Banned Books? Weak.

Author Emily Dietle

My focus is on state-church separation & social issues. I'm an avid reader, and feel that one of our most valuable tools is the free movement of information and ideas. | @emilyhasbooks

As many of you may already know, this week is the 30th annual Banned Books Week. The American Library Association (ALA) explains this celebration best, “Banned Books Week is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read. Typically held during the last week of September, it highlights the value of free and open access to information.”

In 2011 alone, there were 326 registered challenges at the ALA; meaning that in in each of those individual cases, someone attempted to remove or restrict materials because they found them to be ‘objectionable.’ This isn’t something to be brushed off lightly, there are people actively organized and attempting to filter our libraries and schools of books that they deem unsuitable.

These are outright attempts at censorship. When you look at the proposed challenges, you find that the majority of claims are made by parents of school-aged children- requesting restrictions due to ‘offensive’ language, sex, sex-ed, and other ‘morality’ issues. I applaud the teachers, librarians, and citizens like yourselves that work diligently to defend free-expression and information in the public arena. Without their activism, there would be more challenges that end up fruitful for the conservative complainants.

Author Thomas Lawson is also celebrating Banned Books week. Recognizing that his book would have likely been banned “sixty years ago, as “atheistic” Communism was looming,” Lawson has marked the cover of his best-seller with the stamp of the McCarthy era ban-hammer, and has given a Virtual Read-Out from ‘Letters From an Atheist Nation‘ in the following video.


Remember, the book is not defined by the format it’s in, but the content on the pages. So whether marvelously musty or digital & dapper, start reading a book this week. Yes, you! If you’re not sure where to start, I suggest picking up a copy of every one of the following classics & setting out to read them all by the next Banned Books Week.

The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger
The Grapes of Wrath, by John Steinbeck
To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
Farenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury
The Color Purple, by Alice Walker
The Lord of the Flies, by William Golding
1984, by George Orwell
Lolita, by Vladmir Nabokov
Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck
Catch-22, by Joseph Heller
Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley
Animal Farm, by George Orwell
The Sun Also Rises, by Ernest Hemingway
As I Lay Dying, by William Faulkner
Native Son, by Richard Wright
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, by Ken Kesey
Slaughterhouse-Five, by Kurt Vonnegut
For Whom the Bell Tolls, by Ernest Hemingway
The Call of the Wild, by Jack London
The Lord of the Rings, by J.R.R. Tolkien
The Jungle, by Upton Sinclair
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, by Maya Angelou
A Light in the Attic, by Shel Silverstein
The Satanic Verses, by Salman Rushdie
The Anarchist Cookbook, by William Powell
Sophie’s Choice, by William Styron
Cat’s Cradle, by Kurt Vonnegut
A Separate Peace, by John Knowles
Naked Lunch, by William S. Burroughs
The Naked and the Dead, by Norman Mailer
Tropic of Cancer, by Henry Miller
An American Tragedy, by Theodore Dreiser
Rabbit, Run, by John Updike