This week is banned book week. The ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom generates lists of the most challenged books. Of those most frequently challenged over the past decade, I admit there are several that I will not read because I am just not interested; that doesn’t mean I think they should be banned. Of the others, there are now more that have earned a spot on my lengthy to-read list [note: not complete].
I’m happy that I’ve read many of the titles, though I’m embarrassed it took me so long to read Fahrenheit 451. The other English class read it, mine didn’t.
I’m lucky in that Mum didn’t censor my reading … at least not that I recall. I often wonder if she planted books with topics we were (are) uncomfortable discussing… It doesn’t really matter. I wasn’t always steered toward great literature, but no one stopped me from reading, well, anything. As with any young teenager, I loved stories that I thought were full of things I probably shouldn’t be reading. Heh. I remember mum’s copy of Rebecca was similar in size to her romance novels so I thought it was like them and I snuck in reading time when I thought she wouldn’t notice and made sure to put it back in the same spot when I was done for that session (yes, I did the same with her romance novels).
I think that is why I enjoy reading so voraciously, no not because of all the forbidden things I was reading that I thought the adults didn’t know about… I believe it’s because when I found a book, I could open it and begin to read. It was up to me to like a certain title, to weigh the strength of its writing, its messages, or not. That power is awesome to a young girl. I do wish I had more of a space to discuss books then. It’s something I still struggle with–as my back log of almost finished book reviews can attest.
I recall seeing And Tango Makes Three in the Lincoln Center Barnes & Noble several years ago. I flipped through it and thought it was absolutely delightful … a children’s book on penguins! from the Central Park Zoo! and based on a true story! Later I was very surprised and saddened to learn it was often banned due to … two daddies! *sigh* It’s a beautiful book and I think should be in every home library.
This coming year, I want to make a better dent on reading more of the banned classics. I’m not sure where to begin. Many are in my library (not all are catalogues, only some 600+) and I should reread those that I read many years ago and am now fuzzy about, such as Grapes of Wrath (first read in 7th grade, I remember checking it out from the school library) or Rebecca or Their Eyes Were Watching God (read in my First Year English course in college). Why start with those titles? No real reason other than they’re sitting in my to-read bookcases.
What banned book (classic or modern) do you most enjoy?