Banned Books Week- ‘Of Mice and Men’ by John Steinbeck

I’m celebrating our freedom to read this week September 30- October 6th: Banned Books Week. I checked out ‘Of Mice and Men‘  – which seemed like the most interesting book on a list of popular banned books my father emailed me that was (A). Not too long, I do have about 12 other books on my shortlist, or (B). One that I had not already read.

Of Mice and Men‘ by John Steinbeck was published in 1937 and is a ‘playable novel’ as Steinbeck calls it. The descriptions give stage directions to the characters, and the chapters are the scene changes. It sets the tragic story of George and Lennie- two migrant workers struggling to live and dreaming of a better life during the Depression. The novel examines their friendship and the complications of their relationship. Because Lennie is mentally disabled he gets into trouble and George feels responsible for him, and I believe actually cares about him also.

Of Mice and Men’  has been challenged at least 54 times since it was published. It was the sixth most challenged book in the US between 1990 and 2000. There are many reasons for the challenges- offensive and vulgar language, profanity, racism, and sexism to name a few. I admit, the language was not my cup of tea, but I do appreciate that it was a working man’s language and not that of someone educated- which would have been unfitting in the setting of the novel. The novel’s theme of racism focused on Crooks, the African American stable buck. The theme of sexism on centered on Curley’s wife- whom was never even named.

I won’t get into all of the themes, environmental factors and faults of the characters because that would take a novel longer than the original to do it justice, but I will leave it at this. ‘Of Mice and Men’ is a snapshot of a moment in history (that doesn’t even take all aspects of history into consideration- like the different ethnicities of the migrant workers, or the presence of women labor organizers) which focuses on the universal loneliness and longing for something better that can be found in every single one of the characters. Perhaps that is one of the reasons why the book has become a classic – it is human nature to sometimes feel lonely and especially to long for something more (although perhaps in not so desperate a situation), so it is a very relatable theme.

Here’s the list my dad sent me- just a friendly little nudge to go out support literacy in America- and have some fun at the same time!

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
11. Lolita, by Vladmir Nabokov
12. Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck
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
23. Their Eyes Were Watching God, by Zora Neale Hurston
24. Invisible Man, by Ralph Ellison
25. Song of Solomon, by Toni Morrison
26. Gone with the Wind, by Margaret Mitchell
27. Native Son, by Richard Wright
28. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, by Ken Kesey
29. Slaughterhouse-Five, by Kurt Vonnegut
30. For Whom the Bell Tolls, by Ernest Hemingway
33. The Call of the Wild, by Jack London
36. Go Tell it on the Mountain, by James Baldwin
38. All the King’s Men, by Robert Penn Warren
40. The Lord of the Rings, by J.R.R. Tolkien
45. The Jungle, by Upton Sinclair
48. Lady Chatterley’s Lover, by D.H. Lawrence
49. A Clockwork Orange, by Anthony Burgess
50. The Awakening, by Kate Chopin
53. In Cold Blood, by Truman Capote
57. Sophie’s Choice, by William Styron
64. Sons and Lovers, by D.H. Lawrence
66. Cat’s Cradle, by Kurt Vonnegut
67. A Separate Peace, by John Knowles
73. Naked Lunch, by William S. Burroughs
74. Brideshead Revisited, by Evelyn Waugh
75. Women in Love, by D.H. Lawrence
80. The Naked and the Dead, by Norman Mailer
84. Tropic of Cancer, by Henry Miller
88. An American Tragedy, by Theodore Dreiser
97. Rabbit, Run, by John Updike

Below is another list I found of the Top 50 Banned Books from 2000-2009:

1. Harry Potter (series), by J.K. Rowling
2. Alice series, by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
3. The Chocolate War, by Robert Cormier
4. And Tango Makes Three, by Justin Richardson/Peter Parnell
5. Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck
6. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, by Maya Angelou
7. Scary Stories (series), by Alvin Schwartz
8. His Dark Materials (series), by Philip Pullman
9. ttyl; ttfn; l8r g8r (series), by Lauren Myracle
10. The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky
11. Fallen Angels, by Walter Dean Myers
12. It’s Perfectly Normal, by Robie Harris
13. Captain Underpants (series), by Dav Pilkey
14. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain
15. The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison
16. Forever, by Judy Blume
17. The Color Purple, by Alice Walker
18. Go Ask Alice, by Anonymous
19. Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger
20. King and King, by Linda de Haan
21. To Kill A Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
22. Gossip Girl (series), by Cecily von Ziegesar
23. The Giver, by Lois Lowry
24. In the Night Kitchen, by Maurice Sendak
25. Killing Mr. Griffen, by Lois Duncan
26. Beloved, by Toni Morrison
27. My Brother Sam Is Dead, by James Lincoln Collier
28. Bridge To Terabithia, by Katherine Paterson
29. The Face on the Milk Carton, by Caroline B. Cooney
30. We All Fall Down, by Robert Cormier
31. What My Mother Doesn’t Know, by Sonya Sones
32. Bless Me, Ultima, by Rudolfo Anaya
33. Snow Falling on Cedars, by David Guterson
34. The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big, Round Things, by Carolyn Mackler
35. Angus, Thongs, and Full Frontal Snogging, by Louise Rennison
36. Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley
37. It’s So Amazing, by Robie Harris
38. Arming America, by Michael Bellasiles
39. Kaffir Boy, by Mark Mathabane
40. Life is Funny, by E.R. Frank
41. Whale Talk, by Chris Crutcher
42. The Fighting Ground, by Avi
43. Blubber, by Judy Blume
44. Athletic Shorts, by Chris Crutcher
45. Crazy Lady, by Jane Leslie Conly
46. Slaughterhouse-Five, by Kurt Vonnegut
47. The Adventures of Super Diaper Baby: The First Graphic Novel by George Beard and Harold Hutchins, the creators of Captain Underpants, by Dav Pilkey
48. Rainbow Boys, by Alex Sanchez
49. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, by Ken Kesey
50. The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini

That list is directly from the American Library Association’s website (I took only the top 50, it goes up to 100 if you’re interested). I’ve bolded those books that I’ve read- incidentally I have a lot of catching up to do!

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One response to “Banned Books Week- ‘Of Mice and Men’ by John Steinbeck

  1. Pingback: 2012 Manifesto End of Year Wrap up! | thegreentreeischirping

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