Monday, September 28, 2009

The Freedom to Read

Today marks the start of the American Library Association's Banned Books Week. It's kind of crazy to think that we still have to deal with the banning of books in schools, and if you think it's just an American problem, the Canadian Library Association's list of banned and/or challenged books and magazines is pretty illuminating.

And it isn’t just a problem of the past, either. Just last year a group of parents tried to have Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale banned from a Grade 12 English class at Lawrence Park Collegiate in Toronto. (The parents failed in their challenge and the book remains in the curriculum.)

Other books on both the CLA and ALA lists of banned and/or challenged books include: Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird, J. D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye, William Golding's Lord of the Flies and Anthony Burgess' Clockwork Orange. I have read three of these four books (all in high school) and will be writing about To Kill a Mockingbird at some point in the next little while.

Of the total CLA list of banned/challenged books (which goes back to the 60s), I have read 14 titles (but I included series as one title). Of the titles on the ALA list, I have read only 9 (but the list is only a top-100); another 20 or so have been on my to-read list for a few years, though.

So, do you read banned books? How do you do against the Library Associations’ lists? And, does seeing a book title on the list make you want to read it more?


  1. Banning a book, while in the past could have been possibly detrimental to the author if he or she was still living at the time and then potentially had to deal with persecution, seems like, overall, good publicity. Nothing makes reading better than the tinge of trespass.

    Another issue: What about heavily editing? This was an issue with The Diary of Anne Frank where some editions removed her discussions of sexuality, particularly her musings on lesbian feelings. This is also so dangerous because it puts the work out there with a neat and tidy facade and as if it's whole but all the while prudish types are removing integral (saucy) parts.

    Hm, maybe I should go to class now.

    Lovely blog, my dear.

  2. Hi Angela,
    This is a great idea! You have the honour of being the author of the very first blog I've been on. I'll be back and with some titles. Take Care, Vicki


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