Next week is Banned Books Week. I am trying to take more notice of this “holiday” this year. It’s perfectly fine to wear your pins with Huck Finn on them and give another pin wearer a “Rock on” and a nod (or maybe a high-five) during the day as this week goes on. But as writers, we should never forget that when people talk about banned books, they are talking about banning us. That is, they are preventing writers from writing and readers from reading, though in some cases they haven't even read the book they are banning.
Writers are often among first ones imprisoned in a repressive regime. You can take a look at Pen American Center’s list of authors that have been imprisoned or tortured for their work here. Also PEN lists five things you can do to protect freedom of expression abroad and at home. Free speech is only as strong as those who will defend it. Get involved, so that in the United States the right to write, publish, and read what you want remains for you and your readers. We’re always saying it’s all about the work, right? So let’s protect it.
You can check out more of the American Library Association’s excellent Banned Books Weeks site at the link above. One of my favorites is this page of 100 banned classics. You can also check out the American Booksellers for Free Expression. And you can’t forget the ACLU. They have their own top 100, a list of the books most frequently challenged in the last 15 years. Still think we’re not in trouble? Don’t blame me when they come for your copy of Song of Solomon.