23 September 2014

Thoughts and resolutions surrounding banned books week.

This week, September 21 - 28, 2014 is Banned Books week and with that there are numerous articles, lists, posts, memes, etc. urging us to celebrate the week.   What they really are asking us, as readers, to do, is to become aware and involved in what books are banned and why, and possibly to choose one or more of them and read it this week.  As I was scrolling through all of my Facebook and Twitter posts yesterday, I came across the following article on the BookRiot site that got me to thinking.


Although the author of the post is speaking to the publishing and marketing community, in effect trying to get them to stop taking advantage of Banned Books Week, the post got me thinking in another direction.

First  - it got me to thinking about how it sounds to "celebrate" banned books.  I will be the first to admit that I have no problem with having one week a year dedicated to highlighting the hows and whys of banned books, but I am starting to wonder if the word celebrate is the correct term to use in this context.  Perhaps we should celebrate our personal freedom by reading a banned book during banned books week.  Or rename the week Read a Banned Book week.  I know this is really nit-picky and everyone understands that we are celebrating the week, not the banned books, but it just got me to thinking.  Why give power to the people who are banning the books by even using the phrase "celebrate banned books".

The second stream of thought that the article lead me to was to question why I only seem to pay attention to the banning of books one week a year.  Don't get me wrong, as I said above, I am glad that we have a week to focus on the books that are getting banned.  If it weren't for the ALA and other organizations and their highlighting of banned books once a year,  I may go through my year having this subject never even enter my mind.  It is so easy to become wrapped up in my everyday life and reading, and not even think about it.  So, I am eternally grateful to the entities behind the Banned Books Week for bringing the issue to our collective conscience in general, and my personal radar in particular.  To an avid reader like me, though, banning books for whatever reason is anathema and and issue that I really should be more involved in.  For that reason, I have decided to do challenge myself to do something every week between now and Banned Books Week 2015 that promotes reading freedom.  Although part of it will be reading some of the most commonly banned books, there will be other activities, posts, etc. in addition. although I am not yet sure what form they may take.

One thing I hope to do is to read at least 12 books that have been banned to large audiences in the next year.  I would say I would read one a month, but the way my life goes, I am not sure I can stick to that.  There may be times when I can read two or more in a given month, and times when I won't get to any, so 12 in a year it is!

So - I will count this post as my first action toward my new resolution.  If you, like me, are interested in knowing the wheres, whys, and hows of banned books, here are some websites that I have found particularly interesting regarding the subject.

Banned Books Week website - http://www.bannedbooksweek.org
ALA Frequently Challenged Books list - http://www.ala.org/bbooks/frequentlychallengedbooks/classics
ILA Challenged Books explanations - http://www.ila.org/BannedBooks/ALA016%20Short%20List%20L3c_low%20%281%29.pdf
ALA Top Challenged books by year - http://www.ala.org/bbooks/frequentlychallengedbooks/top10#2013

I hope you enjoy my break from the usual in this post and find some of this informational and interesting. I will be back to reviewing tomorrow.

And as always - Happy Reading!

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