23-29 September is Banned Books Week.
“Banned Books Week was launched in 1982 in response to a sudden surge in the number of challenges to books in schools, bookstores and libraries…” – www.bannedbooksweek.org.uk
The very topic of not only banning books, but that of free speech, and being offended by certain subjects or how they’re depicted/portrayed, is something that has existed for not only decades, or centuries, but likely thousands of years; it’s not one that will go away any time soon (unless George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four really takes hold).
I took part in Banned Books Week last year for the first time by reading, or rather, battling my way through ‘DuPont Dynasty, Behind the Nylon Curtain’ by Gerard Colby. I didn’t manage this within the week itself because this book is around 1000 pages long and it was made all the more difficult to consume due to the conversion from .pdf to .epub placing paragraph spacing where there shouldn’t have been and making my ebook reader slow to change pages. I’m sure I still gleaned some knowledge from the ordeal though.
But what to read this year?
There’s long lists of title to choose from at the Banned Books Week website but I really struggle to read-to-order, let alone completing a book in a given time frame, but I do like the idea of setting myself such a target. However, I have already been reading some books lately that perhaps fall into the banned book category, or at least some books about them.
Did you know that the books that make up the Bible are not the entirety of what could have been included? I find this an interesting topic – more so than a lot of what I see on the official list of banned books, which largely seem to be about sex, or are novels rather than non-fiction – in some schools the Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings book have been banned! Pondering what has been omitted or suppressed in religious circles and how all this may have shaped (and continue to shape) the religion we call Christianity is something I do like reading about, or learning about via videos on Youtube such as a recent one I watched which I’ll include below (the removal of certain Youtube videos is a similar topic of suppression).
Some such books we only know about due to mention of them by other writers, others are later discoveries, such as found in the Dead Sea Scrolls. But there are also titles by more recent authors who mention these books or gospels; I’m currently reading Putting Away Childish Things by Uta Ranke-Heinemann.
I notice The Wisdom of Sirach is on my To Read list, not banned as such but not included in the Bible, so I think I’ll set myself the challenge of reading that this week; it’s apparently a collection of ethical teachings.