Banned Books Week Begins!
Completely and with all my heart, I believe in my freedom to read whatever I want.
If I feel like reading Madonna’s “Sex” book, or a “Harry Potter” book, or (hey, why not?) the Bible or the Qur’an, no one should have the ability to stop me. That, my friends, would be censorship, and censorship is indicative of closed minds and fear-mongering. How dare someone impose their beliefs on another person, especially when it comes to art and expression? (I realize this whole “imposing belief” thing happens in many other arenas than books, and I would love to go into this much deeper, but really… this is a book blog. So I’m leaving it there for now.)
Book censorship is not only closed-minded, it’s annoying. And it really pi$$es me off.
Therefore, Banned Books Week is something I hold close to my heart.
I can’t imagine what my life would have been like had I not always been granted the freedom to read.
Sure, there were times I found myself reading things that were a little over my head. For example, Judy Blume’s “Forever” was probably not a good follow-up to the more age-appropriate “Superfudge” novels. It led to an awkward moment where, while reading the book, I came out into the living room while my Mom had friends over and asked “What’s this word mean?” Imagine Mom’s surprise when the word in question was “orgasm.” I think maybe I was in fourth grade.
However, my Mom is awesome and didn’t take the book away from me and forever forbid me to read anything of Judy Blume’s ever again.
In sixth grade, I was an advanced reader (much beyond my age level) and I also had a fascination with ballet at the time. My wonderful and open-minded teacher, Mrs. Kunze, recognized these things. So while my classmates were reading a book I’d already finished, Mrs. Kunze suggested a book for me to read. The book was Gelsey Kirkland’s memoir, “Dancing on my Grave.” Kirkland was the belle of the ballet ball in the 70’s and 80s. As the book contained parts involving sex and drugs, she made my Mom sign a permission slip first, but I was allowed to read the book. (Same thing with “Go Ask Alice.”) I wasn’t denied these books because of adult and dark themes.
Things that happen in life happen in books.
Not everything that happens in life is pretty.
Instead of closing our eyes, let’s admit these things and move on, shall we?
The truth is simple. Harry Potter doesn’t make kids practice witchcraft. Reading about homosexuals won’t make your kids gay. Sex is a thing that happens, both in books and in life. People do drugs, and reading about their experiences isn’t going to give you a contact high. You can read a book like “Lolita” without going out and doing bad things to underage girls.
SO: In honor of Banned Books Week 2010, I’m going to finally sit down and read Margaret Mitchell’s thousand-ish page masterpiece, “Gone with the Wind.”
While it may be thought of first and foremost as a cinematic masterpiece, the book has been challenged and banned since it’s first date of publication. Not only is there a vibrant, sexual woman at the center of it (gasp!) but there’s also slavery.
Slavery, unfortunately, is a thing that actually happened in real life. Pretending it didn’t won’t make it not true. Banning books such as “Gone with the Wind” and “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” aren’t going to erase history and paint everything with daisies and butterflies. Maybe reading about it can help us modern folk better understand our collective history.
I’ll be reading “Gone with the Wind” this week.
Both because I want to, and because I can.
Anyone else reading any Banned Books to celebrate? I’d love to hear them, and why you chose them.