It’s Banned Books Week! First observed in 1982, Banned Books Week aims “to remind Americans not to take this precious democratic freedom for granted.”
Through the years, many books now considered classics have been banned or suggested for banning. Have you read a banned book? You have if you’ve read:
The Catcher in the Rye (Salinger)
Of Mice and Men (Steinbeck)
The Color Purple (Walker)
The Sun Also Rises (Hemingway)
As I Lay Dying (Faulkner)
Slaughterhouse Five (Vonnegut)
The Awakening (Chopin)
In Cold Blood (Capote)
And so many others.
Two of my all-time favorites have been banned at one time:
Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman.
I can’t imagine my life — and my writing life — if I hadn’t read those books and many others that have been banned or suggested for banning through the years. These books, like all books, taught me about people I didn’t know, cultures I’ve not seen, experiences I’ve not had, and life I’ve not lived. They showed me history and struggle and triumph. They revealed truths and reality in many cases. They ultimately showed me humanity. There’s nothing scary or threatening about that.
Even if book banning isn’t as rampant today as it has been in the past, events like Banned Books Week remind us that it has happened and it could happen again.
Read a banned book this week! Read — and think — for yourself. As organizers say, celebrate the freedom to read.