Come on and join author Melissa Bradley as she sets off on her latest adventure...


If you are not 18, please exit stage left. While there is normally nothing naughty here, I do write and review erotica so there are links to spicy stuff and the occasional heated excerpt.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

In Celebration Of Banned Book Week

Of all tyrannies a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies, The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.

- C.S. Lewis

Provocative quote, isn't it? And so true. I am celebrating Banned Book Week loud and proud. As an author of sexy and spicy tales, I know what I write is controversial to many people. I know that if certain conservative wingnuts out there had their way, I would be on the banned list. I think that the very idea of censorship is abhorrent. It's telling people what to think.

What surprises me is how innocent censorship starts out. Well, Melissa, people say, we just don't want our kids to read those kinds of things. They're five, ten, two years old. They don't need to know about sex, violence, curse words, etc. I know that, I have four nephews. But, kids talk. They get and pass along, a lot of wrong information. I know because until I was fifteen, I thought that pregnancy only occurred right before your period. Well, a good friend from grade school, whose son is now 25, gave me that wrong information when we were eleven.

People love to say that Huckleberry Finn is about promoting violence and racial slurs. "We don't need that coming into our homes, Mel. We don't want to promote racism. We're good people." The mere act of reading about racism and slavery doesn't make you a violent plantation overseer. If reading affected people like that, then I would be a six foot blonde warrior goddess and a werewolf. I also would have gone to Narnia.

It all starts with this idea that we're somehow protecting our kids, ourselves, that we're not supporting cruelty or offending anyone, that we're making our society better. I am a sex writer, the proverbial canary in the mine shaft. What happens to those of us on the controversial fringe, snowballs. I guarantee it. First, it's the erotica and porn, then it's horror, then sci fi, then murder mysteries and on and on, all for innocent-sounding ideals.

Bertrand de Jouvenel said "A society of sheep must in time beget a government of wolves." We keep censoring stuff to protect our children, to promote good thoughts and eventually there is no stopping. More books get fed to the flame. Freedom is difficult. If we are to keep our freedom of choice, then we must defend others' choices when we don't like them. Instead of blocking our children from having the information, we should have open discussion.

Okay, I am off of my high horse. I will leave you with this thought, though. The next time you hear about someone turning down the censorship road, ask yourself, would you like to see your favorite author end up on a banned book list? Although that is a hellagood marketing strategy...Melissa Bradley author of banned books. Anyway, I'm sure the answer is a resounding no, so go on and read some banned books. I'm cracking open my very favorite novel and long time member of banned book lists everywhere, To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee.

Here are some banned books to consider:

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
The Kite Runner by Khaled Housseini
Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
The Flamingo Rising by Larry Baker
The Awakening by Kate Chopin
Olive's Ocean by Kevin Henkes
One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey
Harry Potter Series by JK Rowling
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
Flashcard of My Life by Charise Maricle Harper
Uncle Bobby's Wedding by Sarah S. Brannen


  1. I find it both interesting and amusing that a lot of the 'banned books' are also on the list of 'greatest books of all time'. I'll have to check out one or two of these to stick it to The Man :P Don't get me started on censorship. Censorship to me is like parents intentionally blinding their child so that they aren't exposed to any of the horrors of the world.

  2. Part of the problem is laziness. Some people want others to patrol for them. How about actually getting involved in your kids' lives?

  3. @Jamie That's a great analogy. If we don't expose our kids, how then, do they learn? Enjoy a banned book. It is amazing how the lists of greatest and banned share so many of the same titles.

    @Alex I agree. I also think because parents are uncomfortable discussing certain things, they choose to keep their kids from seeing it. But, what I find really interesting is that they put more effort into banning books from a school library than they do protesting shows like Jersey Shore.

  4. but really, Melsy, how do we know that you really aren't a six foot blonde warrior goddess and a werewolf? /eyesyoususpiciously/ :)

    THE KITE RUNNER is actually THE best selling book in my country for two years now as are other Housseini's books.

  5. @Dez I guess my secret's out then. I just may zap into your town and go on the prowl. ;)

    I LOVED The Kite Runner. Housseini is an incredible writer.

  6. can we get an a-men?

    as a mommy, i pay attention to what my kiddos read. now, i admit, i don't read everything they do before them, because seriously, my nine-year-old reads faster than i do. true story. he can just devour percy jackson novels in less than a week WHILE keeping up on his homework and begging for computer time. but i pay attention to the titles and if need be, look them up a bit. he's developed a strange fascination with ufo sightings. i think paying attention to what your kids read helps you know them a little better! (my other boys are too young for this to be a problem. my sammy's eyes don't track right, so i have to help him read, and my jude is just a beginner!)

    i wouldn't let my boys pick up one of your books at this age. but i'm actually really excited for when they get old (mature) enough that they can understand more challenging novels. i think reading helps us develop empathy and grow as individuals, and i look forward to guiding my boys along that path... and no. i don't intend for all the books they read when they hit their teenage years to be bubble gum lit.

