2016 Reading Challenge: Banned Books

2016 Reading Challenge- Banned Books

Happy weekend! We can’t believe the first week of May is over already! April was a busy month for us and it seemed as though we’d never catch up, but we did. That’s why we’re sharing the books we read in April for Modern Mrs. Darcy’s Reading Challenge with you today!

Deborah selected the category, “A book that was banned at some point.” Here are the books we chose.

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Deborah read The Color Purple by Alice Walker.

This is one of those books that I’d heard of but never read, especially considering that Steven Spielberg directed the movie version that starred the likes of Whoopi Goldberg, Danny Glover, and Oprah Winfrey. So, when my cousin and I hit up 2nd and Charles (a used book store the size of Barnes and Noble) and found a free copy of The Color Purple a few months ago, she told me to get it! I figured, at that price, I couldn’t really go wrong.

The story is told through a series of letters from Celie, a young black woman in the early 1900s. She’s 14 years old and pregnant by her own father at the very beginning, and we follow her through the next 30 or so years of her life as she’s taken away from her family and her beloved sister Nettie. The letters start out being from Celie to God, but, after Celie finds all the letters her sister sent her through the years that Mister has been hiding, she starts writing to Nettie. She discovers her love for Shug, her husband’s lover, and, through Shug’s love and encouragement, she learns that she can be her own strong woman.

In the edition that I read, there was actually two separate prologues from the author about the book. She talks about how so few people realize that the book is just as much about God and Celie’s relationship to Him as anything else. Shug teaches Celie that God is in everything, and it’s an interesting comparison once Nettie’s voice is brought into the story via her letters. Nettie is over in Africa as a missionary, so she’s constantly talking about the things she’s learned about God. Celie never loses her faith in God, but, by the end of the book, she’s redefined the term “God”.

The book was a pretty easy read once you got used to the language. Alice Walker made it feel natural and real, like an actual letter from someone would. Because it’s set 100 years ago, I had to read between the lines every now and then to translate some of the terms into today’s lingo. Other that that, it had an easy flow to it. It was good to watch Celie grow from this shy, meek girl whose father forced her to marry a man who couldn’t stand her into a proud, strong woman with her own business and house. It makes me want to see the movie and see such powerful characters brought to life on the screen. I’d definitely recommend it!

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Sarah read The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway.

This was my first time reading Hemingway and I finally understand why people say you either love him or hate him. His writing style doesn’t really allow for anything else. Where do I fall on the spectrum? Honestly, I’m a bit conflicted at the moment.

This book was not my favorite. It was a quick read and I was thankful for it. For most of the novel, I was confused and in a constant state of anticipation, waiting for some kind of climax to occur between characters. Instead, every drunken argument and romantic tryst that takes place is understated and glossed over. But, now that I’ve finished the book, I’m pretty sure that was Hemingway’s intention.

The novel centers on the complicated relationships of a group of American expatriates and their British counterparts living in post-World War I Paris. Each character is unhappy for some reason or another, from job dissatisfaction to unrequited love. And, they all seem to wander through life without any real sense of purpose, except to drink their days away–which they do.

First published in 1926, the novel does an excellent job of capturing the complicated feelings of disappointment and frustration the “lost generation” faced. (It’s even said to be a semi-autobiographical account of part of Hemingway’s own life.) The title suggests that despite whatever trials the characters face, the sun will continue to rise and life will go on, with or without them. Not exactly a happy truth, but true just the same.

In fact, that’s exactly how I would describe Hemingway’s writing. Honest. He provides plenty of imagery when it comes to settings, whether he’s describing the lake where some of the men fish or the bull-fights the group attends in Spain. However, more than half of the book is pure dialogue, which is very short and to the point, and contains a few moments of absolute wisdom.

As a former English major, I can see the changes and contributions Ernest Hemingway made to the American novel. I mean, the man did win a Nobel Prize for Literature after all. And, even though this novel wasn’t my favorite, I think I will come to appreciate it more with the passing of time. I look forward to reading more of Hemingway’s works in the future.

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Have you read either of these books or authors? If so, what did you think? Let us know in the comments!

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