It’s Banned Books Week again! That means if you borrow a “banned book” from Langdon Library, you’ll get this fashionable button (while supplies last) that is sure to be the envy of all your friends!
Banning a book is an extreme form of censorship, and in this day and age, fairly rare; these days, books are more likely to be “challenged,” which is nothing to sneeze at, because it’s the first step toward banning a book. But other, more subtle, forms of censorship exist as well–for example, the particularly nefarious form of banning that may occur when a library patron borrows a book with no intention of returning it, just to get it off the shelves! Censorship takes many forms, but as librarians, parents, and Americans, we must constantly try to balance appropriateness, offensiveness, and the basic constitutional right of free speech. Since its creation in 1982 by the American Library Association, Banned Books Week has reminded us that while not every book is appropriate for every reader, American citizens have the right to decide for ourselves what to read, listen to, or view.
According to the ALA, here’s the list of the top 10 most-challenged books in 2010:
And Tango Makes Three, by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie
Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley
Crank, by Ellen Hopkins
The Hunger Games (series), by Suzanne Collins
Lush, by Natasha Friend
What My Mother Doesn’t Know, by Sonya Sones
Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting by in America, by Barbara Ehrenreich
Revolutionary Voices edited by Amy Sonnie
Twilight (series), by Stephanie Meyer
And that’s not all! According to the Office for Intellectual Freedom, at least 46 of the Radcliffe Publishing Course Top 100 Novels of the 20th Century have been the target of ban attempts over the years, including The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger, The Grapes of Wrath and Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, The Color Purple, by Alice Walker, The Lord of the Flies by William Golding, 1984 and Animal Farm by George Orwell, Lolita by Vladmir Nabokov, Catch-22 by Joseph Heller, and Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, which as you can see above is still generating heat today.
So come on down to the library and borrow one of them! You may enjoy the book, or you may find parts of it personally offensive, but you’ll certainly feel good about your inalienable right to read it, no matter what anybody else says. Indeed, reading a so-called “banned book” may be the most patriotic thing you do all year!