Sunday, September 26, 2010

Freedom to read

As you have likely heard, this week through Oct. 2 is Banned Books Week. Sponsored by the American Library Association, the week heralds the importance of maintaining access to thought-provoking and controversial literature.

The list of frequently banned or "challenged" books is astonishing - see here for examples of some of the banned classics. Then maybe pick a book that's unorthodox or unpopular - even better if it's something that makes you uncomfortable - and read it. I read Lolita this year; that addresses a topic I could not find more repugnant, and yet my life is far richer for having read it. Can anyone recommend something new for me to try? I am working on pushing myself outside of my political and cultural comfort zone.

In that vein, blogger and author Zetta Elliot has pointed out that the lack of diverse voices within published books is its own form of censorship. If authors of color and those who are otherwise marginalized (lower classes, queer, whatever it is) aren't able to get their books to the marketplace, what are we, as a society, missing? As I pointed out before, the ghettoization of black writers into the "African American Interest" section of bookstores limits their exposure to readers and readers' exposure to their ideas. I hope we can continue to work to overcome that.

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Princess Nijma

Princess Nijma