Banned Book Week

It’s that time of year again.  This week, Sept. 24-Oct. 1, is Banned Book Week.

“But wait… we live in America.  Books aren’t banned here!” you might think.

Well, check out the following figures from the American Library Association describing data from 2001-2010.

Over the past ten years, American libraries were faced with 4,660 challenges.

  • 1,536 challenges due to “sexually explicit” material;
  • 1,231 challenges due to “offensive language”;
  • 977 challenges due to material deemed “unsuited to age group”;
  • 553 challenges due to “violence”
  • 370 challenges due to “homosexuality”; and

Further, 121 materials were challenged because they were “anti-family,” and an additional 304 were challenged because of their “religious viewpoints.”

What books are these, one might wonder?  Here’s a list of the top hundred books banned or challenged from 2000-2009.  At the top of the list, we see J. K. Rowling’s “Harry Potter” series.  We also see John Steinbeck, Maya Angelou, and Mark Twain — literary classics!

To quote Bertrand Russell,

Men fear thought as they fear nothing else on earth, more than ruin, more even than death.  Thought is subversive and revolutionary, destructive and terrible, thought is merciless to privilege, established institutions, and comfortable habit.  Thought looks into the pit of hell and is not afraid.  Thought is great and swift and free, the light of the world, and the chief glory of man.

Intellectual freedom is necessary in preserving a free society.  It was the ability to challenge the status quo that lead to advances throughout American history, such as establishing women’s rights and abolishing slavery.  By supporting the freedom to read, one supports the right to think, to speak, and to believe, as outlined in the First Amendment.

So, as we come to Banned Book Week, think about what it means to be able to read what one chooses.  Read a banned or challenged novel.  Help guarantee that freedom of information is valued in our society.

15 thoughts on “Banned Book Week

  1. huzzah to that. i can’t tolerate ignorance. i can agree to amiably disagree with pretty much everyone, so long as they’re willing to analyze their own ideas. but the problem is that people that try and destroy our freedoms don’t want to analyze. its the analysis of their own ideas that terrifies them. although, supposedly people fear public speaking more than anything else.

    1. I used to be in debate back in the day, so I had to get over the fear of public speaking pretty quickly…

      I agree with you completely on analyzing ideas. Beliefs don’t mean much if they can’t stand up to any sort of personal scrutiny. It also bothers me when people support limiting access to specific books without actually having read them.

  2. It’s amazing what books people want to ban. I’m also highlighting different banned books. In my opinion, if someone wants to ban a book then it’s a book I’d like to read. Good information

    1. I know, because Mein Kampf is a great read. Funny how that book is banned from what it’s author did to books.

      Also I have fully read that book before people ask.

      1. I was referring largely to novels, but even books like Mein Kampf (which is not banned) have a place in academia, especially in the field of political psychology. If we don’t understand history, we become doomed to repeat it.

  3. We put up a small display at the school library where i work of some ‘banned or challenged books’, some of which they have already read or are required reading in our school, with a little sign explaining Banned Books Weeks. It has been interesting to hear what the kids (middle school) have to say about it.

    1. Awesome. It would be cool to hear what they’d have to say, especially since a lot of the time it’s middle school level books that get challenged. I still remember being told that reading Harry Potter would make me go to hell… 😛

  4. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest is a good book, I have no idea why it’s listed as banned.

    Brave New World was banned for it’s use of sex. Many of my books would be banned even if they aren’t, yet.

      1. Sorry for the late response. They banned Call of the Wild, yet no reason is given to why. Is it for Jack London being a socialists?

        1. No idea… it’s individual libraries/schools that do the banning, generally in response to complaints from parents about the content of a book.

  5. I’m blogging about what book awards mean (I mean really, have you ever noticed how many books/authors are “award winning”) and I counted inclusion on the Banned Books list as an award. If you’ve written something that made someone THAT mad and inspired THAT kind of fear, you’ve accomplished something and made our society grow, IMHO. 🙂

    1. Indeed. I love books that are able to shake things up and make people challenge preconceived ideas or perceptions. It’s one of the greatest things about literature.

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