Readers’ Corner, Oct. 23: Read a banned book!

By Bonnie McCune & Kathleen Duhamel ~

How poignant that a story about book-burning, Ray Bradbury’s classic, Fahrenheit 451, has itself often been the object of censorship. Published in 1953, it made the Top 100 Banned/Challenged Books: 2000-2009. Re-reading it now, the violence with which Firemen comply with their duties fails to shock the reader. Excesses by law enforcement and bad guys, international terrorists along with neighbors next door are par today. Yet the more subtle lessons of the story resonate long after the last page is finished, for love lost and found, personal courage, and very human emotions. Now’s the time to re-learn the message that a suppressive, all-powerful government cannot control every iota of life.

All Boys Aren’t Blue: A Memoir-Manifesto (George M. Johnson) was banned in numerous school districts for its LGBTQ content and sexually specific passages. Johnson’s 2020 best seller gives readers a thoughtful, eye-opening account of his personal journey as a queer Black boy growing to manhood. Although he benefitted from being in a large, accepting family, Johnson spent most of his early life knowing he was “different” but not having the words to express himself. His journey to self-acceptance offers wisdom and compassion for anyone struggling to fit into traditional gender roles. 

The Handmaid’s Tale. Although not written as prophecy, Margaret Atwood’s 1985 dystopian novel offers a chilling glimpse into the future when an authoritarian, patriarchal cult overthrows the government. Women’s rights are stripped away: they can’t learn to read and write, own property, or control their reproductive functions. The central character, Offred, is one of the few fertile young women left, due to environmental pollution. She is forced into sexual servitude to produce children for the male ruling class. Due to its use of profanity and sexual/political content, the book has the dubious honor of being one of the most banned books in America. 

Find author Kathleen Duhamel at and Bonnie McCune at

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