Written by on September 18, 2012

It’s the end of the world as we know it (episode 1)

(Cue Michael Stipe singing “blahdeeblahblahblahLeonardBurnstein!”)

This is episode 1 of 12.

In Episode 1 “It’s the End of the World As We Know It,” Kristen and I discuss books on ALA’s Top 100 Banned and Challenged Books of 2000-2009 that have dystopic themes.  This was one of my favorite categories, if only because it lets my morbid imagination run amok in worlds where social and political oppression reign and our hero is all that stands between the brutal machine of tyranny and a fragile wisp of hope, a.k.a. a child, a book, an idea, or something else equally inspirational.

One of the reasons cited for challenging these books was the theme of hopelessness that characterizes the dystopian landscape.  This begs the question, what do we find so threatening about the idea of hopelessness that we would be willing to prevent others from reading books that discuss it?

We’d love to hear from you!  Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

This podcast is just one of eight radical things Kennedy Library is doing to celebrate Banned Books Week, including an interactive infographic!  When you’re done sharing your thoughts, revel in the awesomeness at Kennedy Library’s Banned Books Week hub.

–Michele Wyngard

Books we discuss:

  • Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, #69 on the Top 100 Banned and Challenged Books of the last decade
  • Brave New World  by Aldous Huxley, #36
  • The Giver by Lois Lowry, #23
  • The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, #88


Honorable mentions (a.k.a. books that fit this category but we didn’t have time to discuss):

  • Shades Children by Garth Nix, #95


To learn more about what we discussed, check out these websites:

Ray Bradbury’s official web site http://www.raybradbury.com

Interviews with Aldous Huxley http://www.huxley.net/ah/huxley-interview.html

Lois Lowry’s official web site http://www.loislowry.com/

Margaret Atwood’s official web site http://www.margaretatwood.ca/

and these ridiculously informative books:

Doyle, R.P. (2010). Banned books: Challenging our freedom to read. Chicago, IL: American Library Association.

Foerstel, H.N. (2002). Banned in the U.S.A: A reference guide to book censorship in schools and public libraries. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.

Karolides, N.J. (2005). 120 banned books: Censorship histories of world literature. New York, NY: Checkmark Books/Facts on File.


This podcast series, I’m with the Banned features personal conversations between Michele and Kristen, a reflection of their year of reading and research. They, like the Kennedy Library, hope you are inspired to have your own conversations to explore ideas around these complex topics.

Read more on ALA, american library association, banned books, banned books week 2012, cal poly, dystopia, freedom to read, i'm with the banned, kennedy library, and podcast.

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