A great way to observe Banned Book Week is to read a banned book. Look below for lists of the most banned books.
But first, why a Banned Book Week? Attempts to censor and control what you can read are not new. Authors like Ernest Hemingway, D.H. Lawrence and James Joyce are among the pantheon of writers whose works have at times been banned. Thousands and thousands of books were burned by Nazi Germany. Sadly, we now are seeing a rising tide in the United States of books being banned from schools and libraries. In some cases, brave librarians have lost their jobs defending the freedom to read.
There definitely are books people on both sides of the political divide find offensive and upsetting, but the key is context — providing background and surrounding material, not censorship.
From July 2021 to June 2022, PEN America’s Index of School Book Bans lists “2,532 instances of individual books being banned, affecting 1,648 unique book titles. The 1,648 titles are by 1,261 different authors, 290 illustrators, and 18 translators, impacting the literary, scholarly, and creative work of 1,553 people altogether.”
Banned Book Week is a broad coalition launched in 1982 with the theme this year of “Books Unite Us, Censorship Divides Us.” More resources include the American Library Association, UnitedAgainstBookBans, the Washington Library Association, National Coalition Against Censorship and the International Literacy Organization.
Our local author Jonathan Evison’s book “Lawn Boy” is number two on the American Library Association list of books most challenged this year. You can get it from Eagle Harbor Books and at Kitsap Regional Library along with number one on the ALA list, “Gender Queer,” by Maia Kobabe.
Here is a list of the most famous banned books, including “The Catcher in the Rye” and “A Farewell to Arms.” You also can still find these titles at KRL and Eagle Harbor.
Enjoy your reading!