  7. Good post. I'm with Alex. If you want to police what your kid reads, then you have every right to do so, but you shouldn't be allowed to ban the book for everyone.

  8. LOL @ Dezmond!

    As a neighbor from north of the border, where the tendency to forbid this and outlaw that is minimal when it comes to banning books, but high when it comes to guns, I get a weird sense of horror when I read the US banned books list.


  9. @vic Hallelujah, my sister blog buddy. My oldest nephew loves Percy, too. And I admit to reading them right after he finishes.

    I am all for being mindful of what the kids read. You are so right, it does help you to know them better. I love discussing books with my nephews and their friends. And my nephews know that I write, but they also know that they can't read my stuff until they're older. I tell them that my subject matter is harsh and complicated, that they would not understand much of it. The oldest (12 yrs) said "So if we read your stuff, it's like reading for school with questions and essays, right?" "Sure," said I. "Something like that." All four made faces and went "No thanks."

    @Kelley Alex did make a great point. Policing your kids' reading material is your prerogative. I absolutely support that, but the idea of trying to make everyone else follow your choice is just wrong. I liken censorship to interfering in-law parental advice. If more people could see it that way, then I think there would not be so many attempts to ban books under blanket protection of children.

    @Julia It is a very scary the way some people here react to ideas espoused in books. Like if they read about Harry Potter they'll no longer believe in the same values that you raised them with. I can't remember ever hearing about a kid scarring his forehead and believing in dementors after reading HP.

  10. I would consider it a badge of honor if someone were to someday ban my writing. The act of book banishment is itself a cruel thing, but then again, anyone who feels they have to censor me has given me precisely what I want: an emotional response.

    Still, I anticipate the day where book banishment is a thing of the past. Or, at the very least, more parents would step up to the plate and discuss things with their children, rather than hide the truth.

  11. @Jeffrey Here, here! Hiding our kids from the truths out there does a great disservice to them. I hope that book banning gets abolished, though you are right when you say that anyone who goes to the trouble of banning book is really giving you the ammo of a visceral response. You reached them and reaching readers is the goal of writing.

  12. Expanding minds is a great thing. I'm so glad I was allowed to read what I wanted. Did we sometimes read things inappropriate? Yes. It gave me a wider view of the world, and just because I read about something in a book didn't mean me or my sister or brothers were going to go out and try it. Every individual should be allowed to form their own thoughts and opinions, imo. :) I think reading is part of that. The more we read, the better.

  13. Aww, what a terrific and thought-provoking post. Oh, how I've missed your candid and satirical musings.

    Anyway, I just wanted to grace your blog with my presence, for it has been consumed by, to my utter dismay, myriad other non-blogging endeavors.

    Everything seems copacetic here. Glad to see you championing a wonderful cause. In fact, one of the books listed above is unequivocally cemented in my Top 5 All-Time Favorites. That book, of course, is F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby.

    Keep up the awesome work, Melissa :)

  14. It always makes my blood boil to learn of banned books. I still can't wrap my brain around it, not for a single book on the list. Brave New World is perhaps my all-time favorite.

    On a totally different note, I always appreciate your comments. You make me laugh. Thank you. Here's to being empowered single women.


  15. This is one of the reasons I love my library. For Banned Book Week last year, they put up an entire shelf right in front of the entrance showcasing banned books. :)

    The Kite Runner is one of my favorite novels, along with its companion. And Harry Potter, of course!

  16. @MPax I remember all too well some of the inappropriate things I read when I was growing up. I certainly had my eyes opened and it lead to some interesting discussions with my parents.

    @Matt Hey! It's so great to see you. I've missed your insightful comments. And thanks for the wonderful compliment. :)

    Gatsby is one of my all time favorite stories, as well. I first read it from own school library at age 14. I can't imagine what my literary tastes would be had I not read it when I did.

    Hope things settle down for you soon, our presence in the blogosphere is missed.

  17. @Robyn Here to us, my sister! Aww... I'm so glad you like my little sharp-tongued comments. I always enjoy your posts.

    I think if I were on a blood pressure monitor when I read an article about censorship, I would explode the machine. No one has the right to tell anyone what to think.

    @Golden Your library rocks! I just love how they celebrate banned book week. The Kite Runner is awesome and I think I just might have to reread very soon.

  18. not to forget the amazing 'American Psycho' from the amazing 'Bret Easton Ellis',
    banned in Germany for 5 years, and still restricted in many other countries.

  19. @Maynard American Pyscho is an incredible book. Easton Ellis is an amazing writer who is unflinching and brilliant in his storytelling. I have to read that again.

  20. Ellis is an amazing writer indeed. I read all his books at least 3-4 times and I just can't get enough of his stuff. The guy is a genius!


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