Thursday, October 1, 2009

Banned Books Week Sept 26 - Oct 3

I have always loved to read. From my earliest days I can remember my dad reading to me every single night. Of course there were the normal children's stories. My absolute favorite was Fantastic Mr Fox, a fabulous book by Roald Dahl which is about to be released as a movie voiced by George Clooney. I bet my dad read that book to me 100 times. I also remember the Bunnicula series, The Chronicles of Narnia, and everything by Shel Silverstein. Big books, small books, thick books, skinny books. Big words, small words. What seems a bit unusual (or at least I haven't heard of others doing this) is that we also read a lot of non-fiction. We read National Geographic books about nature and animals. We read history and science books. Biographies and Tell me Why.

I grew up in a big old rambling house. There were books everywhere. Shelves upon shelves of books about anything and everything. Fiction and non-fiction. Old and new. Reading and learning wasn't really encouraged - it didn't have to be. It just happened. As the only child at home and living in a small town in the middle of nowhere books were the path to a million adventures.

As an adult, I have gone through phases. Sometimes life gets in the way of reading, but I always find my way back to books. I am in two different book clubs. One is the normal kind of club - women and wine and (usually) mainstream novels. The other is made of a motley crew of coworkers - all men, all quite a bit older than I am. We only read books from the list of the 100 greatest novels of the 20th century. Many times we have preconceived notions of what a book will be, often times we are wrong. The books are widely varied and so are the points of view. It is wonderful to be able to be a part of it.

Banned books? I guess I just don't understand. Why would someone think that they should make choices for me? That they are qualified to decide what is appropriate and what is not. I fully admit that there is a lot of crap published in this world. But I also would never presume to say that it doesn't have the right to exist. I would never tell anyone what they can and can not read or do or think. If everyone in the world spent more time worrying about themselves and less time worrying about others, I think that the world would be a much better place.

Each year for banned books week I try to read another book on the banned books list. This year, it will be The Chocolate War. My sincere hope is that many others do the same.

1 comment:

  1. My mom complains that books are disappearing off the shelves of my hometown library. I don't know if it's because the head librarian has OCD or hates books that aren't somehow "inspirational" (read: celibate and Jesusy). But I now fantasize about setting up a trust that somehow forces them to accept, shelve and check out banned books. You know, just to mix it up a bit.