Thursday, 25 September 2014

Banned Books Week 2014

I've changed my mind so many times on what to write about for Banned Books Week this year. Last year I wrote about some of the books which made the most frequently challenged list for 2012-2013 and how they'd effected me, the year before (my first year blogging about Banned Books Week) I basically ranted about why it's ridiculous to ban books just because you are personally uncomfortable with their subject matter. It's still one of my favourite posts. This year I was originally planning to extend last years' post by writing about some of my childhood favourites which have been challenged and banned, but then I came across this post on the fabulous Book Riot today about how we should stop 'celebrating' Banned Books Week, and I started to think about why BBW and the reading of Banned Books is so important to me.

The ability to read any book you wish to off any shelf anywhere is about the freedom to thought. It’s about the freedom not to have to jump through hoops to pick up the book everyone is talking about. It’s about being able to decide for yourself whether or not you agree with the central premise of the book or the ideas expressed by the author of that book. It’s about your right to read and think, free from other people making those decisions on your behalf.
Please Stop 'Celebrating' Banned Books Week, Kelly Jensen, Book Riot,22/09/2014
Why do I read banned books? Because I can. Because, thankfully, I live in a country where they don't tend to go in for book banning so much, and so I can go into bookshops and second hand shops and find books and I don't buy them because they're banned books but because they're books that I want to read, and because everybody should have the right to read the things that they've decided they want to read.

As a child, nobody ever told me I couldn't read anything. My parents are fairly strict Catholics and there was restriction in our house on what TV we were allowed to watch, but never once in any of our many and extensive trips to the library was I ever told I couldn't read something. My mum actively encouraged me to read from the adult section once I got bored of the children and teen sections, and she was always more than happy to discuss whatever I was reading with me. My dad's really into non-fiction and is very knowledgeable, so while my mum's the big talker in our family I did also go to him with questions that had been raised by what I was reading and he would always take the time to talk with me. To me people who ask to have books removed from schools or libraries because they don't want their children to have access to it are people who are scared of the conversation. I think that's terribly sad. I've said before that banning things or not talking about them doesn't make them not exist and I feel so strongly that our children should hear about the scary things which can happen in the world from the people they love the most and feel the safest with - hopefully their parents. Although there's no way to make the horrible and scary and sad things that happen less so, if you take the time to talk to your children and educate them on what they can do to help/stay safe/avoid situations then that can only be positive.

Thus this year, as every year so far, I've reached the same conclusion; the importance of Banned Books Week is the conversation. Challenging censorship is about having the freedom to talk with each other and with kids about things that may make us uncomfortable, but which will help them in the long run.

This year, for the first time I actually read the book I meant to read for this event! I bought The Outsiders a few years ago because it's one of those seminal teen books people are always talking about, and always quoting the movie and I had never read it. If you're like me, you should go read it now. It was fantastic. Read my review here.

And so, because of all the things I've just been talking about I'm running a giveaway. Because it's all about the freedom to choose what you read, the prize will be your choice of one book from the top 100 Banned and Challenged books from 2000-2009 (click on the title to get the list). Where it says series, pick one please! :-p To enter all you have to do is fill in the form.

If you tweet about the giveaway you will receive an extra entry - please mention me (@fairybookgirl) in your tweet so I know you've done it!

I will draw one winner on Sunday evening, good luck!


  1. Excellent post. You are so right - it should not be a celebration - it is a right. Love it! Thanks for being part of the banned! :)

  2. I agree with Sheila...this is an excellent post, and I agree with it 100%. I have only read a few banned books, and those I chose because the book sounded like one I'd enjoy, not because it was banned. I think t's ridiculous to ban books, and ridiculous to read a book just because it was banned.