30 September 2012

Banned Books Week

Banned Books Week began today, September 30. This week celebrates literature that has been challenged and/or banned (usually in school districts). It's a week to draw attention to the great stories that people all over the country--and world--try to silence.

To remember that censorship is never okay.

Yes, banning books is a form of censorship. Taking stories away and hiding them from readers, pulling them off library shelves, says that it's okay that some people's stories should not be shared. That certain people should have the power to decide what should and should not be read.

I could spend a great deal of time and space talking about censorship and why everyone has the right to be heard. And I will spend time talking about censorship and the dangers of silencing voices in our society. But first I want to challenge you to find a challenged/banned book and read it this week. Take a little time every day to fight censorship by choosing to read a book others have tried to hide from readers. There are many lists available here.

I will be reading a banned book this week. And seeing all the books that have been challenged and/or banned even in the last few years has prompted me to take on a challenge for my reading next year. I'll be attempting the 100+ Books in a Year Reading Challenge again next year, and I've decided to further challenge myself to make at least half of the books I read next year to be challenged/banned books.

Harry Potter and Huckleberry Finn are not the only books that have been challenged or banned in recent years. In fact, you might be surprised by some of the titles that are on the lists.

Please read a banned book this week. Give voice to these authors. Let them know that their words matter.

Happy (and banned) reading!


  1. Nicole, I posted this on Face Book yesterdy and I thought you in particular might enjoy it. One of the lines was inspired by your own blog!

    I like reading a real book, and I have thousands of them to read. I like the smell of a new book. I like the creases and dog eared pages of an old book. I like books with coffee stains on them. To me, these things are the comforting remainder of the person who shared the same journey I am taking.

    So far, I've moved my growing library from house to house 5 times, and it hasn't been easy. Packing box after box with thousands of books is hard work - not to mention lugging them in and out of trucks, up and down stairs, building new shelves and sorting them out. But never, never, as the poet said, "...even if the sun burns out!", would I ever think of leaving my friends behind.

    I have lots of valuable books - rare old books, first editions and such. But to me, the value of a book is what is in it, not where, when, or how many times it was made. One of my favorite books is a collection of poems by Welsh poet R.S. Thomas, which I bought in a second hand bookstore for 50 cents.

    As I write this, I'm surrounded by books of every sort. Three of them are Christian bibles, one is the Quran, one is the I Ching, one is the collected works of Chuang Tzu, one is "Wholeness and The Implicate Order", by the brilliant, troubled physicist, David Bohm. Near all of them is "Jade Mountain", a compendium of poems from the T'ang Dynasty. In it, this poem:

    "While I watch the moon go down, a crow caws through the frost;
    Under the shadows of maple trees, a fisherman moves with his torch;
    And I hear, from beyond Su-chou, from the temple on Cold Mountain,
    Ringing for me, here in my boat, the midnight bell."

    Which of these books, I wonder, truly exposes the meaning of life and the part each of us has to play in it? If you will, that is the greatest of all false questions. In the end, life doesn't require us to assert the truth of one by denying the inspirations of all others. That's why we write.

    Peace! -Chris

  2. Thank you so much for sharing! I wish more people were as connected to books as people like you and me!


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