I've never quite understood why there are so many calls to ban books. And it's been even more of a mystery why such a wide variety of books get attacked in this way. I love books. They're a way to expand my awareness by exposing me to ideas and lives different from my own. Not to mention, they're fun! So why do so many people get themselves tied into a knot.
This year, my curiosity was too much. I decided to start looking into it and what I found was depressingly bleak. There seem to be a few specific reasons for banning that keep coming up over and over in the lists: the book features queer characters, diverse characters, encourages people to question authority, or deals with alternate realities. To me, those are a check list of things I want to read but for some, it strikes them with terror.
Most requests to ban books seem to come from various fundamentalist Christian groups who see these books as an attack on themselves and their faith. (And just to be clear, these groups are a minority of Christians and I'm sure that many Christians would have a problem with the version of their faith as portrayed by these groups). In the view of these groups, anything that might encourage anything other than blind faith and obedience is a threat.
And as a result, they will never know the vicarious thrill of tessering across the universe, or flying in a spaceship, or riding a unicorn, or any of the other wonderful and exciting adventures that books have opened up to me. They will never learn to see the world through someone else's eyes and thus increase their compassion for those who are different or who have lived different experiences. And to a point, if they don't want to do that, if they would rather stay in their narrow world bounded by fear, that's their choice.
What they don't have is the right to make that choice for anyone else. They don't have the right to look at a book and say "This scares me" and insist it be destroyed or locked away. They don't have the right to deny people the chance to experience stories of others like them and others who are completely different.
So I am proud to be part of Banned Book Week and part of the ALSO fundraiser. And if you'd like to support freedom of expression and helping adult literacy, or even if you'd just like to enjoy an evening of books, food, wine and conversation, please join me on Saturday for Persisting Beyond Margins. And if you'd like to know more about my chosen banned book, A Wrinkle In Time, and why I feel it's a great story, please check out my Heroine Fix on Margaret Murray and the value of an angry heroine.
And if you'd like to check out my own fantastical stories about a secret society of superheroes living among us, the first book in my lalassu series, Revelations, is currently on sale for 99 cents US on all platforms.