This is an annual event which takes place at the end of September and celebrates the freedom and the right to read.
A couple years ago I read DH Lawrence’s Lady Chatterly’s Lover for the first time, a book infamous for having been banned due to its erotic content, harsh language, and love affair between an aristocrat and a working-class man. And you know what? I loved it.
I firmly believe everyone should have the chance to choose what to read for themselves. And I have doubts that censorship works the way people intend it to, anyhow: the stigma of censorship only pushes the banned book in question further into the public’s attention. Besides, who has the right to make that choice for me?
I had a quick peek through the books banned or restricted in 2009-2010 and was startled to see other favourites, amongst which I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou. Yes, it does have pretty explicit content; it’s a shocking autobiography about surviving rape and racism. But I read it when I was around 12 and the book changed my life. Sure, I wasn’t always comfortable whilst reading it but I wanted to read it, and the world can’t remain sugar-coated forever. And there is a lot of beauty in this book, in how Maya overcomes everything — everything — and succeeds.
There were a bunch of other surprising titles on the lists for rather inane reasons, such as the Twilight series and The Vampire Academy series (including books that have not yet been published), because vampires are too sexy.
Then there was The Diary of Anne Frank, banned from schools for sexual material and homosexual themes. I could see why people might be upset by Maya Angelou, but this book was a true WTF on the list. Which brings me to… the Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary. A dictionary?! Oh wait, oh noes, it has the term ‘oral sex’ in it. God forbid a dictionary actually define words!
Perhaps it is best to censor myself before I continue rambling for another page or two. :-)
I’m curious to hear your thoughts. What banned books have you enjoyed? What do you think about censorship?