan’s basketball skills revolve around natural talent. In fact, in his earlier years,  basketball coaches had trouble looking past the fact that Jordan didn’t reach the minimum height. It was years of effort, practice, and failure that made the star we know today.

                                  7. Steven Spielberg

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                                    Regarded as one of the most influential filmmakers of all time, Steven Spielberg is a familiar household name. It is surprising to realize therefore that the genius behind Jaws and E.T. had poor grades in high school, getting him rejected from the University of Southern California three times.

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                                    While he was in college, he caught the eye of executives at Universal, who signed him as a television director in 1969. This meant that he would not finish his college degree for another 33 years.

                                    Perseverance and acceptance of failure is the key to success, after all.

                                    “Even though I get older, what I do never gets old, and that’s what I think keeps me hungry.”

                                    Bad grades in high school aside, there is no questioning the genius involved.

                                    To date, Spielberg has directed 51 films and has been awarded three Oscars.

                                    8. Walt Disney

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                                      Mickey Mouse creator Walt Disney dropped out of school at a young age in a failed attempt at joining the army.[3] One of his earlier ventures, Laugh-o-Gram Studios, went bankrupt due to his lack of ability to run a successful business. He was once fired from a Missouri newspaper for “not being creative enough.”

                                      Yet today, The genius behind Disney studios is responsible for generations of childhood memories and dreams. From Snow White to Frozen, Disney will continue to entertain the world for generations to come.

                                      The logic behind this is simple:

                                      “We don’t look backwards for very long. We keep moving forward, opening up new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious… and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.”

                                      9. Vincent Van Gogh

                                        During his lifetime, Vincent Van Gogh suffered mental illness, failed relationships, and committed suicide at the age of 37.

                                        He only ever sold one painting in his life, pinning him a failure as an artist. However that did not put a damper on his enthusiasm and passion for art.

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                                        He would never know that years and years after his death he would become known as a key figure in the world of post-impressionism, and ultimately, one of the greatest artist that ever lived.

                                        He would never know that he became a hot topic in art classes and his image was going to be used in TV, books and other forms of popular culture.

                                        In the words of this great, but tragic man:

                                        “If you hear a voice within you say ‘you cannot paint,’ then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.”

                                        10. Stephen King

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                                          As a paranoid, troubled child, tormented by nightmares and raised in poverty, it is no surprise that Stephen King grew up to the title: “Master of Horror”.[4]

                                          An addiction to drugs and alcohol were his mechanisms to cope with the unhappiness he felt with his life. The frustration he felt towards multiple rejections by publishers in combination with illicit substances caused him to mentally contemplate violence towards his own children.

                                          These intense emotions were those that he focused onto his writing. And that’s why he said:

                                          “We make up horros to help us cope with the real ones.”

                                          Writing became his new coping mechanism, and this is how the master author we know today grew to success.

                                          Fail more often in order to succeed

                                          Like Albert Einstein said, failure really is just success in progress. If you’d rather not to fail, you will probably never succeed.

                                          Success comes from moments of frustrations when you’ll be most uncomfortable with. But after you’ve gone through all those bitter times, you’ll become stronger and you’ll get closer to success.

                                          Don’t be afraid to fail. In fact, start failing, and start failing often; that’s how you will succeed.

                                          Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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