Banned Books Week

Beware of the BookThis week marks the USA's 30th annual Banned Books Week (sponsored by half a dozen American library, bookseller, journalist and publisher associations; and endorsed by about half a dozen more.) During Banned Books Week, bookstores and libraries across the USA celebrate (for want of a better word) the books that have been challenged or outright banned from libraries with in store displays, readings and so forth.

A challenge is defined as a formal, written complaint, filed with a library or school requesting that materials be removed because of content or appropriateness. Over the past ten years, the American Library Association has recorded 4660 challenges - which they estimate represents about one in four or five of the actual number of challenges, as most go unreported. Of these reported, about 30% of challenges are due to "sexually explicit" material, about a quarter due to "offensive language", about one in five due to material deemed "unsuited to age group", about 10% due to "violence", and 8% due to homosexuality.

This year, Banned Books Week is going digital with libraries, bookstores and individuals posting short readings from banned books on YouTube. If you'd like to post your own video or, like me, you like to make a point of reading at least one "banned book" during Banned Book Week, this list of recently challenged classics will give you plenty to choose from, or take a look through the top 10 challenged books by year, which includes classics and contemporary works.

Book Bans and Challenges, 2007-2011 (click for interactive version)
Banned Books Map

Beware of the book image by Florian.b, Flickr

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The Furies
Sunshine on Scotland Street by Alexander McCall Smith