Celebrating the Freedom to Read!


I love FALL! One of the reasons I love fall is that the American Library Association (ALA) celebrates Banned Books Week the last week of September. This year, the celebration is from September 25 – October 1, and the theme is “Celebrating the Freedom to Read.”

These days when we talk about banned books, we aren’t usually talking about bans by the government; however, there are countries that do still actively ban books, and our government used to be one of them. “Fanny Hill” holds the distinction of being the last book banned by the US government. It was banned in 1821 and again in 1963, and the ban was lifted after the Supreme Court decision of  Memoirs v. Massachusetts in 1966. “The Satanic Verses” continues to be banned in many Islamic countries.

Book cover for The Grapes of WrathIt is amazing to me that some of our most beloved classics have been challenged or banned. I might not have appreciated all of these books when I was in high school, but “The Grapes of Wrath” is one of my all time favorites! I have read about a fourth of the classics on the ALA’s list and loved almost all of them. I will admit that “Ulysses” was not my cup of tea, mainly because following the stream-of-consciousness style was just more work than I wanted to do to read a book — but I heartily support anyone else’s right to put in that much work!

Book cover for The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-timeBooks do continue to face challenges in our libraries and schools. Even universities have jumped on the bandwagon in recent years with the use of “trigger warnings” and “safe spaces,” raising concerns about academic and intellectual freedom. The ALA posts its “most frequently challenged list” every year. This year’s top 10 list contains another one of my favorite books, “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.” It’s a book about a gifted but autistic boy who works to solve a mystery. I can’t count the number of times I have recommended this book! Another book on the list, “Fun Home,” has been on my to-read list for a while now. I think I will bump it to the top in honor of Banned Books Week.

Please enjoy your freedom to read! But remember, not every book is for every person at every time, and that’s okay. I will grab my banned books coffee mug and a book and head outside to enjoy mine!