Why do we study literature? In a world increasingly predisposed to vocational and technical disciplines, we often find ourselves questioning why we spend our time in school reading Kurt Vonnegut and Jack London instead of learning how to fill out a tax return. Harper Lee won’t ever teach us how to put food on the table and pay our bills. Why waste our time on such seemingly impractical knowledge?
Because literature teaches us what it means to be human. The stories we read provide us the means to give expression to our most indescribable emotions. The stories we read afford us solidarity and comfort by reminding us that we share our humanity; for every emotion we seemingly cannot bear, we take solace in the stories of those who have experienced the same.
The Great Gatsby
Of Mice and Men
Brave New World
The Sun Also Rises
A Separate Peace
When I long for something, I am sitting on that dock right next to Gatsby, hands stretched out toward the green light, beating on in boats against the current. When I find my friendships tested, I sit there with George as we rack our minds with an unfathomably difficult decision. When I struggle against the tide of conformity, I proudly take a stand with John the Savage and his relentless individualism. When I feel played and mistreated, I charge around that bullpen, vision clouded red with a wild rage. When jealousy clouds my judgment, I remember the inescapable regret dripping from Gene’s every word.
These books have all played an integral role in the construction of my character. But that is not all that they have in common. These works have been the target of banning attempts. We now find ourselves in Banned Books Week, where we celebrate our freedom to read these titles and many others.
The Human Costs of Banning Books
Be sure to read our past posts in honor of Banned Books Week: #Thatbookthat Challenges Students: Banned Books Week and Marketing Banned Books To Our Students