Do you love a banned book?

source: ALA

It’s shocking. It’s scandalous. But I love a banned book. In fact, as I discovered recently, I love many books that have either been banned or challenged from libraries for being “too political”, “anti-religious” or “too sexy”.

And these are not x-rated books. These are classics:

Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
The Awakening by Kate Chopin
The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L Frank Baum

These wonderful books have touched my life in profound ways over the years. But someone, somewhere, decided that they contain objectionable ideas–so objectionable that you and I and our children shouldn’t be able to read them.

Over the past fifty years, the American Library Association reports that more than 11,300 books have been challenged or banned from libraries and schools in the United States alone.

But the good news is:

“While books have been and continue to be banned…in a majority of cases, the books have remained available. This happens only thanks to the efforts of librarians, teachers, students, and community members who stand up and speak out for the freedom to read.” ~American Library Association

During Banned Books Week (September 30-October 6, 2012) book lovers are invited to take part in a “read-out” — which is to read from a banned or challenged book.

Here is a great “read-out” by the staff at Bookmans, an Arizona bookstore:

For my part, this week, I am going to quote some of my favourite banned/challenged books.

I can’t wait to dig in and share some of my favourite passages and images from my most beloved banned books!

What banned books do you love?

Dorothy meets the Cowardly Lion, from The Wond...
Dorothy meets the Cowardly Lion, from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz first edition. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For more information about Banned Books Week and banned books:

Banned Books Week was launched in 1982 by the American Library Association and other book-loving organizations in response to a sudden surge in the number of challenges to books in schools, bookstores and libraries.

  • The American Library Association keeps track of banned/challenged books–and has produced this interesting list of most challenged classics.
  • Banned Books in the United Kingdom has produced this list of affected books.
  • The Canadian Library Association has produced this list of banned books/magazines in Canada and promotes Freedom to Read week, February 24-March 2, 2013.
  • Banned Books Awareness is a “worldwide literacy project to celebrate the freedom to read.” This interesting blog features books that are banned/challenged around the world.

11 comments

  1. We don’t have an equivalent event in the UK possibly because whenever someone has tried to ban a book (think ‘Lady Chatterly’) not only have they been laughed out of court, but the sales of the book in question have gone through the roof. There were some schools that attempted to ban ‘Harry Potter’ but the outcry was such that they backed off pretty quickly. I’m not certain whether this is a good or a bad thing. Certainly, I have no truck with the notion of banning books, but does it mean that as a nation we have little understanding of just how incendiary the written word can be?

    • Interesting! And it is surprising the number of books that are regularly challenged in “freedom-loving” America and here in Canada. I am personally very interested in the incendiary nature of the written word…it’s something I mull over a lot…there are some words I hate, and won’t use, but does that mean others shouldn’t use them? Are there some words and ideas that are so offensive, society has the right to ban them (especially if they promote hatred and violence)? And who decides? So interesting.

    • Thanks! It’s so true what you say about taking freedom of speech for granted. North Americans are very lucky…while books are definitely challenged here, it’s rare to see one out-and-out banned…and I love to see the debate around this issue.
      (your book looks fascinating by the way!)

  2. Awesome posts. It is ludacris as for the reasons why certain books got banned but given the times and circumstances certain books were banned, I would think they did not know better…

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