A book worth banning is a book worth reading.
We are now in the midst of the thirtieth anniversary of Banned Books Week, a celebration of the freedom to read and the importance of the First Amendment. Sponsored by the American Library Association since 1982, this week shines a light on the benefits of intellectual freedom and raises important questions about the themes, ideas, and concepts resonating—for better or for worse—in the cultural consciousness.
“There’s nothing like making something forbidden that accomplishes more in the way of drawing attention and interest to it,” says author Joyce Maynard about censorship. In the below video, Maynard joins other writers, including Natalie Goldberg, Ken Bruen, James Salter, Jonathan Carroll, Alice Walker, Jerome Charyn, David Handler, Jim Kohlberg, Edna O’Brien, John Jakes, and Luis J. Rodríguez,to share their thoughts about and experiences with censored books.
By reflecting on what it felt like to have their own books banned and celebrating censored favorites such as Lolita, Fahrenheit 451, and Tropic of Cancer, these authors illuminate important works in this tribute to Banned Books Week:
These writers are surely not alone in their appreciation: What are your favorite banned books? Which ones most impacted you as a reader and writer?
If you're interested in more background, I encourage you to check out this Banned Books Week page, which historically positions a number of challenged and banned books, and gives their backstories. When you click on a cover image, you'll find the story behind the book; for instance, you'll discover that some feminists, who considered it "anti-feminist," rejected Helen Gurley Brown's Sex and the Single Girl and that Howard Fast's historical fiction was banned in New York public schools for supposed "vulgar scenes." Whether a work was challenged, censored, banned, sued, or burned—it's there.