Monday, September 26, 2011

Happy Banned Books Week!

So the Packer-Bear game didn't quite work out like I had hoped it would. In all the hub-bub and contention of the weekend one very important fact was lost to me. Saturday was the beginning of Banned Books Week.
During the last week of September every year, hundreds of libraries and bookstores around the country draw attention to the problem of censorship by mounting displays of challenged books and hosting a variety of events. The 2011 celebration of Banned Books Week will be held from September 24 through October 1. Banned Books Week is the only national celebration of the freedom to read. It was launched in 1982 in response to a sudden surge in the number of challenges to books in schools, bookstores and libraries. More than 11,000 books have been challenged since 1982.
 What bothers me the most is that many people are so eager to ban something they don't like or understand. Often they have never read the entire book they wish to remove, only pieces and parts. They are so eager to find the dirt, the smut, the vulgar. These would be censors must spend a lot time reading objectionable material. Hmmm.

Here are a few of my favorite examples taken for the website

"Betrayed" by PC Cast and Kristin Cast - challenged because "It simply causes kids to think about even more of things sexual." Ha, like that's possible. I haven't read this trite sounding vampire tale but all the objections to it might make me yet.

"Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl" - this one makes the list every year. It must be really awful.

"The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time" by Mark Haddon - winner of numerous literary prizes I can recommend this book, and not because of its "foul language." It is excellent.

"The Hunger Games" by Suzanne Collins - a book I have wanted to read, and will soon be a major motion picture, was challenged by Goffstown, NH parent because "it gave her 11-year-old nightmares." If that can get a book banned half the books I read would be gone.

"Slaughterhouse-Five" by Kurt Vonnegut, my personal literary idol - This book makes the list nearly every year for what some have called "soft core pornography". I wonder if the critics skipped the part about the bombing of Dresden. Maybe they skipped the book altogether and just watched the movie Valerie Perrine run around inside a glass geodesic dome topless.

So do yourself a favor and the world. Proclaim freedom. Read a banned book this week.
Or find a copy of Slaughterhouse-Five on DVD just to see Valerie Perrine. I wonder if it's on blu-ray.

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