This year, Banned Books Week falls September 29 – October 6. And this year, as every year, there’s occasional confusion about what we’re promoting. “Why do you want to celebrate the banning of books?” customers sometimes ask us.
We don’t! Banned Books Week brings attention to books that some people have tried to snuff out (usually by removing them from school curricula or school or public libraries), and what we are celebrating is your freedom — indeed, the freedom of all of us — to read whatever we please. If you take a look at the displays at both our Colorado Blvd. and Hastings Ranch stores, I guarantee you’ll be surprised to find books that you have read and enjoyed, and you’ll wonder what all of the fuss is about. Well, here’s a taste of the fuss:
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood was challenged because it was considered “too explicit for students.” One Hundred Years of Solitude by Nobel Prize winner Gabriel Garcia Marquez was purged from a reading list because it is “garbage being passed off as literature.” Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 was expurgated, with words like hell and damn blacked out. Of Mice & Men, Steinbeck’s classic, was challenged by a parent who was offended by its “profanity” and “racial slurs.” The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger was removed from a high school required reading list after African American parents objected to the book’s racial epithets. Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House in the Big Woods was removed from a classroom because it “is fueling the fire of racism.” In case you’re thinking, “Well, that couldn’t happen here,” all of these cases occurred in California. Book banning, and attempts to censor books, happens everywhere.
Visit the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression to find out more about Banned Books Week and to download a list of banned and challenged books. And stop by Vroman’s to peruse our selection of “dangerous” books (as well as our new “I read banned books” t-shirts and tote bags); your brain will thank you.