Season 1, Episode 10

Book Burning Bonanza

What makes a book bannable? And what impact do all of these cries for censoring books actually have?

About This Episode

Listen, folks, I can’t talk about COVID every week. It’s exhausting. It’s demoralizing.

Instead, let’s talk about…book banning! (much more uplifting, yes?)

Every year, the American Library Association publishes a list of the top most challenged books in school and public libraries. These are the books you hear mentioned in hushed whispers, the ones with rumors of sexual content and gays and lesbians and profanities and atheism and other things that some segments of the population find offensive. Maybe it’s an older book that has the N word, or maybe it’s…well, maybe it’s Captain Underpants! Do you have an elementary school-aged child that’s introduced you to Captain Underpants? Well, I do. Apparently the good captain is the 5th-most-complained-about book in our schools and libraries. It is “unsuited to an age group,” so the complaints say.

This episode explores the “worst” books of the past 20 years. (For convenience, all of that data is also compiled on a new dashboard — complete with Amazon links if you’d like to have some forbidden fruit.)

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