Walt Whitman once declared, “The dirtiest book of all is the expurgated book.” As booksellers—and more importantly, as readers—we have to agree. Here in Bas Bleu’s Bluestocking Salon, we talk a lot about how much books mean to us; is it any wonder the thought of someone trying to block our access to them makes us see red?
Yes, as government censorship of books goes, we’re pretty darn lucky in this country. With a few exceptions, most censorship efforts recorded by the American Library Association are on a local level. And overwhelmingly, the challenges brought to the ALA protest sex, language, and violence. (See fun charts here.) But for the generations of Americans who rely upon their school and public libraries for access to books—and thus, access to the world—localized censorship has a major impact.
Next week, the ALA will host Banned Books Week, its annual celebration of the freedom to read. At Bas Bleu, we’re kicking off the festivities early (we’re that excited!) by sharing some of our favorite quotes about book censorship below. If you’d like to learn more about frequently challenged books and see the list of 2013’s most hotly contested titles, check out the ALA’s website.