By Carolyn Quimby | @CarolynQuimby, @WornBookSmell
It’s the last week in September, so you know what that means: it’s Banned Book Week!
It’s time for you to read all the seedy novels that were removed from your middle school’s already underwhelming library. If you don’t already know, there are two ways to read a banned book:
1. Wearing all black clothes, opaque sunglasses, and a hat or wig to render yourself unrecognizable. Next, find a mildly-busy coffee shop and tuck yourself into the darkest corner there. Pull out your banned book (which you’ve dressed in a different book jacket) and get reading. Should anyone get to close, leave the book, and run for your life. You’ve been spotted and it’s only a matter of time before they find you.
2. Shout the book you’re reading from the rooftops. Dress it up in glitter and gold and raving reviews and glowing recommendations. Share your thoughts on Facebook and Twitter and your blog. Tell everyone what you’re reading and why you’re reading it. You can still wear black and read in coffee shops, but don’t hide it. Don’t censor what you’re reading from the world. Books are important and books that people try to get rid of are often most important of all.
I don’t know about you, but I choose number 2.
For those of you who have never heard of Banned Books Week, it’s an annual event that celebrates “the freedom to read” as well as the expression and sharing of ideas and information. Banned Books Week celebrates books that have been challenged either in schools, bookstores, and libraries for their content or language. Since its launch in 1982, more than 11,300 books have been challenged (according to the American Library Association).
Some of the most commonly banned “”classics” include The Great Gatsby, The Catcher in the Rye, To Kill Mockingbird, 1984, Ulysses, The Sun Also Rises, and The Grapes of Wrath. While some of the most challenged and/or banned of 2013-2014 were Captain Underpants series, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Looking for Alaska, Fifty Shades of Grey, and Persepolis: A Story of Childhood.
1. Lolita by Vladmir Nabokov
2. Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
3. Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison
4. Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
5. The Awakening by Kate Chopin
6. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
7. Harry Potter (series) by J.K. Rowling
8. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Having already read a few of these, I’m going to start Lolita because it’s been at the top of my to-read list for years. It’s a perfect time to start the novel because it’s one of the most censored and banned books of all time. Even 59 years after it’s publication, the novel continues to make waves within the literary community.
Happy Banned Books Week, TWBS readers! Choose a book that makes a stir, a book that makes a scene, a book that refuses to be censored. Support the freedom of reading by choosing a banned book this week and every other week!
* * *
How are you celebrating Banned Books Week? Are you reading a Banned Book this week? What is the best banned and/or challenged book you have ever read?