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Censorship

The Most Frequently Challenged Books of the Year

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It is Banned Books Week from September 22 until 28, and readers around the country are celebrating their favorite challenged books. You can also recognize Banned Books Week Heroes, join the Twitter Party or participate in the Virtual Read-Out.

Below, we’ve linked to free samples of all the books on the American Library Association (ALA)’s annual list of the most frequently challenged library books–follow the links below to read these controversial books yourself.

Follow this link for a list of “all the books challenged, restricted, removed, or banned in 2012 and 2013.”

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Librarian Bans Book To Show Censorship’s Harm

Mansfield University of Pennsylvania librarian Scott R. DiMarco intentionally banned a book within his library system to demonstrate ”what harm censorship can really do to a community.”

DiMarco wrote about his censorship exercise in College & Research Libraries News. The librarian picked One Woman’s Vengeance, a book self-published on Lulu by Mansfield University PR director Dennis R. Miller. Here’s more from DiMarco:

on a campus of 3,000, only eight people actually asked for a meeting with me to discuss the reasons I banned the book and to discuss what could be done to reverse the ban. The overwhelming number of comments were complaints about how they felt betrayed by this action or their frustration with the administration. Some used Facebook as a forum to make rude comments from the relatively safe distance social media provides.

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Readers & Writers Celebrate Judy Blume’s Birthday

The National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC) has collected birthday wishes for the legendary author, Judy Blume.

The Giver author Lois Lowry, former National Ambassador of Young People’s Literature Jon Scieszka and Internet Girls series writer Lauren Myracle all contributed messages.

Scieszka and Myracle shared photos of themselves posing with Blume. Read all the messages on the NCAC blog.

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Han Han Describes Censorship in Chinese Publishing

Chinese Nobel Prize winner Mo Yan generated controversy for describing censorship as “unpleasant but necessary.”

Chinese author Han Han published This Generation earlier this year, collecting essays and blogs he wrote about living in the Communist country. In that book, he spoke frankly about censorship in his country.

Below, we’ve collected five quotes from the book illustrating how censorship really works in the Chinese publishing industry. As you can see below, Han writes without capitalization in his prose.

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Read Free Samples of the Most Challenged Books of the Year

To celebrate Banned Books Week, the American Library Association (ALA) is hosting a virtual reading of banned and challenged books on YouTube.

To help you find books to support, we’ve reprinted the ALA’s annual list of the most frequently challenged library books of 2011.

We’ve linked to free samples of all the books on the list–follow the links below to read these controversial books yourself.

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Banned Book Trading Cards

To celebrate the 30th annual Banned Books Week, one library in Kansas has gotten artistic. The Lawrence Public Library has created the Banned Books Trading Cards project, a series of drawings inspired by banned books and authors created by local artists.

Each trading card is inspired by a banned book or author. There is one for each day of the week.  The week kicked off with an homage to George Orwell‘s Animal Farm (pictured right) created by artist Barry Fitzgerald, followed by an homage to Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut, drawn by Kent Smith. Today’s card by an artist known as Webmocker, celebrates John Updike’s Rabbit, Run.

Here is the artist’s statement: “Burning and otherwise destroying books being a favorite activity of censors, deconstruction seemed an appropriate approach to this tattered (literally falling apart as I read it) copy of Rabbit, Run.  Coincidentally, this book was purchased at the Friends of the Lawrence Public Library book sale.”

Share Your Favorite Banned Book on YouTube

What’s your favorite banned or challenged book? Read it on video to celebrate the the 30th anniversary of Banned Books Week next week (September 30 through October 6).

The American Library Association is hosting a virtual reading of banned books on its Virtual Read-Out YouTube channel, and anyone can submit a video of themselves reading a challenged book. So far, they have collected 59 videos. Here’s more about the program:  

Videos (no more than two minutes long) can be submitted by anyone as long as it includes a reading of a banned or challenged book. The video must include information on where and why the book was banned or challenged. You may also wish to add your thoughts on the importance of keeping that particular book on library or bookstore shelves. Videos of up to three minutes long can be submitted giving eyewitness accounts of local challenges. For those who are camera shy, you can still participate in the Banned Books Virtual Read-out by creating a video montage that centers on banned/challenged books. Thomas University created a video last year that can be used as an example.

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Fifty Shades of Grey Book Burnings Stoke Controversy

On November 5th, UK-based anti-domestic violence group Wearside Women in Need plans to burn copies of E.L. JamesFifty Shades of Grey trilogy.

According to Mail Online, director Clare Phillipson championed the bonfire after reading two-thirds of the novel. She explained: “we have libraries wasting and grossly misusing public money to buy a book which says: ‘domestic violence is sexy.’”

The New York Daily News reported that Ohio-based DJs Chad Zumock and Alan Cox also hosted a Fifty Shades burning back in July 2012. Cox argued that their event did not advocate censorship because all the participants joined in voluntarily.

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‘Fifty Shades Of Grey’ Returns To Florida Library System

After pulling the erotica book from its shelves, the Brevard County Library System in Florida said that it would return Fifty Shades of Grey to its shelves. Library Services Director Cathy Schweinsberg explained: “We have always stood against censorship. We have a long history of standing against censorship and that continues to be a priority for this library system.”

The decision comes after criticism from groups like the National Coalition Against Censorship, arguing that sexuality is “an integral part of the human experience.”

Here is more from the library’s website: “The decision is in response to public demand, but also comes after considerable review and consideration by the library system. In all, 19 books from the ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ trilogy that were previously available will once again be available through the library system.”

Literary Groups Defend ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’

Comparing Fifty Shades of Grey to Lady Chatterley’s Lover and Fear of Flying, prominent literary groups criticized the Brevard County Public Library system for refusing to carry E. L. James‘ racy novel.

The National Coalition Against Censorship circulated the letter, getting signatures from the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression, Association of American Publishers, PEN American Center, American Society of Journalists and Authors and The Independent Book Publishers Association. Follow this PDF link to read the letter. Here’s an excerpt:

The idea that “erotica” should be categorically excluded from public libraries has no merit. Sexuality, an integral part of the human experience, has always been part of creative expression. As the late Justice Brennan observed, “Sex, a great and mysterious motive force in human life, has indisputably been a subject of absorbing interest to mankind through the ages.” Indeed, a library’s collection would be incomplete without the, by now classic Memoirs of A Woman of Pleasure (“Fanny Hill”), Lady Chatterley’s Lover, Tropic of Cancer or even Erica Jong’s Fear of Flying. There is no rational basis to provide access to erotic novels like these, and at the same time exclude contemporary fiction with similar content.

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