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The True Story of How Books Ruined Our Lives

The FYAers, like, totally review banned books from the 1990s, which are such grody influences. NOT!

The True Story of How Books Ruined Our Lives

What's up, Betties and Baldwins? We here at FYA are, like, totally excited about Banned Book Week (and totally excited about drinking our way through Banned Book Week, obvs)!!

Today, we thought we'd share with you all the trauma, pain and horror that we endured while we were actually Young Adults by discussing the horrible impact that several of the top banned books of the 1990s had on us. I'll be honest, folks; it hasn't been easy revisiting this dark time in our past. Oh, if only some overly concerned helicoptor parent had been looking out for all of the children in our country! Then we never would have had to suffer the indignities brought on by these trashy, trashy books!

We just hope that, by sharing these dark tales of our own literature-abated miscreance, we've saved someother poor child who doesn't understand how to think for themselves! And if you, gentle readers, have stories of equal horror, we want to hear them! Please, purge your soul, confess to the sins that books made you commit! We're here for you!

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

Having read Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain at an early age, I was undoubtedly impressionable. But I don't think I'm the only one who, influenced by this book, now has a penchant for sailing down the Mississippi on a wooden raft with an African American man. My daddy used to get so peeved at me when I'd pretend he was drunk and beating on me, and lock myself in my room, just so I could escape. And the old ladies in my mom's church never seemed to understand when I'd show up at their homes, 'dressed as a girl', looking for information. The two families on either side of us also didn't seem to get my references to their feud, or the impending nuptials between their eldest, but that didn't stop me, 'cause I'm a river king. - Jenny

The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood

After I read The Handmaid's Tale for the first time, I immediately set out to have an affair. But that wasn't enough; I seduced a man away from his wife and married him. And then my bank account was turned over to my husband, but that was actually fine, because I'm a girl and shouldn't be worrying my head over finances anway. And then my husband and daughter did a runner for the border, and I was captured, and then I was forced to go help old, rich white people have babies by lying on the wife while the husband has perfunctory missionary sex with me. Then I had an affair with a chauffeur. Mostly, however, I spent a lot of my time thinking about sex or my place in the world, which was obviously very shocking for a sixteen year old, because before the moment I read The Handmaid's Tale, I'd never wondered at all about my changing body or role in society. - Erin

Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson

I can completely see why concerned citizens seek to ban Bridge to Terabithia. After reading it at age 8, I immediately set out to befriend some lesbians, even though I wasn't entirely sure what lesbians were. Then, my lesbian friends and I decided to build a secret land in the woods so that we could practice both our Satanism and our witchcraft, in which we were growing quite advanced. (I could call the four corners while most other kids were learning how to ride their bikes!) Unfortunately, we lived in the suburbs, so instead we just burned down one of the neighbor's houses, and played in the rubble. But it was all too ideal, so I decided to kill off some of my lesbian friends with head injuries, just to live more like the book. This worked like a charm and it was the best summer ever! Of course, several of the lesbians' friends, neighbors and family members were distraught with grief, and didn't understand why bad things happen to good people, so I tried to loan them Bridge to Terabithia so that they could understand that sometimes, shit just happens, and there's nothing we can do but try to pick up and move on, but it had been banned. Hopefully they've worked it out after years of therapy, though! - Erin

Forever by Judy Blume

When I read Forever, the first thing i could think of to do was run out and lose my virginity. Too bad I was 28 and had been married for 5 years when I read it, but luckily people have invented the concept of being a born-again virgin. I'm sure it's for people like me who read Forever too late. But more than having lots and lots of secks, the book really made me get proactive about talking to the folks at Planned Parenthood. I now have stacks of their brochures and hand them out with free condies to everyone I see, and I'm on the pill, the patch, the ring and the shot. Mr T won't be getting a sibling anytime soon! - Meghan

