Even though there’s plenty of summertime left, the new school year will be here before you know it. In anticipation of late nights spent shifting between procrastinating and studying, we’ve chosen books that may not be found on your book list. In fact, they’re on a whole different list – the banned book list. But first, how do books get banned?
According to Pen America, local citizens and advocacy groups lobby to label certain books as “harmful” and “explicit,” which leads to them being banned in various school districts. During the 2022-2023 school year, more books were banned than in the previous year, and the banning of books continues to escalate as the vocal parties demand censorship over topics like race, gender, American history, and LGBTQIA+ identities. By restricting these topics from being explored, there’s a limitation to students' freedom to read, learn, and think.
For this month’s #GGBookClub, we chose books that have been on the banned book list for decades, as well as newer books that have joined them on the list, and paired them with fantastic wines that vibe similarly in spirit.
The second most banned book in 2021, prominent journalist and LGBTQIA+ activist George M. Johnson explores his childhood, adolescence, and college years in New Jersey and Virginia through a series of personal essays. From memories of getting his teeth kicked out by bullies at age five, to flea marketing with his loving grandmother, to his first sexual relationships, All Boys Aren’t Blue weaves together the trials and triumphs faced by Black queer boys. An emotionally-driven book that covers topics like gender identity, toxic masculinity, and structural marginalization among other things, this book pairs well with the Fratelli Alessandria Pelaverga Speziale 2022, a wine full of complexity while still being light-bodied and juicy. This red wine can be enjoyed with a slight chill, and boasts enticing notes of pink peppercorns, wild strawberries, dried roses, and spice.
A book that’s been banned in various schools over the last 40 years, Judy Blume’s groundbreaking novel about teen sexuality explores whether there’s a difference between first love and true love. Katherine and Michael are in love, and Katherine knows it’s forever–especially after she loses her virginity to him. But when they’re separated for the summer, she begins to have feelings for another boy. What does this say about her love for Michael? And what does “forever” mean, anyway? Is this the love of a lifetime, or the very beginning of a lifetime of love? Delicate and organic, this rose is reminiscent of being in love for the first time, with floral aromas and notes of currant, cherry, and wild strawberry.
Since its debut in 1970, Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye has found itself on the banned book list almost every year, with about 32 bans within the 2021-2022 school year. In Morrison’s acclaimed first novel, Pecola Breedlove—an 11-year-old Black girl in an America whose love for its blond, blue-eyed children can devastate all others—prays for her eyes to turn blue: so that she will be beautiful, so that people will look at her, so that her world will be different. This is the story of the nightmare at the heart of her yearning, and the tragedy of its fulfillment. A book this controversial deserves to be read with care, just like the Materia Pet Nat should be savored. A Spanish sparkling orange wine that offers notes of citrus, quince, white pear, and apricot.
A book that has the power to create change, it’s no wonder that Angie Thomas’ The Hate U Give has been on the banned book list since 2018, with a total of 24 bans. This book is about sixteen-year-old Starr Carter who moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil, who was unarmed, at the hands of a police officer. Soon afterward, his death becomes a national headline, leading everyone to wonder, what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr. A wine that tells the story of Napa and Sonoma’s remarkable wine heritage in every glass, RouteStock Chardonnay is a delightful white wine with notes of orchard fruit, sweet herbs, and hazelnut flowers.