Blacklisted Banned Books Club celebrates the controversial

Each semester, the club dives into a new “banned book.”

Libraries and classrooms across the country have had a storied history of banning books from their shelves.

The American Library Association[] catalogs a growing list of classics that have been banned or challenged, with censors employing brilliant justifications, including Anne Frank’s “The Diary of a Young Girl” as being “too depressing” or E. B. White’s “Charlotte’s Web” as being “blasphemous” for its talking animals.

Members of the Blacklisted Banned Books Club choose to overlook such historic justifications and delve into the stories about which they’re made.

Each semester since 2011, the club has selected one of these books to read in-depth based on a vote by the membership.

Vice president Cody Anno, junior in psychology, said Blacklisted members have advertised the club to potential newcomers in a variety of ways over the years.

These have included reading books in Speakers Circle during Banned Books Week in September to participating in involvement fairs, beginning her sophomore year.

“When I joined, there were around 10 members in the group,” Anno said. “At the time, we liked it small, since it was easier to talk and make deeper points when there were fewer faces and voices all trying to make a comment. Since then, we’ve grown with the use of involvement fairs, which we didn’t do my first year as a member.”

Secretary Lela Rice, a sophomore, said she enjoys Blacklisted’s weekly meetings because of how quickly its members can shift from deep discussions of literature to comedic banter.

“Our meetings are the highlight of my week,” Rice said. “We can go from laughing and joking to intense intellectual discussion in no time flat. I would say most books get banned for introducing really controversial topics, which tends to leave us with a lot of really interesting ideas to consider and discuss.”

“Our discussion ranges far and wide,” said president Audrey Sanders, junior in history. “It’s very participant-driven. Some days, we talk all about books, some days, we talk about current events, societal themes or whatever else comes to mind.”

Freshman and Maneater staff writer Wendy Hayworth stressed that the “Harry Potter” series was a driving factor behind her love of extracurricular reading, a recurring sentiment many Blacklisted members share.

“We are the ‘Harry Potter’ generation,” Hayworth said. “Not only did we grow up reading the books, we grew up with the characters. To say it was more than a series is an understatement. It would be no exaggeration to say ‘Harry Potter’ is the main reason I fell in love with books in the first place.”

Sanders echoed Hayworth’s love of the “Potter” series.

She said her desire to read banned books intensified upon learning that J.K. Rowling’s beloved teenage wizard had been expelled from various libraries for “teaching children that black magic is OK.”

Hayworth said Blacklisted functions as a second family to her, as well as a support system during difficult times.

“In many ways, this club is my family away from home,” Hayworth said. “I know these people will have my back. I know I plan to stay in the club as long as I’m here. I always found an escape in reading when I was young. It’s kind of ridiculous why some books were banned, so reading a banned book is a passive-aggressive way to get back at the people who banned them. Of course, there are also some very interesting things to talk about when it comes to the books as well.”

Sanders said that although the average college student might not enjoy reading as a hobby, she has a tried-and-true response to such individuals: They just haven’t found the right book.

“I think almost anyone who loves reading now can point to the book that made them love it, and for some people it was much more recent than it was for others,” Sanders said. “In Blacklisted, we’ve all found the right book, and we continue to challenge our and others’ conception of ‘the right book’ so that people always have the opportunity to find one that works for them.”

Sophomore Abigail Kinghorn said she hopes Blacklisted will be able to continue its outreach in the future.

“I hope we can do more with the library as well as during Banned Books Week,” Kinghorn said. “I think getting other people into reading is pretty big for all of us.”

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