This week marks Banned Books Week, the American Library Association’s annual event designed to draw attention to the censorship challenges that some books and authors continue to face even in the twenty-first century. From time-honored classics (Lolita, The Bluest Eye, The Catcher in the Rye, Lady Chatterley’s Lover) to modern young-adult bestsellers (Speak, Two Boys Kissing, Looking for Alaska), novels have born the overwhelming brunt of censorship efforts in this country.
But censors and strict parents aren’t immune to the powerful effects of poetry on impressionable souls. Today on the blog, the Bas Bleu editors are taking a quick look at just a handful of poems that have drawn the ire of school districts, governments, and parents over the years.
From September 27 to October 3, the American Library Association is observing its annual Banned Books Week. You may have noticed it’s an event Bas Bleu mentions every year, because we’re firm believers in celebrating the freedom to read, as well as the role of libraries as access points to knowledge for, well, everyone! But while the ALA certainly does yeoman’s work tracking censorship attempts in America, Banned Books Week isn’t just about protecting access to the books themselves; it’s a great opportunity to think about why we reject certain books in the first place. Continue reading
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? Continue reading
Here at Bas Bleu, a banned-books list is more commonly known as a “to-be-read-immediately” list. Call it a remnant of teenaged rebellion, that phase in which we swiped our mother’s copy of Peyton Place or had our young minds blown by The Catcher in the Rye. Perhaps it’s borne of a democratic aversion to censorship. Or maybe it’s even simpler than that: We read controversial books because they often have the most to teach us. Continue reading