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

Reading Of Mice and Men undoubtedly ruined me for life. Not content with my fairly care-free upbringing during a booming economy, I immediately left home to make my way across America, doing odd jobs and dreaming of living off the fat o' the land. But willfully casting myself into poverty just wasn't enough for me, oh no! I began to crush all the tiny vermin I could find, using only my hands! But my appetite for destruction and hard manual labor couldn't be sated! It all spiraled out of control when I choked a woman to death and then my best friend shot me in the head. Oh! If only I could go back in time and live my life over again in the innocence of not being sympathetic towards the outcasts in life! I'd be so much more godly! - Erin

Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret by Judy Blume

Okay, this one is actually completely true. I, like every other girl who read AYTG, IMM, practiced the "We must, we must, we must increase our bust" exercise. And now my tits are freakin' huge. So THANKS A LOT, Judy Blume; I'm blaming you when my back hurts from now on. - Erin

The Face On the Milk Carton by Caroline B. Cooney

Thank GOD I got my hands on this book, otherwise I never would've figured out that I was kidnapped at age three and therefore have every right to question my parents' authority. Now when they ask me to come home by curfew or do my chores, I just scream, "YOU'RE NOT MY REAL PARENTS!" and run off to kiss my boyfriend on the lips REALLY HARD. I told him that one day, we can be just like Janie and Reeve and go to a cheap motel and then leave before we even walk into our room because I'm too emotionally devastated by my kidnapping to even think about sex. I mean, isn't that ROMANTIC? I can't wait until we get married and have two girls, who I'm totes gonna name Denim and Lace (thanks for the inspiration, Caroline!). And honestly, I don't get why my parents, I mean, my KIDNAPPERS, are so against this book, because it taught me a really important lesson: stay away from Hare Krishnas!!! Otherwise they will brainwash you into joining their cult and hanging out at airports wearing totally unflattering yellow robes. You better believe I'm not letting those "scary people" near my Denim and Lace! - Poshdeluxe

Where's Waldo? by Martin Hanford 

Oh, sure, you think I'm kidding, don't you? "Why would anyone ban Where's Waldo?," you ask. "It's a stupid visual exercise with a guy wearing a stripey red and white shirt! Well, okay, why would anyone other than Manchester City fans ban Where's Waldo?" Well, I'm here to tell you that Where's Waldo? RUINED MY LIFE. Do you guys even KNOW what's in a Where's Waldo? book? Well, I'll tell you! Drawings of people! Tons of people! Short people, tall people, fat people, skinny people, brown people, peach people, people who read books, people who eat sandwiches, people who kiss each other, people who wear red dresses and a big hat, people who don't wear much at all, people who like sports, people who go to the zoo, PEOPLE EVERYWHERE. Christ on a cracker, it's almost as if this entire world is peopled by people doing peopley things with other people. WELL I WON'T STAND FOR IT. I'm not letting my kid look at a book with pictures of people in it! She may want to talk to one of them someday! - Erin

Summer of My German Soldier by Bette Greene

Well, after I read Bette Greene's Summer of my German Soldier, I started hiding escaped cons in my family's barn and even ran off with one. Of course, since I was only 14 we didn't have dirty dirty secks but I sure thought about it a lot. It also made me simultaneously deny my Jewish roots while offending people with my Jewishness (and I'm not even Jewish!). And the exposure to that Nazi history suddenly gave me a strange desire to burn some books ... - Meghan

The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton

Boy, do I get why S.E. Hinton's The Outsiders was banned! This book caused me to join a gang, y'all (much like watching West Side Story did, except without all the finger snapping). I started carrying around a switchblade with me, just in case, and don't you know, that case happened? I was playing on the swingset outside my house when my mortal enemy and fellow home-schooler showed up to taunt me, but I totally pulled a Johnny Cade on his ass. Then I had to run away for a while with some cute boys and read a lot of poetry, but it all turned out alright, I guess. I got in some pretty big trouble, but learned my lesson. The book still has its affect on me though (no I'm NOT still putting grease in my hair, geez!). But my next tattoo is going to be this: Stay Gold.

For real. - Jenny

Erin Callahan's photo About the Author: Erin is loud, foul-mouthed, an unrepentant lover of trashy movies and believes that champagne should be an every day drink. When she isn't drowning in a sea of engineers for whom Dilbert is still uproariously funny, she's writing about books, tv, the cult of VC Andrews and more.