When the American Library Association announced the most “frequently challenged books of 2015,” John Green’s Looking for Alaska was at the top of the list. (A challenge is “an attempt to remove or restrict materials based upon the objections of a person or group.”) Citing “offensive language” and “sexually explicit” scenes that were supposedly not “age appropriate” for teens, numerous people attempted to have the book removed and/or banned from various schools and libraries around the country.
Now Green, who is perhaps best known for his book The Fault in Our Stars, as well as his several vlogging ventures, has taken to YouTube to defend his work.
“Text is meaningless without context,” Green said in a video posted to his vlogbrothers YouTube channel. “What usually happens…is that a parent shows one particular page of the novel to an administrator, and then the book gets banned without anyone who objects to it having read more than that one particular page.”
Green went on to defend a particular passage in the book involving awkward oral sex, claiming it was meant to show that emotionally empty sex is ultimately unfulfilling, an opinion many of the people attempting to ban his book would likely share. He also claimed to be honored to have made a list that contains some of his favorite books, including The Bible, which came in sixth.
The complete list of the ten most challenged books of 2015:
- Looking for Alaska, by John Green
- Fifty Shades of Grey, by E. L. James
- I Am Jazz, by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings
- Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out, by Susan Kuklin
- The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, by Mark Haddon
- The Holy Bible
- Fun Home, by Alison Bechdel
- Habibi, by Craig Thompson
- Nasreen’s Secret School: A True Story from Afghanistan, by Jeanette Winter
- Two Boys Kissing, by David Levithan