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Have you any banned books on your shelf today?

Banned Book Reading Challenge

Banned Books reading event 2013The annual Banned Books Week (Sept 22 – 28, 2013) reminds writers and readers of creeping literary censorship and offers surprises within the list of banned books. Classics such as Huckleberry Finn, To Kill a Mockingbird, and even The Lord of the Rings regularly top the list. Does this mean you can’t buy the books? No. It does mean someone objects strenuously enough to lobby to have those books removed from schools and libraries.

Not surprisingly, YA authors receive a lot of attention. At least two of my writer friends have achieved banned-book status. It’s a badge of honor. These authors have stayed true to the vision of their work and not bowed to social pressure or political correctness.

One had no idea her middle grade book, her first book, had made any of the lists until the Anti-Defamation League called and asked her to speak during the upcoming Banned Book Week.

The personal aspect of censorship

For many the question of censorship is at best a matter of intellectual debate but for writers it is way more personal. Writers face choices when it comes to their storytelling. Sometimes a choice comes from an internal debate, other times fellow writers raise questions. If they make it through the creative process and survive the critique assault, writers may think they are home free when they finally sign a book contract. Not so. Barricades thrown up during the editorial and marketing process may cause even further problems. At every stage a writer stands ready to be questioned, cautioned, and even pushed to make choices that change their work.

Carolyn Forsman, a former librarian who supported free expression by becoming an award-winning jewelry designer and creating pieces that celebrated the freedom to read, including her well-known “I Read Banned Books” bracelet.

What is our response to the banned books?

Every year we remember those writers who have stood their ground and protected their vision. We celebrate them. We high-five them. We sing the praise of their work . . . but do we read them?

Here’s a chance to take advantage of the whole year, not simply one week, and bring those books into the public arena by buying, sharing, loaning, and reading them. When we keep them in circulation, we keep their ideas and stories alive.

Take the 2013 Banned Book Reading Challenge

Christine over at Buckling Bookshelves has issued a banned book reading challenge to any and all who would like to make a statement by turning the pages of banned books. It’s simple enough.

HOW TO PARTICIPATEWrite a post, as long or short as you like, about your participation in this challenge and linking to this post. If you don’t have a blog, you can leave a comment here instead. I’d love for everyone to review the books they read, but it’s not required. Overlap with other challenges is totally OK. Sometime during Banned Books Week 2013 (date TBD) link-up a wrap-up post about how you did with the challenge (or leave a comment).

Update: For each book you read for the challenge, you can also link-up your reviews here, so we can read them!

2nd Update: The dates for Banned Books Week 2013 will be September 22-28. The challenge officially ends on the first day of Banned Books Week, but you can finish linking up your reviews and/or wrap-up posts throughout the week.

Here are the levels you can choose from (and if you decide to change at any point, that’s totally OK too!):

Making Waves: 5 Challenged Books
Trouble-Maker: 10 Challenged Books
Rebel: 15 Challenged Books
Insurgent: 20 Challenged Books
Leader of a Revolution: 25 Challenged Books

 My 2013 banned book reading list

Banned book Buckaroo and the Angel by Betty Traylor GyenesSo I’m officially looking to make waves but hope I’ll at least end up as a trouble-maker.

  1. 1984 by George Orwell (1948)
  2. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury (1953)
  3. Brideshead Revisted by Evelyn Waugh (1945)
  4. Lolita by Vladimir Nobokov (1955)
  5. As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner (1930)
  6. The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings  (4 books) by J.R.R. Tolkien (1954)
  7. Buckaroo and the Angel by Betty Gyenes (1999)

Your turn: Share your thoughts, your comments, your favorite banned books below.
For more info and to participate, go to the 2013 Banned Books Reading Challenge page.

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  • Christine

    So glad you’ve joined Vikk! I’ll definitely need to check out the book written by your friend — always interesting to hear about titles that have been challenged in additional to the “usual suspects”!

  • Vikk Simmons

    Hi Christine, Thanks for the welcome. I’m happy to join in and always amazed at the books I find on the ALA list. A couple of these books make up part of my participation in the modernist reading challenge next month (A Modern March) so it works out quite well. Let’s hope more folks get interested. There’s plenty of books for children, YA, and the usual adult contenders to be read.

  • Christine

    I’m spreading the word around as best I can — I’m still pretty new at blogging though, so I’m thrilled I even got 11 participants! And you’re right, the choices of books that qualify is so varied there really is something for everyone.

  • Darlene’s Book Nook

    Hi, Vikk! The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings is also on our TBR list! I’ll have to add that to our banned book list. Thanks for stopping by, and I hope you have fun reading more banned books!

  • Vikk Simmons

    Hey Darlene, Yep they are on my TBR list for the TBR Pile challenge, too.

  • Vikk Simmons

    I’ve twittered, Facebooked, LinkedIn, G+’lussed, and Pinterested this event, so maybe someone will respond. :) I have a personal FB and an FB page for this blog, too, so I get double-duty there. Ya never know.

  • Christine

    wow thanks! much appreciated :)

  • Love at First Book

    I’m a big fan of reading banned books because there’s this really cool thing called Freedom of Speech. I think that the people who want to ban books should remember that!

    Good list! :)

  • Vikk Simmons

    Thanks! I haven’t really set out to read any banned books before but I’ve definitely never shied away from them. In fact, I seem to have read a fairly large number of them over the years. I’m looking forward to the reading prompted by this year’s Banned Book reading challenge. Thanks for stopping by. Free speech is definitely something we all need to protect.

  • Melanie Leeson

    Go you! I hate to say that I have only read one of the books on your list (The Hobbit). I loved Banned Books Week!