“The Perks of Being a Wallflower” author Stephen Chbosky is coming to campus next Friday for a Q&A session and book signing in honor of Banned Books Week.
Banned Books Week is an American Library Association sponsored event. Library Academic Services employee Kristen Thorp has been working to raise awareness about the week for the sake of our independence in reading books.
“It is to give awareness to the fact that books are challenged in libraries and schools all over America,” Thorp said. “Libraries and booksellers try to stop those challenges so that people can choose the books that are right for them.”
Chbosky was asked to come to campus because he is one of the most challenged authors, Thorp said.
“This book is being challenged for themes of homosexuality,” Thorp said. “One of the main characters, Patrick is an openly gay student. Charlie, the main character, does acid, the characters drink, and so it’s being challenged for drug use and alcohol use. Like any teenage experience there is coming to terms with your own sexuality and experiencing that for the first time. Charlie gets his first kiss in the book.”
“With the exception of last year, he has been on the top 10 banned authors every year since his book was published,” Thorp said.
More than 11,300 books have been challenged since 1982, according to the official Banned Books Week website. Libraries, community members and parents will all stand up next week to prevent these books from being completely banned.
Some of the most popular books that have been banned in certain locations across the country are “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,” “The Catcher in the Rye,” “To Kill a Mockingbird,” “The Lord of the Flies” and even the Harry Potter series, according to About.com.
Business administration sophomore Nicole Korn expressed her feelings on why “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” should never be placed on the banned list.
“It really is an amazing book with so much depth and detail and emotion that every teen should read,” Korn said. “I remember reading it in freshman year of high school, absolutely falling in love with the characters, learning so much about myself and the high school times I had ahead of me.”
Aerospace engineering freshman Daniel Fugett said he thinks people should be able to practice free speech and free press no matter what.
“If someone has a problem with that, then sucks for you,” Fugett said. “People get offended too easily. If you don’t let books offend you, then they won’t.”
It’s important that people read what’s right for them, and nobody has to read anything they don’t want to read, Thorp said.
“We also don’t have to prevent others from reading it,” Thorp said.
In a recent podcast interview Cal Poly Librarians had with Chbosky, he reiterated the importance of choosing what’s right for us.
“Being raised Catholic, I understand and respect some of the objections that people have for their child,” Chbosky said. “Let’s say a family just says I don’t want my kid to read this book in school. Good. Then don’t. Find an alternate. Just don’t tell your neighbor how to live their lives. That’s where I kind of stand on it.”
Chbosky’s deeply beloved book was recently made into a movie that released Sept. 21.
“Movies are incredibly collaborative, which is exciting because you’re working with all these incredible artists like Emma Watson and Ezra Miller and all the producers,” Chbosky said. “Everyone contributes. But it’s much harder to do it because it’s trying to bring everyone into your vision. And you’re always trying to articulate what it is you’re trying to do. In the end I learned that I love both of them equally and will continue to do as such.”
Robert E. Kennedy Library is celebrating Banned Books Week with several more features, including podcasts with other various authors, a banned books exhibit on the second floor, T-shirts that say “I’m with the banned” and an interactive website to learn more about the cause, according to the library’s website.
Chbosky’s Q&A will be held in Chumash Auditorium on Oct. 5 at 4 p.m. Admission is free.