NEW YORK (AP) — Here's a list "Fifty Shades of Grey" was destined to make: The books most likely to be removed from school and library shelves.
On Monday, E L James' multimillion selling erotic trilogy placed No. 4 on the American Library Association's annual study of "challenged books," works subject to complaints from parents, educators and other members of the public. The objections: Offensive language, and, of course, graphic sexual content.
No. 1 was a not a story of the bedroom, but the bathroom, Dav Pilkey's "Captain Underpants" books (Offensive language, unsuited for age group), followed by Sherman Alexie's prize-winning "The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian" (Offensive language, racism, sexually explicit), and Jay Asher's "Thirteen Reasons Why"(Drugs/alcohol/smoking, sexually explicit, suicide). Also on the list, at No. 10, Nobel laureate Toni Morrison's "Beloved" (Sexually explicit, religious viewpoint, violence).
"It's pretty exciting to be on a list that frequently features Mark Twain, Harper Lee, and Maya Angelou," Pilkey said in a statement. "But I worry that some parents might see this list and discourage their kids from reading 'Captain Underpants,' even though they have not had a chance to read the books themselves."
The library association's Office for Intellectual Freedom defines a challenge as a "formal, written complaint filed with a library or school requesting that a book or other material be restricted or removed because of its content or appropriateness." The office received 464 challenges last year, a jump of more 25 percent from 2011, but still low compared to the 1980s and '90s. Exact numbers, including how many books were actually pulled, are hard to calculate. The association has long believed that for every complaint registered, 4-5 go unreported by libraries, and that some librarians may restrict access in anticipation of objections.
"One reason we think the number went up in 2012 is that we made challenges easier to report by including a portal on our Web page," said Barbara M. Jones, director of the OIF.
The challenged books list was included in the library association's annual "State of the Libraries" report which examines how libraries are responding to budget cuts and the financial advice they offer for patrons during hard economic times.
The "Fifty Shades" books were released last spring and public libraries in Georgia, Florida and elsewhere soon pulled the racy romance trilogy or decided not to order the books, saying they were too steamy or too poorly written. Local library representatives at the time denounced the novels as "semi-pornographic" and unfit for "community standards."
But the list also included some works highly regarded in the literary community: Morrison's "Beloved," winner of the Pulitzer Prize; Alexie's novel, a National Book Award winner; and a book club favorite, Khaled Hosseini's "The Kite Runner" (Homosexuality, offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit). Young adult star John Green was on, for "Looking for Alaska" (Offensive language, sexually explicit), along with perennial chart-maker "And Tango Makes Three," by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson, the story of two male penguins who raise a baby penguin. Also on the list were Alvin Schwartz's "Scary Stories" (unsuited for age group) and Jeanette Wells' memoir "The Glass Castle." (Offensive language, sexually explicit).
The "Captain Underpants" books, which Green said he's currently reading to his 3-year-old son, have long been debated among parents and educators. Some praise the books because they encourage boys to read, others criticize them for their toilet humor and irreverent attitude; the title character is a superhero devised by two 4th graders about their grouchy principal, Mr. Krupp.
"I don't see these books as encouraging disrespect for authority. Perhaps they demonstrate the value of questioning authority," Pilkey said. "Some of the authority figures in the Captain Underpants books are villains. They are bullies and they do vicious things."
Pilkey said his characters are based in part on teachers and principals he had between grades 2 and 5 — some of whom were villains who got away with it because they were authority figures.
"None of the children in my school, including me, thought to question them," he said. "So, I do feel there is real value in showing kids that not all authority figures are good or kind or honorable."
Challenged books are a measure of trouble, but also a measure of popularity, whether as a cause or an effect. Some famous entries from recent years have dropped off the top 10, likely a sign of reduced attention overall: J.K. Rowling's "Harry Potter" books, Stephenie Meyer's "Twilight" series, Suzanne Collins' "Hunger Games" trilogy. Jones thinks some publishers "love it when their book is mentioned" because of the attention it receives, while Green agrees that getting on the list "means lots of people are reading your book."
The president of Scholastic's trade division, Ellie Berger, said in a statement that the "appearance of Captain Underpants on the 2012 ALA list coincides with the publication of Dav Pilkey's first new 'Captain Underpants' book in six years and the series' return to national bestseller lists — both of which are evidence that this longtime bestselling series continues to inspire a love of reading (and underpants) for a new generation of kids."
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Former U.S. Rep. Charlie Wilson, a Democrat who represented eastern Ohio in Washington for two terms after winning a write-in campaign, died Sunday in a Florida hospital, the Ohio Democratic Party announced. He was 70.
Wilson had suffered a stroke in February while vacationing with his family and was recovering at a rehabilitation center, Democratic Party officials said. He fell ill Saturday night and was admitted to a hospital in Boynton Beach, where he died at about 2:30 p.m. Sunday with his family by his side, the officials said.
Wilson spent 14 years in Columbus and Washington championing for the people of eastern and southeastern Ohio. He secured federal funding for police departments, airport improvements and small business incubators, among other project.
Before being elected to Congress, Wilson served in the Ohio House of Representatives from 1997 to 2005. He then served two years in the Ohio Senate.
"I served with Charlie in the State Legislature for six years and he was a loyal friend in good times and bad," Ohio Democratic Chairman Chris Redfern said in a statement. "An outspoken advocate for working people, Charlie never wavered in his service to his constituents or his lifelong pursuit to help improve the lives of others."
Wilson won his first congressional campaign in 2006 as a write-in candidate, filling the seat vacated by Gov. Ted Strickland. He had failed to gather enough petition signatures to qualify for the state's primary, requiring him to run as a write-in for the 6th Congressional District stretching from Youngstown's southern suburbs to the tip of the Ohio River near Portsmouth.
Wilson, who represented a coal-heavy district, served on the House Committee on Science and Technology.
He lost bids for Congress in 2010 and 2012.
U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson, R-Ohio, who defeated Wilson in 2012, said he was saddened to hear of his death and expressed condolences to his family.
"Although Charlie and I were political opponents, we were never enemies. He served with honor in the Ohio state legislature and in Congress," Johnson said in a statement.
Before entering public service, Wilson was owner of several small businesses throughout the Ohio Valley. He attended Ohio University in Athens and while still in college, worked as a UAW member on the assembly line at the Ford Automotive auto plant in Lorain.
Wilson is survived by four sons, one of whom served as his campaign manager in the 2006 race and went on to succeed him in the Ohio Senate.
"Throughout his extraordinary life, Congressman Wilson was motivated by a desire to serve his country and a passion for the causes most important to the constituents of Southeast and East Ohio," his family said in a statement. "Congressman Wilson served with honor, dignity and an unwavering sense of civic responsibility to the families of our region. Charlie will be remembered for his boundless energy, his honest approach, and his dedication to improving the lives of our future generations."
Funeral arrangements were incomplete.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Sen. Marco Rubio says a proposed immigration bill expected to be introduced this week won't offer amnesty to those who entered the U.S. illegally.
The Florida Republican, who appeared on five news shows Sunday, says "there will be consequences for having violated the laws."
Rubio's proposal would require people to pass a "rigorous background check" and pay fines and application fees to receive a permit that would allow them to "work, travel and pay taxes." After 10 years they would be able to apply for legal immigration status and an eventual path to citizenship.
Under the proposal, the applicants would not be eligible for any federal benefits such as health care.