Why I Believe In The Freedom to Read

Banned Books Week 2014

I was always vaguely aware that there was such a thing as banned books, but I was still quite naive in my understanding of what constituted a “banned” book, and I was definitely under the impression that books weren’t banned in the democratic west of the world. I know, how wrong I was. What I found even more surprising are some of the titles that are challenged, including: Looking For Alaska by John Green, Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman, Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell and Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson.

Banned Books Week is an annual event held in September (though on this blog I will be posting about it for the entire month of September, including a giveaway and reviews of banned books). Just to kick things off I’ve decided to share why I believe in the freedom to read.

 I believe in the freedom to read.

I believe in the freedom to read unpopular and disagreeable texts, as much as I believe in the freedom to read the cotton-candy and fluffy stories that constitute Chick-Lit, and our childhoods.

I believe in “guilty pleasures”, and classical pleasures, and pleasures that push you to the edge of your comfort zone, before rushing to pull you right back in again.

I believe you have the right to read what you want, when you want. Whether for the broadening of the mind, or your horizons, to experience a challenging and uncomfortable viewpoint, or just because you fancy a change of pace.

I believe that banning books is a dangerous starting point in banning freedom of speech and opinion. I believe censorship is wrong. I believe people should learn that it is healthy to be offended, and the protection of their offense should not be their first priority.

I believe in controversy. I believe in diversity. I believe in culture, and taste and art.

I believe that even in the wildest realms of fiction, fictional worlds can never even compare to the suffering, grotesque attitudes and brutality that often occurs in our factual world on a daily basis.

I believe banning books does not protect, shelter or help young people or individuals, I believe banning books stunts human growth and development, hinders opinions, and reduces resilience and understanding.

I believe in intellectual freedom. I believe in cultivating a creative culture. I believe in the written word and I believe the pen is mightier than the sword. I believe in the power of words. I believe in ideas, and expression and emotion.

I believe conformity restricts, and inquiring minds are desirable, and that society depends on a deepening understanding of both our selves, and of each other.

I believe in the freedom to read.

BBW14_CoverArt_op1

Artwork courtesy of the American Library Association

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20 comments

    1. Lol – free speech, but only if you say what I want you to say!

      The most recent one I heard of was – https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/11595276-the-miseducation-of-cameron-post and loads of book stores in the US were sending copies to those who requested it for free, just to spread it because it was banned, which I thought was a neat idea. Of course, banning a book will only serve to increase interest in it. I’m looking forward to reading some banned books this month!

      R x

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      1. I really don’t understand the logic of banning them at all- like you say, it’ll just make people want to read it more anyway!

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  1. Great post and I can,t believe it’s September again already! O_O I’m surprised by so many books who end up on the banned list. I think HP is even on there now. And a lot of books that, like Ellen Hopkins’ books, only show reality. I mean, should we raise our kids in a societal bubble so that when they grow up and see the real truth of life they’ll all go in depression or won’t know what to do wit themselves? I mean cmon!!

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    1. Thanks 🙂 I know this year is flying in so fast!

      HP was challenged in the UK for being anti-religious because of magic… I bet those kids are still allowed to watch Disney, I mean talking animals are fine, but magic? No! Lol I can understand restricting some content from young people due to a lack of maturity in understanding and comprehending the content, which it’s every parent’s right to do. But to ban books from adult consumption is just wrong – people should be allowed to make their own judgements and form their own opinions, and of course you’re right, I think a lack of knowledge only leads to a sheltered individual who wouldn’t be as well equipped as they could be to handle what life throws at us! I know a lot of books are challenged, and in some cases banned, but I’m not aware of any UK-wide banned books – if someone is reading this maybe they can enlighten me??

      Thanks for commenting, Giselle 🙂 R x

      Liked by 1 person

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