It's easy to be righteous about banning books until you run across a book that is offensive to you personally. Last year, I was running around wearing my I Read Banned Books bracelet when the brouhaha erupted about the handbook for pedophiles being sold on Amazon. (Google it if you're curious. I'm not going to link to it.) There was no way to possibly to defend the sale of that book...except that there was no way to possibly argue for banning it without that same argument applying to other books.
It made me really think about how far I'm willing to go to defend freedom of speech. Ultimately, I didn't get caught up in the online hysteria because I just didn't believe the book was being read by anybody (I think Amazon had reported 1 or 2 sales), and pretty quickly the
I attended a panel discussion this summer in which there was lots of discussion about how to "save" black books. The conversation turned to the types of authors and books that the attendees and panelists felt were hurting the industry. But here's the thing: I'd bet a lot of money that in another room somewhere this year was a similar panel and a similar discussion, only that conversation centered on the kinds of books that were written by the panelists I was listening to. I'd also bet someone, somewhere has railed against the kinds of books I write. Though, dang it, nobody has tried to ban or challenge them that I know of.
I know most of the readers of this blog don't like the street lit. And that's cool. I'm glad to have connected with people who like the kind of books I like. But as I've said before if we're really going to be all gooey-hearted about supporting banned and challenged books, it's going to include standing behind some books we don't necessarily like.
Banned Books Week is being able to read a book that you like or think you might like knowing that it's pissing somebody off. In fact, think of this week as Books That Will Piss Somebody Off If You Read Them Week.
To get you started, here's a list of the 100 most frequently banned or challenged books 2000-2009, including Fallen Angels by Walter Dean Myers (#11-yay Mr. Myers!), a whole lot of Morrison and Walker, and Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred Taylor.
Let freedom ring. What are you reading for Banned Books Week?