Fight censorship by picking up a challenged book for Banned Books Week
As you may know, this week is Banned Books Week. Activist Judith Krug started this campaign in 1982 in response to a seeming epidemic of banned books. Parents and school officials across the nation were working to remove controversial volumes from school libraries and summer reading lists.
Then and now, a book’s challengers produce a grab bag of complaints, from concerns about a work’s sexual content, its language, it focus (or not) on religion, and plain old profanity. Now, Banned Books Week is been sponsored by the American Library Association (ALA), among others, and is endorsed by the Library of Congress.
Why should we care about banned books? Many advocates argue that banning books is in direct violation of the personal liberties that Americans hold so dear. They point to instances of books being banned for purposes of political and social control, and the disastrous effects of such actions.Tim Hardegree (L) and Chris Hanson protest the burning of ‘Harry Potter’ books outside the Christ Community Church December 30, 2001 in Alamogordo, New Mexico. The churchs pastor called the books by author J.K Rowling a ‘masterpiece of satanic deception’ as parishioners burned dozens of Harry Potter books and other types of literature they found offensive. (Photo by Neil Jacobs/Getty Images)
It’s especially important to look at banned books written by women. For much of history, women have had little chance to speak, much less publish a novel or nonfiction book. While it is concerning for any author to see their work challenged and removed from circulation, it is especially troubling to see this happen to a group that has been silenced for much of human history. Therefore, picking up a banned book written by a woman is a double whammy in standing up against censorship.
Now, there’s always the possibility that you won’t like a particular banned book. You may even find yourself agreeing with the concerns of others, if not necessarily with their actions. That doesn’t mean you should hide from these books, however. They certainly won’t bite, and they might even be good for you.
Humans are perhaps at their best when challenging their assumptions. When you reach beyond yourself and try to understand lives and points of view other than your own, you grow. You learn. Hopefully, you become a better person.
In a world where people are increasingly anxious and combative, we need to reach for challenging media. There are few better opportunities to cultivate a wider, more empathetic state of mind than a good book. Plus, there’s the thrill of picking up a supposedly illicit novel, only to find that it has something important to say.
Read on to see eleven notable banned books written by women, in no particular order. They range the gamut from speculative fiction, to investigative journalism, to graphic novels. You’re sure to find something that will interest you, and even move you.
So, this week, reach for a banned book. It might change your life.