Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Banned Book Week

This week, from September 24th through October 1st, is Banned Book Week. I always miss it, even though it's always the last week of September, but this year I managed to catch it thanks to a random, campus-wide email by one of the English professors. For those who don't know, Banned Book Week is the American Library Association's yearly celebration of "the freedom to read and the importance of the First Amendment" (source).

For me, it's the time when we look at  our system thankfully, because even though there are people who would, and have, banned books, we live in a country where we're free to read anything we want, despite the objections of the close-minded. This week is a time to learn about books that have been banned not only repeatedly throughout history, but even in the previous year, and to reflect on what's being lost in attempts to ban intellectual property. What a sad world this would be if people determined to ban any material they found objectionable won. Could you imagine? Absolutely no books would exist, because there's no shortage of people who find at least something objectionable. I can't even imagine and even more so as quite a few of the books on the list of banned classics have absolutely changed my life.

So, in celebration of Banned Books Week, here are a few of the many things going on around the web. Check them out.

Banned Book Week Virtual Read-Out - Short readings from banned books. I found this both incredibly interesting and quite inspirational. Best of all, you can make a video and upload it to the Banned Books Week YouTube channel. Follow these guidelines to participate.

Banned Classics--A lit of banned classics. I had no idea how many classics I've both read, and have yet to read, before looking over this list. I'm preparing a list of books for reading just as soon as I get out of grad school. If you're interested in learning why some of them were banned, check this out.

Mapping Censorship--Click on the link below the map to see Google Map's mapping censorship website. [If you can't see the map, try refreshing].

View Book Bans and Challenges, 2007-2011 in a larger map
For now, and while you're here, please give this short video a watch. It's a short reading from Chaucer's Canterbury Tales (for the Virtual Read-Out) and is well worth a listen as the reader reads it in both middle and modern English.

I hope you'll take a moment to check out some of these resources for Banned Book Week and reflect on how fortune we are to have access, via libraries and on the web, to so many banned, or nearly banned, books.