Friday Speak Out!: It’s Banned Book Week - September 30th through Oct 6th

Friday, September 28, 2012
It’s Banned Book Week - September 30th through Oct 6th!
by Amber Polo

Why should you as an author care? Your books probably will never be banned. Right?
The freedom to write and publish without censure is a gift to you from those who have worked hard to protect the rights of all writers. The authors of the Bill of Rights. The ACLU. And, yes, librarians. Those be-bunned creatures have protected your rights for decades. They didn’t have to love your work or even want to read it, but they understood that if censors were able to ban one book, all were in danger. They stood up in their libraries and in courtrooms.
As I wrote The Shapeshifters’ Library I reflected upon the freedom to read and the freedom to publish and what I, as a librarian, always took for granted. I incorporated the problems of libraries into a fantasy where noble dog-shifters protect knowledge from book-burning werewolves in a small Ohio town. I speculated on the many ways the werewolves among us have tried to curtail our knowledge. It became clear that banning and burning are pretty much the same thing. If a book is unavailable, it’s ideas are gone. If it never gets published, it’s unavailable.
Enter “Fifty Shades of Grey” into this year’s censorship discussions of what should be ripped from shelves and chained in the library’s basement. In a small library bookclub I facilitate, I asked a group of senior citizen-readers if they planned to read the book. We had a great discussion. One of the best comments was from a woman who said she would read it because she wanted to be able to discuss it with her grandchildren.
Recently the San Francisco Public Library installed 18 privacy screens on computer terminals to shield from others what one person sees on the internet, be it porn or someone’s idea of porn.
Librarians don’t judge the reason you want to read. But they do have policies detailing their individual library book selection policy. Public money can’t be stretched to buy everything published. (Remember that when you expect a library to buy your book or accept a donated copy.)
Celebrate Banned Book Week by reading a banned book. Check out these lists of the Top Ten Challenged Books for the years 2001 through 2011. I bet you find a couple of your favorites.

Visit your local public library and see what’s changed. Support your local library. And love your librarian.

Full disclosure: I have an MLS and have selected books for a public library. And I’ve listened to the first third of “Fifty Shades of Grey” in audiobook.
Amber Polo has had a lifelong love of libraries. A fascination with ancient libraries and curiosity about why werewolves outnumbered dog-shifters in literature inspired her new urban fantasy series The Shapeshifters' Library filled with librarian dog-shifters.

To help writers and readers reduce stress, her Relaxing the Writer: Guidebook to the Writers’ High, offers suggestions and simple exercises. Contact Amber at and visit her blog Wordshaping.

Would you like to participate in Friday "Speak Out!"? Email your short posts (under 500 words) about women and writing to: marcia[at]wow-womenonwriting[dot]com for consideration. We look forward to hearing from you!



Sioux Roslawski said...

Amber--Sadly, yes. There are some of my favorites among these books.

* The Color Purple
* I Know Now Why the Caged Bird Sings
* anything by Sherman Alexie
* To Kill a Mockingbird
* A Brave New World
* The Hunger Games

As long as there are small-minded, prudish people who love to keep their heads buried in the sand, there will always be books that are banned. Unfortunately...

Anonymous said...

Why aren't books rated as movies are. It would sure help me know what my teenager was reading when I don't have time to read it too. There are scary misleading information hidden in books. At least this list gives me a place to start to keep my younger kids from. Banning books, in my opinion, from libraries does not keep those who want it from buying them. I think it is a good thing to keep specific things from libraries. If we don't try and safeguard what are kids have access to then they will be snatched by those who would rather mold their minds for a product like porn. Thanks to all awesome librarians who understand this.

Amber Polo said...

When books like "Leaves of Grass" and "Little Red Riding Hood" have been censored, we think censorship can be trivialized. Check out the recent Idaho challenge for "Like Water for Chocolate."
These parents need to check to see if "Fifty Shades..." is on their kids' phones.

Nightingale said...

I wish my book Gemini Rising would get banned, especially on national TV! Thanks for the info!

apatge said...

I started reading novels before I was in primary grades in school. I would lug piles of books home with each visit to the library. Research, nature, animals, the Holocaust, the evil of the Nazi regime. All these I read. By the time In the 1950's, I discovered "banned books" at the library. Gee whiz? What were these books? Jack London and Ernest Hemmingway had books that were only available if you signed them out with permission from parents. So, that was easy. Off I went with "For Whom The Bells Tolled, Call of the Wild, White Fang, Lord of the Flies" and lots of other reads.
I found out about man's inhumanity to man. I learned about the wrongness of "Manifest Destiny", racism, sexism, homophobia, xenophobia, and the importance of the written word. Believe half of what you read but dig further was the core of my reading.
I soon challenged organized religion because it rarely did the things I believed we were obligated to do as travelers on this earthship we all share a ride on.
Banning books amounts to narrowing one's ability to seek truth. Sometimes fiction is just that, an escape from reality. I learned which kinds of fiction were part of my imagination that was beneficial and which was unacceptable for my mores. I did not need someone else to comb through my mind for me. I have been against banned books since I first started to read. I will always fight the banning of the written word.

Powered by Blogger.
Back to Top