Welcome to Banned Book Week.
Let’s celebrate a few books which have been deemed unfit for human consumption. The Catcher In The Rye (J.D. Salinger). The Grapes of Wrath (John Steinbeck). To Kill A Mockingbird (Harper Lee), Catch-22 (Joseph Heller). The Hunger Games (Suzanne Collins), Harry Potter — the entire series (J.K. Rowling). The Perks Of Being A Wallflower (Stephen Chbosky).
Each of these works has been labeled A Threat. The issues that offend people include sex, drugs, religion, values. A club will always exist whose members decide that if a book contains material that makes them uncomfortable, then the solution lies in a two-pronged attack. First, condemn the book as evil. Second, make it go away.
The Fifty Shades trilogy (E.L. James) has also been banned, and I thought the first book was excellent. When I tell people I’ve read these novels, they often express surprise that I’d admit it (which I find amusing). But they’re more surprised by my reaction. I think E.L. James is extremely talented at describing sex and sexual situations. Any good writing is difficult and as an author, I respect her talent tremendously. My problem lies in the second and third books in the series. James describes a psychotherapist who glaringly lacks boundaries and ethics. The doctor “bids” on his patient’s girlfriend at a fundraiser and literally buys her for a dance. He regularly attends social events hosted by the patient’s family. He accepts a referral from his patient, and then discusses one patient with another.
As a therapist who practiced for over 25 years before becoming an author, I dealt with the stigma on a regular basis. I’m angered by a book which feeds the stereotype, and worsens the problem. However, I would never suggest banning the trilogy. If I don’t like the books, I can choose not to read them, or not to recommend them. Even though I strongly believe that E.L. James promotes a damaging stereotype, I would stand with her, just as I would stand with other banned authors whose values I fully support.
Likewise, I loved the entire Harry Potter series, but I’m appalled by J.K. Rowling’s apparent need to indulge in transphobic rants. I’m saddened, outraged, and struggling to reconcile the values of acceptance depicted in her novels with her intolerance. I can choose to never again purchase one of her novels, but I’d never support banning her books.
As a novelist, I’m extremely aware that “Author” and “Universal Popularity” do not belong in the same sentence. Of course, I’m grateful for each positive review of my books. However, I’ve also received some less-than-stellar reviews, and I’m still grateful to each person who took the time to post a reaction to my work.
If my novels were ever placed on a “Banned List,” I’d be honored to be affiliated with the writers in this eclectic group. Actually, I can easily imagine several people in my country’s current administration who would absolutely despise the values in my books. I’d love my novels to be banned.
Novels By Amy Kaufman Burk
Hollywood High: Achieve The Honorable
A 15-year-old girl leaves her college prep academy for the local public high school with over forty languages spoken among the students. Written in reaction to witnessing gay students bullied in high school, and in gratitude for the richness of diversity my high school offered.
A rookie psychology intern goes through one year of training, working with her first patient – a young man who is stormy, seductive, brilliant and troubled. Written in support of same-sex parents, as a voice against the stigma of therapy, and with deep respect for the human capacity to heal.
Amy’s novels are available on Amazon.